The Big Apple is an amazing place to take photos. There’s so many places to take pictures in NYC though that you might feel overwhelmed. That’s why we’ve put together this list of the best places for New York photography.
Let’s find out how to make the most of New York photography.
1. Central Park
Central Park runs through Manhattan island. It will take you over an hour to walk along its length, and along the way there are plenty of opportunities for photography.
Whether you enjoy a bit of street photography in the park, or some urban landscapes, there will be something here for you.
- Bethesda Fountain and Terrace – The arches are great for architecture photography, especially if you use them to frame the fountain. If you want to have the area to yourself, you’ll need to arrive very early. If you arrive a little later, get some photos of people relaxing around the fountain.
- The lake – There is an attractive boathouse situated on the lake, and the boats themselves can make a good focal point for your photo.
- Ghostbusters Building – You’ll find this at 55 Central Park West, not far from the lake.
- Alice in Wonderland Statue – Those looking for an interesting statue to photograph have found the right place!
- The Imagine Memorial – This is located in the strawberry fields area of Central Park, for those of you who enjoyed John Lennon’s music.
Central Park in New York has many photographic opportunities. Here you can see the Bethesda terrace.
2. Brooklyn Bridge
One of the best places to take pictures in NYC is the Brooklyn Bridge. There are great photos to be taken either on the bridge itself, or from the Brooklyn side of the bridge.
- On the bridge – The suspension cables leading up to the brick towers of Brooklyn bridge are an iconic New York landmark. It’s always crowded during the day, so arrive early if you don’t want people in your photo. You’ll need a wide angle lens to take full advantage of photos on the bridge.
- Pebble beach – This shore front is in the Dumbo area of Brooklyn, close to the bridge itself. It’s a great location to see the skyline during sunset, and then the blue hour.
Right next to the Brooklyn Bridge is the Manhattan Bridge, and once again this is a famous New York photo. Line yourself up on Washington Street and frame one of the towers of the bridge with the red brick buildings on either side.
The best time of day for this photo is blue hour.
The Brooklyn Bridge is New York’s most photogenic bridge.
3. Grand Central Station
An integral part of New York history, this station opened in 1871. There are plenty of opportunities for photography here. You’ll want to begin with a wide establishing photo of the station, and this can be taken at a vantage point over the station’s main hall.
Beyond this photo you’ll find lots of street photography and slice of life moments here. You can also home in on some detail photos of the station’s archways and roofing.
Once you’ve finished photographing you can grab a bite to eat on the station’s basement floor.
Grand Central Station has great architectural details.
4. Chelsea Market
Chelsea Market is a great place for those who like food and street photography. Located on the west side of Manhattan, the market offers many street photography, food photography and quirky architecture photography opportunities.
You’ll want to bring a wide angle lens here for context photos that show the wider scene, perhaps through a brick archway.
Then get out your favourite street photography lens, and look for those moments of capture around the market.
The weekend offers a similar set of photographic opportunities to the Chelsea Market, only this time in an outdoor setting. Head to Williamsburg on Saturday, or Prospect Park on Sunday.
While you’re there don’t forget to sample some of the delicious food in-between taking your photos!
The Chelsea Market is great for street photography, and for satisfying any cravings!
5. Rockefeller Center
The Rockefeller Center offers architecture, sculptures and a fantastic view for your photography. Starting at street level, you’ll first find the Atlas sculpture and in front of the Rockefeller center, the new Seated Ballerina.
In the vicinity of the Rockefeller Center, you can find St Patrick’s Cathedral, a great building to juxtapose against the more modern looking structures that surround it.
Going up the tower to the viewing deck will give you great views over New York, with the Empire State Building an obvious focal point for your photos.
The Rockefeller Center offers great views from both street level and the top.
6. Empire State Building
In a city full of skyscrapers one name stands out, and that’s the Empire State Building. This building makes a great focal point for your cityscape pictures, with one such view found from the aforementioned Rockefeller Ccenter.
There are several other photos you can take from street level though, and these include detail photos, and worm’s eye views.
The big draw for many people visiting the Empire State Building is the view of the city. You can book your tickets online, and going for the sunrise will give you a better chance of a nice view. The tickets for sunrise are limited to 100 per day though, so book early.
Those looking to visit for sunset and blue hour should expect large crowds, and a waiting time of up to several hours.
The view from the top of the Empire State Building.
7. Statue of Liberty
Famously donated to the United States by France, the Statue of Liberty has since become an integral part of New York identity.
Those wishing to see the statue have several options to do so. Which one you choose depends on the type of photo you want to get.
- Visit Liberty Island – For the closest views of the statue you’ll need to visit Liberty Island. This will allow you to get close enough to take portrait style photos of the Statue’s face. You can also climb the statue, and get views back across the Manhattan.
- The Ferry to Staten Island – The free ferry to Staten Island cruises right past the Statue of Liberty, allowing you to take photos of the statue from a distance.
- Liberty State Park – Another options is Liberty Park. You won’t see the front of the statue from this location.
- Port Jersey Boulevard – A little tricky to reach, but this is a great location to photograph the statue from. You’ll need a long telephoto lens, and you’ll have the Manhattan skyscrapers as a nice backdrop from this location. Since you’re on land, you’ll also be able to use a tripod for long exposures, and photograph during blue hour as the city lights up.
The Statue of Liberty, as seen from the Staten Island Ferry.
8. Manhattan Skyline
New York is really the original city of the skyscrapers, though these days there are plenty of other cities around the world that this title to apply to.
New York cityscapes always look nice, so there is an obvious urge as a photographer to find the best location for these. You’ll have a number of options for this type of photo, so let’s run through these here.
- Brooklyn Bridge Park – This is one of the best places to take pictures in NYC. The wooden walkway leads the eye to the Manhattan skyline in the background. You’ll need to check the tide times for the best time to visit.
- New Jersey – Views of Manhattan can also be found looking onto the island from the other side of the Upper Bay. The locations are ideal for blue hour, and sunrise. As mentioned earlier, there is a spot at port Jersey that allows you to include the statue of liberty in the same frame as the Manhattan skyline.
- One of the viewing galleries – There are three well-known buildings with viewing galleries. The empire state building, the Rockefeller Center and the new One World Trade Center. Each offers a slightly different vantage point, and you’ll need a good wide angle lens to capture the scene.
- Worm’s eye views – Another type of photo is looking up at an intersection between skyscrapers. You’ll need to walk around an area dense with these buildings to get this type of photo. Fortunately Manhattan has these areas in abundance.
New York cityscapes can be spectacular. This photo was taken from Brooklyn Bridge Park.
9. The Gridiron
Another famous building in New York is the Gridiron, so named because it looks like an iron. This is a great place to practice your architecture photography skills, and there are a number of compositions you could attempt.
If you’re lucky enough to get a vantage point near the junction the Gridiron sits on, that’s a great angle. Photos from street level can include a long exposure that shows car traffic light trails passing the building during blue hour.
Or you can focus only on the building, photographed against a sunny blue sky.
The Gridiron’s unique shape makes it an interesting subject to photograph.
10. Time Square
Time Square is where you’ll see all New York’s neon lights, glam, and perhaps its slightly seedier side. As a photographer, all the neon signs hold obvious appeal.
You’ll need to be in Time Square from blue hour to capture this signs at their best. A combination of techniques like long exposure, and zoom burst will be interesting to experiment with here.
Beyond that, there are various street performers dressed up in things like the Statue of Liberty, whom you can take photos with. You’ll also likely see the desnudas, women naked save for some body paint, usually the US flag.
These street performers usually want a tip, so whether you choose to take the photo or not will be at your discretion.
Time Square is home to lots of bright lights, street performers, and many tourists.
The Best of the Rest
New York, being the large city it is, has many places you can take photos of. Below is a brief description of some of the best that didn’t make it in this article.
- The New York Public Library – This building is great for architecture photography
- The Oculus – One of New York’s newest buildings is the Oculus with its fascinating roof.
- Brooklyn – Brooklyn is a great area to take street photos, and photos of murals on buildings.
- The Girl and the Bull – The fearless girl and the charging bull are in the business district area of Manhattan. A popular place for selfies and group photos.
The Oculus is a great example of modern architecture, and is found in lower Manhattan.
Brooklyn is a great area to visit to see a different side to New York.
So there you have it, the best places to take pictures in NYC. This is a city that will keep you busy taking photos, and will inspire you to take more!
Get the camera bag loaded with a wide angle, a telephoto and your favourite prime lens. Attach a tripod to your bag for long exposures, and perhaps experiment with techniques like refraction photography.
The Big Apple is waiting for you, so what are you waiting for?
A note from Josh, ExpertPhotography's Photographer-In-Chief:
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