The Best Photo Locations in New York City
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New York, the city that never sleeps, is heaven for any photographer. From its stunning skyline to its street photography New York City is crammed full to the brim of iconic photo locations just waiting to be captured. Having spent a few years living in this amazing metropolis we can safely say it’s our favourite city in the world and it is the one that helped me personally fall in love with photography with countless weekends spent exploring the city in search of new and exciting photography spots. We’ve put together this list of the best photo locations in New York City: it’s our guide on where to take the best pictures of New York. Enjoy!
1 | DUMBO’s Washington Street
One of the most iconic New York City images is actually captured from Brooklyn! In the area known as DUMBO (Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass) you’ll find people queuing up to take selfies from this iconic spot on Water Street and Washington Street. From here, Washington Street aligns perfectly to give this beautiful view of the Washington Bridge with the Manhattan skyline in the background and the Empire State Building framed perfectly by the legs of the bridge.
NYC Photo Tip: Obviously this is a very popular place for tourists and photographers alike so be prepared to wait for your turn to capture this beautiful view. The street is filled with businesses and residents and has a steady flow of traffic so be careful not to get in the way in the pursuit of a picture.
2 | The Brooklyn Bridge
The Brooklyn Bridge, linking Manhattan and Brooklyn, is a New York icon. The pedestrian walkway on the bridge gives panoramic views across the city from downtown up to mid-town. All the major New York buildings are visible, from One World Trade in the financial district to the Chrysler building and the Empire State in Midtown.
Our favourite photo of the bridge is from the centre of the bridge itself where the symmetrical cables make for a stunning composition. Be prepared to get up really early for shots with no one on the bridge – we braved a sub-zero January sunrise to capture this image and have the bridge pretty much to ourselves.
New York Photo Tip: The Brooklyn bridge is a suspension bridge so forget trying to get a long exposure photo from on the bridge itself – the passing traffic results in constant vibrations.
3 | Grand Central Station
The main concourse of Grand Central Station is instantly recognisable even to those who have never visited NYC and the station has appeared in countless movies featuring the city. The famous train terminal is constantly buzzing with people travelling to and from the city. It’s great for street photography and landscape shots of the building itself.
I took this photo of Elaine standing still in the forefront of the image using a long exposure to capture the mayhem that is Grand Central during the day!
Where to stay in New York
We’ve stayed all over the city during our trips to NYC. Here’s some of our favourite hotels:
- Courtyard Soho: for its downtown location and price. – click here for latest prices
- Pod 51: an awesome and funky option close to the Rockefeller Center – click here for latest prices
- Renaissance Times Square: for its Times Square location, spacious rooms and the stunning R Lounge bar. You can have breakfast overlooking the iconic Times Square and enjoy cocktails in the evenings overlooking the lights! – click here for latest prices
- SIXTY Lower East Side: when we want to explore downtown with an incredible rooftop pool! This one is not to be missed – click here for latest prices
- Hi NYC: on the Upper West Side is a great hostel option – click here for latest prices
4 | The Morgan Library
The Morgan library is a true hidden gem in New York and one of the most beautiful places in the city. A short walk from Grand Central station, the former library of J.P. Morgan (of banking fame) houses a stunning collection of historic artifacts and manuscripts from original Mozart compositions to the original Gutenberg bibles. Tripods are not allowed but I managed to capture this handheld image of the Morgan Library itself.
5 | New York Public Library
Housing almost 50 million individual items the New York public library has one of the largest collections in the world. The entrance to the New York Public library will be of most interest to photographers with the two lions, nicknamed Patience and Fortitude, guarding the steps to this beautiful building. The recently renovated Rose Reading Room is also stunning.
New York City Guidebooks
Check out our favourite NYC guidebooks for more trip inspiration:
6 | Atlas at the Rockefeller Centre
Recognisable from the intro sequence of the show 30 Rock, the statue depicting Atlas carrying the heavens in front of the Rockefeller centre is one of my favourite images of NYC.
New York City Photo tip: the most imposing images of Atlas can be taken at night when the lights of the surrounding buildings bring the scene to life.
7 | Times Square
Although cliché, Times Square is one of our favourite places in New York City. Constantly packed with tourists and locals this area is great for street photography and the views are epic.
For the best vantage point of Times Square we like the R Lounge in the Renaissance Times Square hotel – the lounge overlooks Times Square and the views are incredible. Non residents can stop by the bar for a drink and the staff don’t generally have an issue with people taking photos of the stunning view once you’re there as a paying patron. We usually spend a few nights here when visiting NYC.
New York: Photography Gear
My main camera is currently a Nikon D7200 with the Sigma 17-50mm f2.8 and the Sigma 70-200 f2.8. Elaine uses the compact Fuji XT-10 for all her shots. We use Adobe Lightroom for editing all our photos and highly recommend (we pay €12.29 a month for a combination of Lightroom and Photoshop which is a fantastic deal).
8 | Central Park
Central Park has so many beautiful photo opportunities that it is difficult to list them all. We’ve included some of our favourites but there are an abundance of amazing photo spots throughout the park.
New York Photo Tip: Not many visitors realise but Central Park has a 1am curfew and you will get stopped by the cops and possibly arrested if you’re caught in the park after hours.
Bethesda Fountain & Terrace
The stunning Bethesda Terrace which leads out to the fountain is one of our favourite spaces in Central Park. There is always an incredible energy around the fountain during the day, but early morning just after sunrise is our favourite time, when the only people you’ll meet are dog walkers and runners.
Imagine memorial in Strawberry Fields
The beautiful Strawberry Fields memorial between 71st and 74th on Central Park West is dedicated to the late Beatle John Lennon who lived with his wife Yoko Ono in the Dakota Apartments adjacent to Strawberry Fields. The iconic ‘Imagine’ mosaic is located in the centre of Strawberry Fields and makes for an amazing capture.
There are over 20 arches dotted around Central Park so it’s hard to miss them as you stroll around the park. Our favourite is Glade Arch which is located just west of 5th Avenue and 79th Street.
The leafy Central Park Mall runs through the middle of the Park from 66th street to 72nd street and is a hive of activity during the day with street performers, skateboarders, walkers and people watchers. For us, the Mall is at its most beautiful first thing in the morning.
The Loeb Boathouse
The Loeb Boathouse is a Central Park icon and a great location for some beautiful park photos. Enjoy a drink at the outdoor terrace bar and you’ll be able to capture some beautiful shots of the boathouse, the lake and the 55 Central Park West building, aka the Ghostbusters building.
Jackie Kennedy Onassis Reservoir
The Central Park Reservoir stretches from 86th to 96th street. Walking its perimeter is perhaps one of the most peaceful activities in the city and the views of the reservoir and the city skyline are picture perfect.
Central Park – Alice in Wonderland Statue
Dreams are made in New York city and the Alice in Wonderland statue tucked away in Central Park perfectly indulges childhood dreams! The Mad Hatter, the March Hare, the Cheshire Cat, the Dormouse and Alice are all in attendance at this tea party and the statue is the perfect opportunity to capture a more playful side of the city.
9 | Irish Hunger Memorial
The tribute to the 19th Century Great Irish Famine is a beautiful hidden memorial in downtown Manhattan. As an Irish person it is deeply moving to visit this beautiful memorial which depicts the ruins of an Irish Famine cottage from Mayo and includes stones from each county bearing their name as an inscription. The juxtaposition of this little ruin against the Manhattan skyscrapers is quite surreal.
10 | One World Trade
The main building of the rebuilt World Trade Centre, One World Trade is the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere and the skyscraper rises above the New York City skyline unlike any other building. The view from the observatory on the 102nd floor offers an uninterrupted panorama across the entire city and harbour. Even the Brooklyn Bridge looks like a toy from up here!
New York Photo tip: You can buy tickets to the One World Observatory in advance which also allow you to skip the line so you don’t have to wait! Buy your tickets now – Book Tour
11 | The Frick Collection
The former private collection of millionaire Henry Clay Frick, the present day Frick Collection is housed in an art museum and a great place for some unique photos.
New York Photo Tip: Photography is allowed without a flash throughout the museum. The museum is usually closed on Mondays.
12 | St Patrick’s Cathedral
Across the street from the Rockefeller Center and the Atlas Statue is the Neo-Gothic St Patrick’s Cathedral. The detail of the facade is outstanding and the spires tower above the street below.
13 | Statue of Liberty
A symbol of the USA, the Statue of Liberty stands tall in New York Harbour welcoming visitors to the city. For the best photos hop on a sunset cruise around the harbour – book your harbour cruise here!
New York photo tip: arrive at the cruise early to grab a good seat and enjoy the stunning views of the city and the Statue of Liberty from the water.
14 | Chelsea Market
For some of the best street photography opportunities and some of the best food in New York City make your way to Chelsea Market. Crammed with delicious eateries and unique stores the market will keep you occupied for hours.
15 | The High Line
This once crumbling overhead train track has been transformed into an elevated walkway along the west side of the city and gives some perfect vantage points of the city. Running from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District to West 34th Street 12th Avenue, a stroll along the High Line offers some of the best photo opportunities in New York City.
New York City Photo Tip: The best views are overlooking the Manhattan streets, the view of mid-town and the Empire State Building, and the view of the statue of Liberty from the Southern End. There’s also some great art installations and street art visible along the walk.
View of the Empire State Building from the High Line
16 | Top of the Rock
For the best views of mid-town and Central Park head to the viewing platforms at the top of the Rockefeller Centre on West 50th and 6th. The views from the top are simply breathtaking both north to central park and south along the Manhattan skyline.
Open every day of the year, click here to book the lowest ticket prices to the Top of the Rock
New York City Photo tip: No tripods allowed on the Top of the Rock but a gorillapod works great on the railings for stable shots.
17 | The Rainbow Room
The Rainbow Room, on the 65th floor of the Rockefeller Center, is a great complement to a visit to Top of the Rock or as an alternative if you prefer to supplement sightseeing with cocktails! Try to visit after dark to enjoy a cocktail with one of the best views of New York City – be sure to reserve a table in advance.
New York photo tip: the outdoor terrace at the Rainbow Room tends to close in winter or if bad weather prevails. The views are still fantastic from indoors.
18 | Flatiron Building
The triangular Flatiron Building, so named because of its resemblance to a cast-iron clothes iron, is one of the world’s most iconic skyscrapers as well as one of the most photographed.
19 | The Rockefeller Center
Another iconic New York building is the Rockefeller Center building itself. After visiting the Top of the Rock and the Rainbow Room make sure to stop by the Channel Gardens which offer a great angle of the building.
20 | The New York Stock Exchange
Having featured in many movies from Trading Places to The Dark Knight Rises, the New York Stock Exchange is located in the financial district and is a prominent New York City landmark and the final photo location of our list.
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