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Take a Walk Through the Hamptons With a New Book by Susan Kaufman

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The photographer Susan Kaufman fell in love with the Hamptons at the age of 8. She was seated in the back of her parent’s car, on her way from her childhood home in New Rochelle, N.Y., to visit her aunt and uncle’s East Hampton house for the very first time.

It was 1966. Out the window, charming, hydrangea-covered farmhouses, duck farms and potato fields streamed past. And Ms. Kaufman, who would grow up to become a fashion director at Condé Nast and the founding editor of People StyleWatch, felt a flutter in her heart.

In 1997, she and her husband made a slice of the Hamptons their own, purchasing an 1890 cottage in Amagansett. For the three decades since, the house has been a sweet bastion of escape from their Greenwich Village apartment whenever they feel a need to break out of the city and into fresher, quieter air.

In 2022, Abrams Books published Ms. Kaufman’s “Walk With Me: New York,” a collection of streetscape photographs snapped on her daily walks around Manhattan. The compact coffee-table volume is now in its 10th printing, and she has now followed up with “Walk With Me: Hamptons.”

As she did with its predecessor, Ms. Kaufman shot “Walk With Me: Hamptons” exclusively on her iPhone. The 238 photos are accompanied by illustrated maps marking her favorite stops in villages and hamlets like East Hampton, Sag Harbor and Montauk while perambulating. Her pictures of far-flung Long Island in all four seasons — lush, soothing snaps of Victorian cottages, roadside strawberry stands and trees bursting with rhododendrons and wisteria — are probably not very different from what she first saw out of that car window in the 1960s. Each is an image of carefree Americana that seems frozen in time.

She discussed her work with The New York Times. This interview has been edited for content and clarity.

You’ve worked as an editor at some of the most pivotal magazines in New York City, including Mademoiselle and Glamour. But it was your personal Instagram that led to your books. How did that unfold?

I had a long and successful career. But when the publishing world imploded in 2015, I was let go, and taking pictures became my creative outlet. And when I was working, I was really only in the Hamptons on Friday and Saturday nights, and I would come back Sunday. But when I stopped working and was able to spend more time out there, I was really able to explore it.

So many people think of the Hamptons as a place to go only in the summer, but you reject that idea, right?

It’s so beautiful in the fall. That’s my favorite season. That winter can get dark and a lot of things close down, it’s true. But when it snows and when you have all that space to yourself, it’s magical, you know? And spring right now is incredible. The cherry trees go insane, the magnolias are so beautiful. It’s so lush.

How do you decide what to photograph?

I just shoot what I find beautiful. And being able to package it in a book where I’m putting things together that I think work well and get the essence of a town — that was really fun. And each place or house that I shoot, I go back and research. And there’s so much history there.

Your book shows a side of the Hamptons that is older, charming and decidedly down to earth. But the average sale price of a home in the Hamptons is now over $3 million. What do you think about the newer, glitzier side of the Hamptons?

The good news is that the newer, glitzy version is usually behind hedges. If you’re going to Sag Harbor or East Hampton, you can still take the jitney out first thing in the morning, arrive in the middle of Sag Harbor, walk around the town and see all the little houses, the wharf, the cottages, a windmill. It’s so pretty. You can also take the train or the bus to East Hampton for the day. You arrive on Newtown Lane, which is charming with lots of shops, and then you can head down Main Street and James Lane, and see all the pictures that are right there in the book. And you can walk all the way to Main Beach and have a beautiful beach walk, too.

Is there a section of the Hamptons that is your favorite?

It’s hard to choose. Amagansett is my home and I know it intimately. In Sag Harbor, they decorate for the winter, they decorate for the holidays, and there’s always something fun to shoot year-round.

The Hamptons has been in your heart for more than five decades. Has it changed too much?

People love to dis the Hamptons. Every year there’s an article that reads “The Hamptons is ruined.” But it’s like New York. It’s a love-hate relationship. You’ve got this incredible natural beauty. It’s just one of the most beautiful places in the world. There are very few places like the Hamptons where you have incredible beaches, as well as lush gardens and a mix of such incredible architecture. And that’s what I wanted to capture.