New York City photography guide

Where to take the best photos of New York City

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Polished your favorite lens? Packed your tripod? Time to find the best places to take photos in New York

Once you’ve settled in to your hotel, it’s time to hit the streets and hunt down amazing spots to take photos in the city. You’re sure to return home with some incredible shots after taking a look through this handy New York photography cheat sheet.

New York City has many photo-worthy places, including Times Square

Which New York City streets to photograph

Trying to find where to take the best street photography in NYC is not difficult.  Every twist and turn in this iconic metropolis will serve up scenes that make for brilliant street shots. Whether you want vivid street art, commanding structures or quirky faces, there’s something in NYC for every photographer.

Here is what to do, where to go, and how to capture the best street photos in New York City.

Street Art

New York City screams creativity, and there’s no better way to see and photograph it than by simply roaming the streets. Here are some of the best places to capture a few colorful street art shots.

  • The NYC High Line is the perfect place to get some shots of nature blending effortlessly with street art and architecture.
  • The Bushwick Collective is an outdoor street gallery with inspirational and ever-changing murals.
  • The Centre-Fuge Public Art Project transforms common streetscapes into beautiful works of art. Check their social media channels to find out where they’ll be during your visit.

Photographer’s tip: Try to take some shots with people in the frame to give the artwork scale and life.

Busy Areas

If you prefer to take candid portraits, head to the busier parts of town. Set up your camera at one of the locations below and wait for a perfect photo to come into view.

  • 5th Avenue and 57th Street is one of New York’s most bustling intersections. All you have to do here is wait.
  • Broadway is one of the most widely recognized streetscapes in the U.S. Everywhere you look is an amazing photo in the making.
  • 42nd Street, from Grand Central to Times Square is home to theaters, shops and fascinating architecture. These paired with some local characters are the perfect ingredients for stand-out street photography.

Photographer’s tip: To capture a sharp moment in time, use a fast shutter speed to avoid blur from moving objects. However, motion blur can sometimes make for an equally interesting image. If you have a tripod, use that to ensure static objects remain sharp. Play around with a slow shutter speed to create motion blur in passing pedestrians and traffic.

People crossing 5th Avenue in NYC - photo by Tourism Media

Best spots for photos of New York City by night

There is a dizzying array of stellar night photography spots in NYC. After all, this is the City that Never Sleeps. So, grab your camera, lower that shutter speed and venture out at dusk. Here are some of the best places for night shots.

NYC Skyline

Capture the New York City lights in all their glittering splendor at these incredible locations:

  • Brooklyn Bridge Park is a lovely place to spend an afternoon. As the sun sets, watch the city light up.
  • South Street Seaport is a great spot to capture the sparkling NYC lights reflecting in the water.
  • Gantry Plaza State Park is the perfect vantage point to take in the unmistakable New York skyline – and it gets even better at night.

Photographer’s tip: Use a tripod to get sharper images. If you’re shooting at night, dusk or dawn, lower the shutter speed to pick up as much light as possible.

New York City skyline at dusk from Brooklyn Bridge

From the ground

New York lights up when the sun sets. From its buildings to its ever-buzzing streets, there’s just so much to capture at night time. Here are some suggestions:

  • Grand Central Terminal is iconic during the day, but when the sun sets, it lights up gold.
  • Brooklyn Bridge is stunning at night. Try to capture its lights reflecting off the water below.
  • Times Square is a dazzling display of vibrant color. It is even more captivating at nighttime.
  • Chinatown is adorned with lanterns and neon lights. It comes alive when the sun goes down.

Photographer’s tip: Go out late to avoid the crowds.  

Times Square in NYC at night. Billboards light up the streets which are lined with traffic.

Capturing pictures of the famous New York City skyline

Of course, you can’t return home without a jaw-dropping shot of that iconic Manhattan skyline. Capture NYC’s unmistakable architecture from the very best places in and around the city.

From above

Here are some of the best places to shoot New York City’s famous skyline, from above. Get ready to start ticking these off your bucket list:

  • The top of the Empire State Building is one of the best places to get spanning 360-degree views of the New York City.
  • Rockefeller Center’s Top of the Rock Observation Deck is the perfect place to get an incredible view (and shot) of the Empire State Building as well as the rest of the city.

Photographer’s tip:  Use a tripod or camera grid to keep the horizon straight. You’ll thank yourself later!

View of New York City Skyline from the top of the Empire State Building

From afar

If you’re hoping to take an awe-inspiring panorama of the iconic skyline from afar, we suggest heading to these spots to photograph the city’s world-renowned buildings:

  • Jump aboard The Staten Island Ferry to get some amazing shots of the city from otherwise unreachable angles.
  • Liberty State Park is a lovely place to take in the city skyline from a distance. Wake up early and get out there for an amazing sunrise shot.

Photographer’s tip: Shoot wide to capture the enormity of the city skyline and use the rule of thirds to give your photos depth. (Rule of thirds: break down the frame into thirds both horizontally and vertically – into nine parts – and frame the scene accordingly.) 

The famous New York City skyline at twilight

 

Especially unique places to take photographs in NYC

Planning on shooting something a little different? If you’re searching for unique spots to take photos in NYC, we’ve got a treasure trove of options for you.

A world of color

On the hunt for unusual views of NYC? If you’re all about that colorful feed, then head straight to these vibrant spots:

  • Coney Island is home to the renowned Luna Park as well as plenty more amusement rides and attractions.
  • Doyers Street in the Chinatown area is lined with colorful shopfronts. This area makes for some vibrant photography opportunities.
  • The Tom Fruin Water Tower is a stained-glass sculpture near Brooklyn Bridge Park. Visit when the sun is out to get some stellar shots of light reflecting through the colored glass.

Photographer’s tip: If your camera has RAW shooting capabilities, use this setting to ensure you can enhance these colorful images in post-production. 

Luna Park, Coney Island. Photograph of colourful spinning ride in motion.

Architecture and style

Is your style less color and more character? These locations are sure to satisfy your appetite for unusual photo opportunities in the Big Apple:

  • Dead Horse Bay was once a horse rendering plant, and then a 19th century landfill. Today it is home to Bottle Beach, an intriguing spot for some unique photography opportunities.
  • City Hall Station is an abandoned subway station beneath the streets of New York. Its domed ceilings make for some undeniably unique shots.

Photographer’s tip: Experiment with angles to give a unique perspective.

 

Photo tours in NYC

If you’d prefer to tour the city with an expert, why not go on a photography tour? Here are some fabulous guided tours that are sure to cater to shutterbugs of all levels of experience.

Tours

Explore the city streets with a clued-up guide. With all the hard work done for you, you can relax and take some amazing shots with the help of a professional:

  • Take a Central Park Walking Tour to explore this lush labyrinth with an expert. All you need to bring is your camera.
  • Go on a Brooklyn Street Art Tour to be shown the best street art spots in the city.
  • Head out on a Lower East Side Tour to be shown the most interesting (and photo-worthy) areas of this trendy part of town.

Aerial Photography

If you have the means, helicopters give you angles you won’t find atop skyscrapers, and much less on the ground. Here are a few:


Make sure to check out our image library for tons of great photos from New York


 

Expedia compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site, such compensation may include travel and other costs.

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