Photo: Kostennn

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Starkly lit subway tracks, ruined factory interiors, vertigo-inducing aerial shots of spaghetti junctions... Kostennn's photographs are nothing if not striking.

As part of the growing urban exploration movement (which includes the likes of internet sensation/professional nutcase Mustang Wanted) the young New Yorker, whose real name is Antonio Jaggie, dedicates his time to exploring and documenting the world from a different angle.

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And while very few folk would have the guts to follow in his footsteps, the incredibly atmospheric photos he takes in and around his home city have struck a chord with people around the world - over 100,000 of whom follow him on Instagram.

Not half bad for someone who's only been shooting "for 2 and a half years".

Photo: Kostennn

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"I started using Instagram in my freshman year of high school," says Jaggie. "I'm now a senior [the final year of school in the US].

"I used it how it was meant to be used before. Filters on pictures of food. But as soon as I got into photography and saw how you could use Instagram as a platform to share your work with others I took it more seriously and started posting my work."

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But despite his initial efforts at shooting being simplistic, Jaggie always had an eye. "Since I was a little kid I was always into art. I always had an artistic way of viewing things.

Photo: Kostennn

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"One day I got my hands on an iPod touch and starting shooting photos around my hometown in Garfield, New Jersey. I fell in love with capturing moments and eventually went to a better quality camera on my iPhone.

"Then I finally figured out I actually had what it takes to be a photographer and my big brother gave his shitty Nikon D60, and after that I completely fell in love with photography."

Photo: Kostennn

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So when did he decide to start roaming not just the streets, but also the subways, rooftops and bridges of New York City?

"I got into urban exploring because I was curious to be in places that you weren't supposed to be in. I wanted to see the city that lay behind the doors, the city under your feet, and high above.

Photo: Kostennn

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"Getting a different angle than what most people would ever be able to experience is definitely a great feeling. It makes you unique and it's a style not many people are brave enough to go out and do for a photograph."

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His way of working certainly involves its fair share of risk. Although he's "never been arrested" he and his friends wear dark clothing and operate at night because "if you try to climb a bridge during the day you'll get caught before you even think about doing it."

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But what about the more serious risks? "I've heard stories of people dying doing what I do," he says. "The sketchiest place I've been to are the abandoned underground stations. NYC is no joke.

"You get caught running through these subway tunnels you better be prepared for what's about to come.

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"But it doesn't scare me. It's part of the game. It's the same thing as the graffiti game. They do some crazy things to get to some areas to tag. There's been plenty of graffiti artists that died from that."

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And anyway, Kostennn says, it's part of the fun. "Shooting your feet hanging off a building or anything like that is sketchy at times but when you're up there enjoying that crazy view it's a feeling only a few could understand.

"It's like no feeling you could think of unless you've experienced it."

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He's had a few close calls though. "The hardest I've had to work for a shot was the time where I was hanging off a beam and it was 8 degrees F (minus 13 degrees C).

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"I had no gloves on and I'm a pretty short guy so climbing up these beams was pretty damn hard. As I was hanging off this beam I couldn't pull myself up and I slipped off, but I caught myself on the beam under me.

"I eventually got up to the top of this structure but that was a long 45 minutes of climbing mid-February."

Photo: Kostennn

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It's interesting that he mentions this is the context of "working to get a shot." Because although exploration obviously brings its own rewards, and his ever-increasing following is starting to earn him bits and pieces ("free stuff does come my way," he says. "I get a lot of companies that want to send me products because they like my work and I'm completely humbled by that.") it's really the thrill of photography that's the main motivator for Kostennn.

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His heroes are, he says, the "photographers that go out to live war zones or third world countries and capture the real things that are going on in our world. Those guys capture images that make you speechless."

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"My ambition as a photographer is to be known for images that you'll forever remember. I want to explore everything and everywhere and see the unseen in all parts of the world.

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"I wan't you to have at least one of my images in your head for as long as you live. Literally capturing a moment that lasts forever."

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It's an impressive ambition for a guy who's still in high school, but given the way Kostennn is going, and the attention his work is already getting, you’d be foolish to bet against him achieving it.

Photo: Kostennn

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It's an impressive ambition for a guy who's still in high school, but given the way Kostennn is going, and the attention his work is already getting, you’d be foolish to bet against him achieving it.

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