A photographer’s guide to the most beautiful places in Hackney

The woman exploring east London’s gems, one picture at a time.

Cafe in Hackney. Pic: @eastlondonlines Instagram

Anyone who lives in East London knows how charming its neighbourhoods can be. But no one knows this better than Katya Katkova.

Katya’s carefully curated Instagram page showcases Hackney as one of the most picturesque places in London – everything from comfortable café corners in Stoke Newington, to vintage country-style table décor in Homerton. The photographer also makes sure to include artistic pictures of food and coffee, for her 62,000 followers to salivate over.

Originally from Lithuania, Katya came to London 10 years ago to start working on an art blog called East London Mornings. Its concept was to use paintings and drawings of local cafes to publish an art guide to Hackney’s best breakfast spots. The blog, which eventually became a published book, was the basis of her Instagram account idea – but with a stronger focus on food and lifestyle. More specifically, Katya chose to concentrate her photography on the East End, to encourage people to come out of central London to enjoy what, she thinks, is one of the most underrated parts of the city.

It was only when Instagram chose to feature @eastlondonmornings as its ‘Account of the Week’ and Katya got her first 10,000 followers, that she realised how big the project had become, describing the feeling as “mind-blowing.”  Since then, she feels like her account changed her life. When asked how, she said: “London Instagrammers are a very interesting community and I’m happy to be a part of it. I also can’t be more grateful for the opportunity to attend and share the most significant events in London.”

So, who better to ask when you want to know where to go in the borough for the best pictures? Katya’s favourite places include Bistrotheque, a hip warehouse-style diner in South Hackney, Brawn, a Mediterranean restaurant in Bethnal Green and Corner Room, an intimate hotel space, also located in Bethnal Green. She also loves photographing the many vibrant markets, parks and canals in her local London Fields neighbourhood.

If taking pictures of food is your passion, Katya recommends going to coffee shops such as Clipson & Sons in Broadway Market, Dark Arts in Homerton, Allpress in Bethnal Green, Wolf in Stoke Newington and Morty & Bob’s in London Fields. For those of you who are eager to know whether or not the food actually tastes as good as it looks, the photographer gives us her verdict: she’s never tried good-looking food that tasted bad.

As for her tips on taking the perfect Instagram picture, Katya said to use “photography basics”, even if you’re shooting on an iPhone. She cites composition and lighting as the key elements to taking the perfect picture and also prefers to not edit her pictures too much. When she does, she mostly uses a range of different filters on the VSCO app. She also emphasised the importance of making sure the corners of your pictures are straight.

Her main piece of advice for all those who want to publish their photography on Instagram? Don’t focus too much on attracting a lot of followers. Instead you should, according to Katya: “focus on something you’re passionate about and do it well. In the end, it is all about your content that makes people follow you.”


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