Best Places to Shoot: New York City

New York City is one of the most iconic, most-visited cities in the world and in the age of social media it’s important to have an idea of where to take great photos.  Every tourist has snapped a selfie in Times Square or outside Katz’s Deli, but while these popular places do have the advantage of being instantly identifiable on Facebook or Instagram, New York City also offers flexibility in terms of scenery and aesthetics for serious photographers who want to showcase a different side of the city. From architecture to garden landscapes, the city is full of places that are both interesting to photograph as well as fun to visit.

According to Culture Trip, Snug Harbor on the northern shore of Staten Island is a beautiful hidden gem of the city.  After 40 years of restoration, the former resting home for sailors now serves as a regional arts center and park. The grounds are largely open to the public and offer a unique garden setting for photographs and shoots, particularly the Staten Island Botanical Gardens, which are housed on the grounds, free to explore, and provide additional flexibility for any impromptu photoshoot. The 19th-century architecture of the buildings on the property also adds a rare element to any landscape, including one of the oldest concert halls in New York City and the Main Hall, built in 1833. The Snug Harbor website indicates a beautiful mix of specific architectural periods and places as well as contemporary works within the garden. For photographers looking for something more natural and idyllic than the typical New York City street shoot, this hidden gem is a solid bet.

If you’re looking for something a little more traditionally “NYC”, the trendy fashionistas at Condé Nast Traveler recommend Brooklyn Bridge Park in Dumbo, Brooklyn. The iconic location sits just across from the Brooklyn Bridge, providing spectacular views of Lower Manhattan. Regardless of the time of day, the stunning views make for the quintessential New York City backdrop. Or venture onto the bridge itself for an edgier shoot with the winding East River and Manhattan and Williamsburg Bridges in the background. For another breathtaking shot of Lower Manhattan, particularly One World Trade Center, hop over to Exchange Place Waterfront in Jersey City, New Jersey, just a quick ride on the PATH train away.

It really doesn’t get more New York City than Central Park, another great place for photoshoots.  Areas in the park like the Bethesda Terrace, the Belvedere Castle, and Strawberry Fields create a unique aesthetic for a photoshoot, one that is drastically different than the typical locations you might find in the city. The unique architecture as well as its rich history can give your photos a very special look. Don’t be afraid to keep it simple, either–a stroll down The Mall past the Naumberg Bandshell with artists, vendors, dancers, and musicians in the background will inspire countless street-style photoshoots.

According to photography blogger Jim Nix, the New York Public Library is a magnificent place to photograph. The steps of the library with its unforgettable lion statues on either side are immediately recognizable as a New York City landmark and can help to create a very interesting backdrop for a shoot. Once you’re done there, go around the building to the Bryant Park Winter Village and ice skating rink, a perfect place for that seasonal photoshoot. Additionally, if you’re looking to emphasize that classic Manhattan aesthetic, the Chelsea Market makes for an ultra trendy downtown location ideal for street shots.

For a glimpse into the future and stunning architecture one can only see in New York, be sure to check out the Oculus located at the World Trade Center Transportation Hub. The NYCGo website says that during the day natural light streams into the massive space and at night the inner lights provide a glow for those on the street outside making the structure fascinating to look at no matter what the time of day. Unique to the aesthetic of the area, the newly built structure is breathtaking to look at and would certainly be a unique backdrop for a photoshoot.

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