DISCOVERING THE BEST PHOTOGRAPHY LOCATIONS IN NEW YORK CITY
An easy guide to navigate your way across the most insta-worthy pockets of the city.
Whether you’re headed uptown, downtown, across town or in Midtown, New York City is full of photography gems. It’s grid layout lends itself to plenty of leading lines and opportunity for street photography, while gentrified areas of Brooklyn shine a light on the city’s offerings beyond Manhattan. To make it easier, I’ve compiled a list of some of the best photo locations across New York.
For those of you planning a trip to New York, it’s probably seemed a monumental task trying to work out how you can fit everything in, the city is HUGE! We tend to work in areas when we travel, covering corners off at a time to maximise our visit and get the most out of our stays. We spent 7 days in New York and didn’t even come close to seeing everything!
To help you make the most of your travels in the city and snap plenty of content to keep that feed going, let’s kick things off!
1. Grand Central Station
Spotted: One of New York’s busiest commuter hubs teaming with tourists and locals alike. Don’t miss your chance to the be city’s favourite blonde on the balcony. XoXo Gossip Girl
You’ve no doubt seen this iconic train station in movies and TV series, which is why it’s first up on the list. Always busy, this landmark in Midtown is well maintained thanks to Jackie Kennedy Onassis fighting to have it preserved. If you’re looking to have your very own GG moment, arrive early morning or late evening, outside the peak periods.
2. New York Public Library
Another great place to explore in Midtown is the New York Public Library. You can easily reach the library by a short walk from Grand Central Station, or Bryant Park. This is a working library, so ensure to remain respectful of those using the premises, but do enjoy the old woodwork and fresco ceiling in the main hall. At Christmas the foyer is decorated in seasonal furnishings including a glorious tree in Astor Hall.
Entry is free.
3. Brooklyn Bridge
A quintessential bucket list item for The Big Apple, Brooklyn Bridge is one for everyone. To get the bridge to yourself, or with a few locals on their way to work, visit early morning just after sunrise to enjoy the walk without the crowds. Grab a coffee and enjoy the morning before the boardwalks are teeming with bodies. If crossing from Manhattan to Brooklyn, don’t forget to turn around to take in the few looking back across the financial district in lower Manhattan.
Whether you start or finish your journey across Brooklyn Bridge in Brooklyn, a visit to DUMBO shouldn’t be missed. Those of you who are fans of Gossip Girl will recognise these red brick warehouses as home to Lonely Boy, but the few from the street is the one we’re all here for. We visited around 7am after crossing Brooklyn Bridge from Manhattan to Brooklyn, and were pleasantly surprised by how few people were around. I had visited around midday the day before (Christmas day!) and chaos ensued. If dodging tourists trying to the perfect selfie for the ‘gram is how you prefer things, start you here before exploring more of Brooklyn’s hip offerings.
Midtown is where you’ll find famous streets like 5th and Maddison Ave where the rich and famous like to shop, the Rockefeller Centre, home to the most famous Christmas Tree in the city and a host of other tourist hot spots. If visiting around Christmas and New Year as we did, the streets are heaving with visitors. If you want to snap a few shots of the iconic tree or any of the storefront displays, best to explore early morning. Are you sensing a trend here? A snowing Sunday morning was ideal to wander at 8am, allowing a much more peaceful experience. You’d find excellent displays at Cartier and Sacks 5th Ave, along with well known venue Radio City.
6. The High Line
The High Line is a converted railroad spur running down the westside of Manhattan from Midtown to Chelsea. In the warmer months, the space is a lush greenway filled with plant life, although in the winter months it looks a little bare. No matter what time of year you walk to 2.3km stretch, you’ll be greeted with ideal views that take full advantage of New York’s grid layout that make for perfect linear shots with plenty of leading lines. Some best places are 10th Ave Box, 17th Street, 14th Street and Chelsea Market.
7. Top of the Rock
When considering whether Top of the Rock is for you, you need to decide it you want views of the Empire State Building or the view from the Empire State Building. The skyline you see in the pictures above and below are from Top of the Rock, we wanted the Empire State Building in our shots. We opted for sunset which is notoriously busy and the crowds are jammed on the rooftop. The benefits of the sunset slot gives you the best of both worlds, day and night above the city. If you hang around for for hour after sunset, you’ll not only get those beautiful golden hour shots, but also the city when it lights up just before night sets in. If you visit earlier in the day you can be lucky enough to have the place almost all to yourself if you’re in luck!
Cost: USD50 approx per person including taxes for sunset, slightly cheaper for day or night entry tickets
8. From above the city
This isn’t one for the feint of heart. Doors-off scenic heli flights with FLYNYON let you experience the city from a completely new angle. Be the envy of all your friends when you snap your feet dangling high in the sky over one of the most coveted skylines in the world. For those not so brave, there is a doors-on option, but if you’re looking for the best photos from above, the door-off flight will give you the most freedom and no impairment from glass or reflections. You can choose from either a 15-minute or 30-minute flight, with the longer giving you a flight all the way above midtown and Central Park, over Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges and the Statue of Liberty. This is one way to easily cover off all those big monuments in one easy trip.
Notes: If you aren’t sure you want to commit or can afford the 30-minute flight, you can upgrade on the day if you change your mind. Sunset time slots are more expensive, but the light is magical and we highly recommend you choose their shuttle option, that way you can ensure you won’t miss your booking slot!
9. Lower Manhattan: Soho, Nolita, Little Italy and Chinatown
If you’re looking to escape the chaos that is Midtown, then these trendy neighbourhoods of lower Manhattan might just be the place for you. Filled with a multitude of cafes and dining options, boutique stores and quirky shopfronts you’re sure to find something to catch your eye and fill your insta feed. We also based ourselves in Chinatown for the majority of our week in New York and found getting away from the hustle and bustle much more pleasant.
10. Street Art
There’s no one place that New York’s street art calls home, but some areas carry much more than others. You’ll spot a few familiar faces while walking the High Line, snap some colourful montages through Lower Manhattan, but if you’re really looking for the mecca of street art in the city, cross over to the hipster neighbourhood of Brooklyn and pay the Bushwick Collective a visit. Here, artists are free to paint an array of colourful and eye catching pieces, some more socially and politically motivated than others. We visited around midday on a Sunday and only had to share the area with a handful of others.
Another neighbourhood in Lower Manhattan, Tribeca is home to several comedy clubs as well as wide, quiet streets on the west side. If you’ve travelled south along the High Line, pop by Chelsea Market before continuing south to Tribeca where you can spot a very #AccidentlyWesAnderson-esque bar, Tiny’s & the bar upstairs and Staple Street, with it’s iron bridge connecting the buildings eitherside.
12. The Oculus
A visit to The Oculus is a must, whether you’d made your way here to pay your respects to those that lost their lives during 9/11 at the memorial and museum, or you simply like to admire architecture full of clean lines and wide spaces, you’ll find plenty of subject matter here to photograph. Once you’ve finished in Tribeca, continue south toward the financial district where you’ll find both of these.
In a city this big, it’s not hard to see why covering off everything on your list can be difficult, especially if you only have a few days. We recommend spending at least a week in New York so you don’t feel too rushed and can take your time to enjoy it. This list certainly isn’t comprehensive, and there’s so many other places to snap a great picture and capture the essence of one of the world’s largest metropolis’s. A few more places to add to your list are:
The Flat Iron Building
Washing Square Park
The Empire State Building
Coney Island (Summer)
The Statue of Liberty
Found this guide useful? Why not share it on Pinterest?