I discovered Eljay Aguillo via his Instagram account, @whyilovenewyorkcity. I'm never not on Instagram and find it to be one of the best ways to uncover new talent and creative points of view. Eljay's page features photos of New York City scenery accompanied by quotes that speak to all of the reasons he loves living here. Of course this page got an instant "follow" from me as Eljay and I clearly share a common love for New York City.
I came from central Pennsylvania (State College) - a great place to grow up and raise children, but not really much of a place to be in your 20s and 30s. Since starting college at Penn State in 2001, I've had a lot of misfortunes including bad grades, a break-up, a rocky relationship with my parents, and a lack of communication with my brother. After I graduated I was in a slump, which is when I got the idea to leave town for New York City. I had to do it - it was the only way to prove I could do well for myself. I figured discovering my own self worth would help me love others the way they are supposed to be loved. That is why I moved here to NYC, to find out who I am supposed to be.
Give a brief description of your background/blog/current job?
I majored in Bio-Behavioral health at Penn State University. I didn't really do much with it when I first moved into the city. I just moved here to get a job and support myself. I finally found a great day job in New Jersey as a Compliance Inspector.
What's your favorite photograph you've ever taken?
Why did you decide to start @whyilovenewyorkcity?
One day, in the summer of 2012, my wife and I were browsing through Instagram pages. I stumbled upon @nyroamer's page with intriguing photos of New York City. My wife noted, "I don't really have a love for New York City like you do, honey." That's when it started. I created the page @whyilovenewyorkcity and started to compile NYC pictures, captioning each of them with reasons why I love the city. About 100 followers or so, I showed my wife the page and she said "What a great concept, I wish you thought of that. You would have done so well." I replied with, "This is me!" I was able to convince her of all the reasons I love NYC and why she should also.
What's the best thing that's resulted from your blog?
I created a blog (still in progress) long after I had around 10k followers on my Instagram. So I'm answering in terms of my IG page. If anything, it's mostly the recognition from all the people around the world that can relate to me and how I view New York City. Originally meant to share my personal point of view, the page really relates to anyone who loves New York City.
What's the most valuable thing that your least favorite job taught you?
My last job taught me the importance of smiling and being genuinely happy. Nobody wants to see someone with a fake positive attitude.
Looking back, what advice would you give to the freshly arrived version of you?
Don't be afraid to make mistakes - they are the best things that can ever happen to you. Don't be afraid to get your heartbroken - it's the best part about learning to love. Don't be afraid to let people you don't know get to know you better - it makes you a more rounded person.
What's a moment of vulnerability you can remember?
I think the word 'vulnerable' is too intense of a word to identify with when talking about my moments here in New York City. I've just had a lot of bad luck with girls, money, roommates, money, my job, money, and people who couldn't stand me because of those issues. It was just one consistent lifestyle that gave me thick skin.
What's been your proudest moment?
When I first got my New York City paycheck. I still have a photo copy of that check hanging in my parents house in Pennsylvania. That one check gave me confidence that I could survive here in New York City, but I knew that I had to hustle to get that feeling every week.
When are you at your happiest?
I'm the happiest when I'm with my wife, especially when we're on a date here in the city. I love her to death and we're expecting a baby in May 2014. I'm the happiest when I'm with her. Every experience I've gone through, no matter good or bad, led me to her.
What is the best piece of advice you've ever received and from who?
The best piece of advice I ever received was from my mom after my girlfriend and I broke up in 2004. It's something I will carry with me for the rest of my life: "Something great always comes out of both the intelligent and unintelligent things you do. No matter how long it takes, you just have to wait for it. In the meantime, keep yourself busy and keep working because everything happens for a good reason. I've had 40 years of making mistakes, but I have you.
My favorite place to spend time is...the movies. I honestly love it...the trailers, popcorn, everything.
I'm not a tourist but I still... walk around DUMBO (Brooklyn) like I just fell in love with the city. There are so many moments to capture.
You'll usually find me... Around the east village especially on St. Marks.
My favorite phone apps are... Besides Instagram? The only things I need on my phone are Boggle, any GPS that costs less that $9.99 per year (or free if possible), and the PicTapGo App that edits my photos.
Don't trust... online scammers that say you can make money easily just by working from home.
Do trust... People with pets here in the city.
It's completely okay to do this alone...go to the movies.
When it comes to NYC I hate...people on the street trying to sell you something without having a gimmick and people in the city that keep saying "I hate it here."
When it comes to NYC I love... Everything else.
I'll move out of NYC when... My wife finds a job that she loves very much. I won't sacrifice my wife's opportunities. She's my New York City.
*Follow @whyilovenewyorkcity here.