New York's club scene of the 1970s, seen through Meryl Meisler's lens

Meryl Meisler's cameras have served her well.

"My cameras are my best friends," she said, adding that she has taken "thousands and thousands and thousands" of pictures in her lifetime.

Meryl has captured life in New York City and on Long Island since the 1970s. In her 20s, she hit the club scene snapping pictures of everyday people and the celebrities mingling with them at iconic clubs like Studio 54 and CBGB.

"I was also shy and so it was a way of getting to know people," Meryl said. "Everyone who I ever photographed was totally cool. I always asked."

Among her subjects were '70s disco band The Village People, actress Shirley MacLaine, actor William Shatner, artist Andy Warhol, and singer Grace Jones.

"'May I take your picture?' and Grace Jones just took off her shawl," Meryl said. "'Andy, can I may I take your photograph?'"

And he said yes.

"He was out all the time," she said.

Meryl was born in the Bronx and raised in the suburb North Massapequa, Long Island, surrounded by a large family.

"I do have to give my parents credit," she said. "They were very adventurous."

Being adventurous in the city, Meryl said, is part of her DNA.

Meryl was also a New York City public school art teacher in Bushwick, Brooklyn, for 31 years. She captured the neighborhoods, regular New Yorkers on the subway, and the gritty, crime-ridden, graffiti-stained city she loves.

"I truly enjoy people for who they are. I truly do," Meryl said. "Try your best not to stereotype people because they're much, they're much deeper than anything you know."

Her camera even took her to the White House to meet President Jimmy Carter and First Lady Rosalynn Carter.

"I met a White House photographer who loved my work and invited me down to photograph the inauguration of Jimmy Carter," she said.

More than 40 years later, Meryl is still getting surprised and feeling blessed for the life she lives.

"I was just born lucky to be a part of this wonderful city," she said.

Meryl's newest book is Paradise and Purgatory: Sassy '70s Suburbia and the City.