‘Walk With Me: Hamptons’ Captures the History, Quaint Homes and Dreamy Scenes of NYC’s Summer Escape

Susan Kaufman doesn’t go anywhere without her trusted iPhone SE.

Her camera roll flows into her Instagram, where more than 98,000 followers are eager to see her soft-edged images of city and country: photos of cherry blossom trees; quaint Victorian houses covered in snow; decorative displays for Halloween and Christmas, and interesting front doors.

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Her images are distinctively soft-edged and dreamy. “I love that they’re not super sharp and postcard looking. I want them to have a more romantic and gentler feel. That’s why when my iPhone 6 died, I got the SE,” says Kaufman, whose Botticelli-esque hair takes up most of the screen during an interview from her Hamptons, N.Y., home.

Susan Kaufman
Susan Kaufman

She gathered those early romantic snaps into her first book, “Walk With Me: New York,” which was released in 2022. Now she’s turned her charming lens to the Hamptons in a sequel, “Walk With Me: Hamptons,” set for release June 20.

Kaufman’s take on the Hamptons is far removed from the glamour associated with the summer retreat. There are no clambake parties or socialite gatherings. Instead, there are leafy green lawns; empty roads with blue skies, and anchored sailboats.

She has been visiting the Hamptons with her family since she was eight years old. Her most vivid memory is spending time with her aunt and uncle in East Hampton, two blocks away from Main Beach.

Kaufman got to know more of the Hamptons when she was editing various fashion magazines, heading to its tip in Montauk for photo shoots. Nearly 30 years ago, she bought a house in Amagansett, N.Y., with her husband, Shawn Young.

“I’m attracted to shooting the much more historic and charming parts. There’s this ‘other’ Hamptons away from the glitzy Kardashians and giant estates of Beyoncé, where you want to hang out on a bay beach, buy fresh corn and barbecue in your backyard,” she says.

She shot a majority of the photos for the book last spring. She bought a car and started driving from Southampton to Montauk, looking in every nook and discovering new vineyards; corn and pumpkin fields, and magnolia and chestnut trees.

Walk With Me Hamptons
Walk With Me Hamptons

Although many visitors find the Hamptons most beautiful in the spring or summer, Kaufman has a soft spot for the autumn. She’s captured images of golden leaves falling and covering the footpaths in the new book.

It opens with a map of the Hamptons. Kaufman researched each town and village and dove into the archives of Art & Architecture Quarterly, an online publication about the preservation of East End towns.

“I found out that in the 1700s the Hamptons was an artist community, and that the town pond was a trough for sheep,” Kaufman says.

She also discovered the meaning behind each town’s name. Amagansett means “a place of good water,” and Sagaponack is the Native American name for “land of big ground nuts.”

From a photographic point of view, the whaling port of Sag Harbor meant a great deal to Kaufman, not only for its walkability but because Herman Melville wrote about it in “Moby Dick.”

“It’s like a quintessential New England whaling town — which you don’t expect the Hamptons to be — and it’s one of the towns that really stays open all year long,” says Kaufman, adding that her Instagram followers in particular love photos of the town’s cottages and roof shingles.

She says being in the Hamptons sometimes feels like stepping back in time. “There’s still farmland and beautiful old homes in Wainscott, and it feels like you’re in the 19th century — until a tractor drives by,” she says.

Walk With Me Hamptons
Walk With Me Hamptons

Kaufman also loves houses — and their doors, which are captured in the book. When Instagram launched in 2010, she began photographing different doors she found around New York City, which is when people started to follow her.

“When I stopped working, I had all this free time and this was sort of my creative outlet,” she says.

While shooting and posting on Instagram may be satisfying, it’s not her ideal.

“As much as I love Instagram and finding the community pushing me to post every day, having a tangible thing that you can hold in your hands is what I love. I’ve always been a print person,” she says.

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