Inside the New York Times Building at Eighth Avenue and 40th Street, a lot of light is shed. Most of the time, it emanates from the pages of business or world news, but on a good day it shines right through the windows. On the sixth floor, in a corner on the building’s eastern side, a woman patiently waits by her desk to capture it.

Kathy Ryan, director of photography for the New York Times Magazine, often comes in before she needs to. “If it’s a sunny day, I try to get here as early as I can so I have a little bit of time to make a picture before the day gets rolling.” What began two years ago, when a zigzag of light across the stairs prompted the snap of her iPhone 5 camera, has now developed into a delightful Instagram series turned photo book. Office Romance lends us Ryan’s eyes as she wanders the hallways and the meeting rooms throughout her day, chasing the light as it slips through the ceramic rods of the building’s energy-efficient design. The shadows of her images fall in stripes and chevrons over colleagues and workspaces, filtered black and white all through Instagram’s Inkwell.

Most of her pictures are made at “the bookends of the day” as she says, “when the light is amazing.” For the morning’s white light, with its stark contrasts, she favors black and white, but the book also shares the strong spectrum of color found inside the building, from the solar yellow and red on its interiors to the warmth of the sunsets searing through the western windows. And for Ryan, capturing this light is just as enjoyable as basking in the memory of its conquest. On one of her recent trips up to the sixteenth floor, she discovered “an incredible light at the very end of the day that ignited a red wall that has two stainless steel water fountains. I couldn’t take the picture at that moment but I made a mental note to go back. A couple of days later, I dashed up there just before the sunset because I knew the light was incredible—having seen it—and I made a quick picture. When it’s really sunny out, I get such a thrill.” That’s the benefit of spending so much time in the same place every day; there’s always hope to catch the light tomorrow.

While an office is not a place commonly romanticized, Office Romance serves as a reminder that there are beautiful moments everywhere, if you take the time to look: tulips entwined in a wilted embrace, their shadows dancing on the table below; the pop of a red Moleskine notebook against the pocket of a stone gray suit; a charger cord coiling in a pleasing shape; or the portrait of a man silhouetted on newsprint as a paper is held up to the light to be read. A well-timed shot into a glass wall has the magic of capturing the world on the other side of it as well as the one reflected behind.

Ryan considers herself a photo editor more than a photographer, but Instagram has provided an encouraging environment for her work. “I just love that it’s opened up that creative space for so many people who are not photographers, and yet they are visualists and they see something in the world that’s worth calling our attention to,” she says. “In my case, I feel grateful for it because I wouldn’t be making pictures otherwise. It’s a fix. It’s an addiction now.” The platform has also been a good source of discovery for new talent to work for the magazine. And while Ryan’s job is to commission these photographers to fly all over the world and share the spectacular sights that they find, for herself, she enjoys creating in this contained space that she knows so intimately. “My kind of pictures are along the walls.”

Office Romance is out now from Aperture.

Jennifer Mason is a style manager at the Saks Fifth Avenue photo studio in New York. Her fashions and travels are shared on Instagram @jennymie.

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