world’s most-visited tourist attractions

One of my friends at Travel + Leisure, Lyndsey Matthews, had the task of researching and crunching tons of numbers to compile T+L’s list on the World’s Most-Visited Tourist Attractions. While she was completely inundated with trying to sort out various figures, dates and math (!), I started rounding up images of the venues on my end. Since her research was continuously in progress, that meant that the photographs we needed to accompany the text were always in limbo. Finally all 50 top attractions were nailed down, with No. 1 coming in for Times Square, New York, New York. Times Square is conveniently located one block away from our office, so I popped down there to take some shots of the tourist trap (and probably looked like a tourist while shooting myself), and landed on the front page of Travel + Leisure. The story was also picked up by The BBC, Yahoo! and quite a few personal blogs.

World’s Most-Visited Tourist Attractions, a Travel + Leisure original on Yahoo!

odds & ends

three short shouts about three different shoots:

one: During my senior year of college I was asked to participate in a research trip to Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt to track trends and forecasts for the future of the Internet at the United Nation’s Internet Governance Forum. I went as a student researcher with Imagining the Internet and enjoyed a week in a beachy paradise located on the Sinai Peninsula and jutting out into the Red Sea. I can easily remember the beautiful swim I took in the Red Sea. And I also remember how I felt when I saw Sharm on the shoot list for this: Worst Beaches for Shark Attacks. Sharm’s No. 8.

two: American Express Publishing Corporation, the parent of Food & Wine, Travel + Leisure, is also the owner of few other titles, including Departures. Departures is a luxury lifestyle publication only available to American Express Black Card members. A few weeks ago they started the post-production process to expand a story from the July/August issue about Great American Heritage Brands. Not every brand in the print story had a corresponding photo tied to it for the slideshow, so we conducted image research on a few places. Luckily J.Press is located in New York City, so I was able to walk a few blocks from work and shoot it for the feature. It was my birthday, so it was a nice treat to get out of the office and have a chance to create.

three: Last July I bought tickets to go all the way up to the crown of the Statue of Liberty, which had a two month waiting period. Even though it is a drag to basically go through airport-style security to even get on the boat to Ellis or Liberty Island, once you are on the boat you are free to shoot anything. I snapped some really picturesque shots during the ferry ride over and had a truly unique perspective once I was taking photos through the glass panels of Lady Liberty’s crown (which only 30 people per hour are allowed to experience). When it was announced that the Statue of Liberty would be closing for renovation this fall, our editors wanted to get a story live quickly. The photographs I took on that long-anticipated day trip sure came in handy. Check it out:

best barbecue restaurants in the world

Just this week one of my photographs of Oklahoma Joe’s BBQ (which ironically enough is actually located in Missouri) was featured in Travel + Leisure’s Best Barbecue Restaurants in the World package. It was one of those rare times a T+L shoot list floats by and not only have I actually visited one of the places, but have also photographed it. While I dug through the files on my laptop to unearth the images, it triggered major positive memories of exactly a year ago, when I originally visited the joint.

Flashback to July of last year, 2010. I had recently graduated from Elon, was freelancing in Columbus and was heading into a two week vacation with my boyfriend to embark on a road trip from Columbus to Boulder to Chicago and back again to catch up with a few friends. Our first rest stop was in St. Louis, where we crossed the Illinois border and were immediately greeted by the St. Louis Arch:

We had an amazing lunch at a tapas restaurant downtown and a quick walk around the park, then loaded back up into the car to spend the night in Kansas City, Missouri. It was a Friday so after we got settled in the hotel we made a dash for the Power & Light District, where we stopped by Howl at the Moon for some dueling pianos … and a bucket of liquor:

The next day, before we geared up to drive across the rest of the Midwest, we did a quick search on Yelp for barbeque restaurants. And what we found was nothing short of astounding — Oklahoma Joe’s BBQ. Not only does Oklahoma Joe’s BBQ function out of a gas station (which also is fully functioning), but it also has a line that typically snakes around the entire restaurant and almost out the door and it also tops Anthony Bourdain’s 13 Places to Eat Before You Die list. I ordered a pulled pork sandwich and onion rings and Dan had to try the burnt ends (what they’re famous for), coleslaw and a half rack of ribs:

Presenting Oklahoma Joe's BBQ
Presenting Oklahoma Joe’s BBQ, which is also a gas station.
Chowing on ribs.
Chowing on ribs.
Delicious burnt ends, flavorful chunks of smked brisket which also happen to be Joe's speciality.
Delicious burnt ends, flavorful chunks of smoked brisket which also happen to be Joe’s specialty.

It was an epic and amazing meal, and I’m happy to be able to cross off at least one restaurant on Bourdain’s list. The rest of the trip was lovely, and you can read more about my killer breakfast in Boulder at The Buff here. A few additional highlights from the road include a sunset visit to Colorado’s Flatiron Mountains, a perfect garden lunch in Omaha and the best open-mic night I’ve ever been to in Chicago.

Atop the Flatirons.
Atop the Flatirons.
The best grilled veggie sandwich in Omaha.
The best grilled veggie sandwich in Omaha.
Open-mic night at Gallery Cabaret, an indie bar in Chicago.
Open-mic night at Gallery Cabaret, an indie bar in Chicago.

world’s strangest chocolates

Way back in freezing cold February, I made the trip from Travel + Leisure’s 6th Avenue office to shoot a little bit of Barcelona, Spain at Borne Confections on Park Avenue. I was tasked with shooting Oriol Balaguer’s Mascletà chocolates for Travel + Leisure’s World’s Strangest Chocolates slideshow. While some of the “strange” chocolates on the shoot list ranged from Shiitake Mushroom to Tobacco to Pig’s Blood, the Mascletà was quite mainstream — it contained hazelnut praline, crunchy Maldon sea salt and Pop Rocks (!) coated in cocoa butter.

While a small selection of the Mascletà will set you back quite a few bucks, I was lucky enough to end up with a goody bag full of the chocolates I had shot. Before my friends and I devoured them I took a few more photographs, which you can see below. And yes, they were like fireworks in our mouths.

world’s hottest rooftop restaurants

In May I was assigned to travel to Carroll Gardens in Brooklyn to shoot Alma Restaurant for Travel + Leisure’s online package featuring the World’s Hottest Rooftop Restaurants.

Even though I didn’t get the opportunity to dine at Alma, it is definitely on my New York City bucket list. I met with one of the co-owners during the afternoon, who was extremely nice and opened up the restaurant early so I could shoot. With a background that almost looks fake from the cozy comfort that the owners have built from scratch, Alma definitely looks like it would be up my ally. The pollo fajitas and cucumber margaritas don’t seem to hurt either. Below are a few more sneak peaks from the shoot that didn’t make it to

The roof is covered, so whether sun or rain Alma is open for business.
The roof is covered, so whether sun or rain Alma is open for business.
Busting the roof open early for the T+L shoot.
Busting the roof open early for the T+L shoot.
Manhattan and ship yard reflection.
Manhattan and ship yard reflection.

Update July 19th:

I finally visited Alma! Had a beautiful birthday dinner there with a fresh watermelon margarita and Poblano Relleno con Picadillo de Puerco. I also discovered that the image I took for Travel + Leisure’s feature on them is the main image on Alma’s press page on their website:

america’s best comfort foods

In January, Travel + Leisure pitched a new slideshow that was perfect for the cold and dreary winter months — America’s Best Comfort Foods. I culled all of the art for the feature, which ranged from Fried Chicken with Waffles in Maryland to Chili in Seattle to Mac ‘n Cheese in Detroit. However one of the best comfort foods is also home to New York City, so I headed down to Jacques Torres on Hudson Street near SoHo to snap a few images of their perfect (and still warm) Chocolate Chip Cookies. After admiring and photographing the gooey cookies stacked into columns larger than my head, I did get to take one back with me after the shoot. And I must say, it did make me feel like I was right at home. Below are two more images of Jacques Torres’ specialty:


Food & Wine's America's Best Comfort Foods Feature, which I produced and shot for, on the Yahoo! homepage.
Food & Wine’s America’s Best Comfort Foods Feature, which I produced and shot for, on the Yahoo! homepage.

the buff: serving boulder’s best breakfast

My breakfast at The Buff last summer, as seen in my article on Travel + Leisure’s editors’ blog, Carry On.

On a recent trip to Boulder, a local friend asked that all-important brunch question: Was I was looking for local, light dishes—or a more traditional hearty breakfast? I chose the latter and ended up having a delicious (if indulgent) meal.

Dorsey and I enjoying the exact same meal. It was that good.

The Buff is a cozy space on 28th Street, with booths ready to house the weekend crowd and accommodating servers happy to swap out side dishes. The menu is sprawling: gooey pecan caramel quesadillas, a variety of homestead skillets, and the famed Saddlebags (pancakes stuffed with diced meat and topped with two eggs—seriously). The Two Step (blueberry griddle cakes, eggs, potatoes, and bacon, shown above) is perfect for those mornings when a big breakfast is essential to bouncing back from the night before. Or, you can always go the traditional route with the eggs benedict. For 99¢, add a Bloody Mary or Mimosa to your entrée.

Originally known as the Golden Buff Grill, the Buff was purchased by the current owners, Christopher Meyer and Jacquelyn Sproul, in 1995. Ever since, they’ve been dishing out stellar meals, many of which include gluten-free options. Their philosophy is based on a “genuine desire to please the people who walk in the door” and revolves around fresh produce, a hot grill, and a welcoming atmosphere.

They may serve more than just bacon, eggs, and pancakes, but there’s one indication that breakfast is the Buff’s true passion: this joint is only open until 2 p.m. Monday through Sunday.

Andie Diemer is an online photo assistant at Travel + Leisure.

Photo courtesy of the author.

Read the original article here.