Ben Watts

Fashion Photographer

| Chelsea

There are talented families and then, there are talented families. With a father who’s the former road manager for Pink Floyd and an Academy Award-nominated sister (Naomi can do no wrong in our books), the Watts clan undoubtedly falls into the latter camp. A modern doyen of fashion photography, Ben has had everyone from Diane Kruger and Jessica Alba to Diplo and Usher in front of his lens. Regularly contributing to top mags like Rolling Stone, GQ, Esquire and Interview, Watts’ photographs are celebrated for their vibrant, larger-than-life spirit (a characteristic intrinsic to the photographer, himself, too). He’s ebullient, original and radiates just the sort of electric energy suggested by his high-powered surname. Here, he sits down with CITIPHILE to reveal his little black book on NYC.

NEIGHBORHOOD STANDBY: Coffee Shop in Union Square (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x). The staff is easy going and it is owned by a good mate of mine. I love their barbecue chicken sandwich.

COFFEE OR TEA: It depends on my mood. I like The Smile at Milk Studios (MAP IT, x). It’s always good to have a cup before work.

ALL-TIME FAVORITE RESTAURANT: Balthazar (MAP IT, BOOK ITx). I get the chicken paillard… I like my chicken flat.

COCKTAIL DE LA NUIT: I like to drink wine. When I go out for an early evening drink, it is usually at Olio e Piú (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x).

MUSIC PICK: It depends on my mood really; I go from reggae to house and everything in between— I even listened to country the other day (Shhhhh!). Zen Freeman has the best playlist in the city.

BEST BRUNCH: Café Cluny (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x).

GUILTY PLEASURE: I love the tea and scones at Tea & Sympathy (MAP ITx).

FIRST THING I MISS WHEN I’M AWAY: The energy and efficiency of the service.

DATE NIGHT STANDBY: The Standard Grill (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x) is great or TAO (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x) can be fun and crazy followed by drinks/dancing at Electric Room (MAP IT, x).

DELIVERY GO-TO: A Cobb salad from Westville (MAP IT, x).

TO GET INSPIRED: So many places… I think it is important to explore the whole city; I love using the subway.

DREAM SHOOT LOCATION: Anywhere up high with buildings and the skyline in the background (and amazing weather).

TO SEE AND BE SEEN: If you’re lucky enough to go to the annual Met Ball, I don’t think you can get better than that.

CLOSET CHECK: My closet is full of color. I love my shirts tight and monogrammed. I like Barneys (MAP IT, x), Bergdorf Goodman (MAP IT, x) and Blue & Cream (MAP IT, x).

BEST HOME DÉCOR: My place is colorful like me. There are so many good finds in NYC (mostly in Chelsea and SoHo), but I haven’t been in a while… the Chelsea Flea Market (MAP IT, x) used to be great. I also like to check out One Kings Lane. They have nice stuff!

BEST HOST/HOSTESS GIFTS: Photography books, always. Dashwood Books (MAP IT, x) is great.

FIT PICK: I travel so much, but I always get in a 30-minute run and some free weights at least five times a week. It keeps me balanced and helps get rid of jet lag.

ULTIMATE NY MOMENT: If you know NY, then nothing will surprise you— quite literally, anything can happen. It is the world’s capital and you will notice the energy as soon as you land. Arriving on the L.I.E. and seeing the city skyline will always make your skin tingle… when mine stops, I’ll think about leaving. CP

Ben’s New York

From L to R: First Row: Inside Coffee Shop; Brunch at Café Cluny; Coffee from The Smile at Milk; Balthazar. Second Row: Electric Room; Footwear at Blue & Cream; Happy hour at Olio e Più; Book from Dashwood.

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