Lower Manhattan’s Explorer In Chief

Follow Our Explorer In Chief All Summer

Street photographer Josh Katz — the lucky winner of the Alliance for Downtown New York’s Explorer in Chief contest — has arrived in Lower Manhattan and is ready to photograph everything in sight. You can follow along as he explores the neighborhood @downtownnyc and help shape his experience.

If you’ve got a favorite restaurant, coffee shop, park, historical site or hidden gem that you want Katz to scope out, drop him a line — you can either DM us or email him at explorer@downtownny.com with your hot tips and recommendations. And if you see him fiddling with his camera out in the field, be sure to say hello.

Who Is Josh Katz?

Josh Katz is a photographer, photography educator, and sponsored skateboarder living in Brooklyn, NY. He creates digital photography courses, leads workshops and makes videos for Canon, teaches Lightroom for Adobe and shoots YouTube videos about photography. This year, he spoke at one of the largest creative conferences in the world, Adobe MAX.

Thanks to the help of a Kickstarter campaign, his first photo book, “On the Roof: A New York Neighborhood in Quarantine” will be published in October by Thames & Hudson with 100% of his profits going to Doctors Without Borders.

Katz’s less professional hobbies include talking to strangers, cooking, reading history/anthro/urban planning books, and trying to visit every U.S. national park. Right now, he is most likely lying in a grimy NYC street waiting for the perfect photo.

Find out more about how our Explorer In Chief envisions his storytelling role in the Covid era.

How He Got The Job

The Explorer In Chief contest was originally created at a time when COVID-19 didn’t exist. Then the world changed overnight, and so did the job.

As a result, Explorer In Chief Josh Katz will embark on a revised mission for the Downtown Alliance — one that includes documenting the recovery of a major urban neighborhood through the stories of Lower Manhattan’s people and businesses.

Katz is a savvy street photographer who has captured the attention of over a half-million followers since uploading his first video at age nine.

Out of 716 applicants, 15 semi-finalists were selected

More than 700 videos were created by potential Explorers in 40 states and 30 countries across the globe. Among them were inspiring tales of travel, triumph and perseverance. Meet the top 15 semi-finalists.