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New York is a great destination for photographers. We show you the most beautiful photo spots in New York and give you our best tips for taking pictures in one of the most exciting cities in the world.
New York is one of the most photogenic cities in the world.
No wonder our memory cards regularly glow when we’re in New York.
In addition to the well-known sights in New York, there are of course a lot of photo motifs that not everyone knows yet.
Do you also like photography and will soon be going to New York? Perfect!
A selection of our favorite photo spots in New York we show you in this article.
We also give you practical photo tips and tell you what photo equipment you need in New York and what else you need to consider when taking pictures in New York.
Photographing the New York skyline
One of the most popular photo motifs in New York is the skyline. No calendar or picture book about New York can do without a skyline photo and of course quite rightly so.
Our favorite photo spot: Brooklyn Bridge Park
There are countless photo spots where you can photograph the New York skyline. But our absolute favorite is the view from Brooklyn Bridge Park.
At this photo spot there are numerous wooden piles in the East River and offer a great foreground for your photo. Especially at sunset, this photo location is a great tip.
The place is very popular with photographers, so it’s best to go there a little earlier.
More photo spots for the New York skyline
Of course, there are a lot of other locations where you can photograph the New York skyline. Lots of great photo spots can be found in Brooklyn along the East River.
But also in New Jersey on the other side of Manhattan there are some very good photo spots. A great place to photograph the skyline at sunrise is Old Glory Park in Union City, New Jersey.
Manhattanhenge: A very special sunset
Sunsets are always a very special motif for photographers, of course also in New York.
If you like to photograph sunsets and are flexible in time when planning your trip, you should add two dates to the calendar.
Twice a year, a very special spectacle takes place in New York. The sun then sets exactly between the high-rise canyons along the straight roads leading from east to west.
Based on the British Stonehenge, this phenomenon is called Manhattanhenge in New York.
When is Manhattanhenge?
Manhattanhenge occurs twice a year, three weeks before and three weeks after the summer solstice, say, may be on May 29 and July 12.
The exact dates vary slightly each year, but as a clue you can definitely remember them.
Most of the time, the days before and after the exact date are already very interesting in terms of photography.
The sun does not set exactly between the high-rises, but at least partially.
By the way, there is also Manhattanhenge for sunrise. About two weeks before and after the winter solstice, the sun rises between the streets in the morning.
So if you like to get up early for a good photo, then you should register the 5th of December and the 8th of January in the calendar.
Where is the best place to photograph Manhattanhenge?
Not all streets in Manhattan are equally suitable for photographing the Manhattanhenge. The wider streets are particularly popular, including 14th, 23rd, 34th, 42nd and 57th Streets.
You should be careful not to stand too far west. A slightly elevated position is also recommended.
We took pictures on 57th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues. If you want to take the perfect Manhattanhenge photo, you should definitely look for a perfect photo spot on the days before.
Photo spots for lovers of modern architecture
New York also has a lot to offer architecturally. If you like to photograph abstract forms and modern architecture, you’ll get your money’s worth in New York.
In this section, we’ll introduce you to our favorite architecture photo spots in New York.
Oculus is the name of the new main hall of the World Trade Center station. After the old station was badly damaged on 11 September 2001, a new station hall was built, which was opened in 2016.
From the outside, the Oculus is already a real eye-catcher. But it is particularly photogenic from the inside.
A particularly beautiful perspective can be found at the head ends of the large hall, where you have a great view over the entire building.
Whether tripods are allowed in the Oculus, there are different opinions about this.
We have not found any official information about a ban. In some cases, however, it is said that security guards on site have forbidden the taking with tripod.
The Guggenheim Museum in New York is one of the most famous buildings of modern architecture in New York. The spiral architecture of the building is not only quite impressive, but also a great photo motif.
Tripods are prohibited in the building. In addition, it is not allowed to hold the camera far above the parapet to take pictures down.
The security guards pay quite close attention to this, because the danger is simply too great that a camera will fall down.
Photo spots for lovers of historical architecture
The Public Library is one of three public libraries in New York City. The imposing building is a real island of peace in the hustle and bustle of the city and quite an interesting photo spot.
There are rooms in the building where photography is allowed and rooms where it is forbidden. Photographing with flash is generally not allowed.
Grand Central Station
Grand Central Station is the world’s most famous train station in the heart of Manhattan. In particular, the huge terminal hall was featured in countless films and is also a popular motif for every photographer.
The Grand Central Station is actually very hectic around the clock and it is often very crowded.
In principle, photography is allowed within the station.
However, the use of professional equipment (e.g. a tripod) requires a permit from the Metro-North’s Corporate & Public Affairs Department (Meredith Conti, tel. (212) 340-4825, mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).
Approval should be applied for as early as possible, but at least one week in advance. The permit is free of charge and is usually valid for one hour.
Our tip: But you don’t necessarily need a large tripod to take pictures in the hall. On the gallery at the end of the hall there is a very wide railing on which you can conveniently place the camera. From there we also took our photos, because we did not want to apply for a permit.
And if you’re wondering now if we’ve left our camera alone on the railing, the answer is: No, of course not! We had a visit from our parents who stood guard for us!
New York from above
New York is photogenic from all perspectives, of course also from above. In this section, we’ll show you where you can best photograph New York from a bird’s-eye view.
Observation platforms for photographers
There are three well-known vantage points in New York, which are of course also highly popular with photographers: Top of the Rock, the Empire State Building and the One World Observatory.
Of course, we have tried all three viewing platforms and our absolute favourite is the Top of the Rock.
Top of the Rock offers great views of Central Park to the north and the Empire State Building to the south.Especially great for taking pictures is the Top of the Rock, as there are no disturbing glass panes in the way and you have a great view of the Empire State Building.
You can also take pictures on the Empire State Building without glass panes. However, it is much fuller and narrower up there and therefore a little more difficult to photograph.
For this you have a very nice view of the Flatiron Building from the Empire State Building.
From a photographic point of view, the One World Observatory was the least convincing for us. On the one hand, the view is less spectacular than from the other two viewing platforms.
On the other hand, you can only enjoy the view behind glass panes, which makes it very difficult to take pictures.
Helicopter flights for photographers
The absolute nonplusultra is, of course, a helicopter flight over New York.
Most sightseeing flights, however, do not pass directly over Manhattan, but only along the rivers. Besides, you always have to take pictures through the windows of the helicopter and with a little bad luck you even get a center seat.
There are also special helicopter tours for photographers. You fly without windows and doors and the vendors also have permission to fly directly over Manhattan.
The whole thing comes at a price, of course, but it is also an absolutely unique experience. We made such a flight on our last trip to New York and it was the absolute hammer.
Special photo spots
In this section we have put together some special photo spots for you
Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass is a small neighborhood in Brooklyn, known primarily by its acronym Dumbo.
In Dumbo you will find one of the most famous photo motifs in New York. On the corner of Washington Street / Water Street, a pillar of the Manhattan Bridge rises between the red brick houses.
By the way, through the lower arch of the bridge you can even see the Empire State Building.
This photo spot is presented by our reader Tasha. If you also know a great photo spot in New York and would like to show it here, we are happy to receive a message
The Coney Island Peninsula is located at the extreme southern tip of Brooklyn, right on the Atlantic coast.
Photographically, there is a lot to discover on Coney Island. In addition to long beaches, there is the old Luna Park amusement park and the Russian little Odessa district.
For the trip to Coney Island you should take some time with you, because the journey takes relatively long. Take Subway lines D or Q to Stillwell Avenue.
Street photography in New York
What do we like to do in New York? We just walk through the streets with our cameras, let ourselves drift and photograph the typical New York life.
We can only warmly recommend you to simply go with your camera and leave the well-known sights deliberately to the left. You will see, there are great photo motifs everywhere.
Especially good for a small photo walk are Chinatown, Harlem, the East Village or Soho. There is something to discover and photograph everywhere.
Street art in New York
If you like to photograph street art, you’ll love New York. The city is definitely one of the best places in the world to see street art and of course take pictures. This is one of the best photo spots in New York.
The absolute hotspot for street art is the Bushwick neighborhood in Brooklyn. But also the East Village, Soho or Williamsburg are great places for street art photos.
Photo equipment for New York
What you can photograph in New York, you know now. Now let’s take a quick look at what you should definitely have with you for your photo tour in New York.
The right lenses
The houses in New York are huge and the streets are often narrow. That’s why we recommend that you definitely take a lens with as much wide angle as possible. Only in this way you really get everything from the huge skyscrapers to your picture.
Telephoto lenses and long focal lengths, on the other hand, you will hardly need in New York. New York is also great for just getting started with a fixed focal length.
More information about choosing the right lens can be found in our detailed lens consultation:
Our lens consulting
Tripod: Yes or no?
Some photo spots in New York are very suitable for long exposures, for which you usually need a tripod. However, it’s not really fun to drag a tripod through New York all day.
We therefore recommend that you choose a light version. We had our travel trip from Rollei with us, which is light enough to actually carry it all day long.
At many photo spots, however, you will hardly have the opportunity to build your tripod, because it is either forbidden or simply far too crowded.
So it’s not a bad idea to just pack a little Gorillapod tripod. You can often put this up in places where larger tripods are forbidden and don’t have to carry a big tripod around with you all day long.
In addition to batteries and enough memory cards, you definitely need something for New York to clean your lenses.
We always have our lens brush with us, with which we can remove small dust and dirt particles from the lens at any time.
In addition, a polarity filter is recommended to reduce the reflections, especially for photos with water in the foreground. We use Haida’s Nano Slim polar filters, which are really good in terms of value for money.
For long exposures, you also need an ND filter. Here, too, we have had good experiences with Haida’s ND 1000 filters.
If you don’t have that much experience with filter photography or would like to learn more about the topic in general, read our detailed article on the subject:
Lens Filters: Our tips for photographing with filters
These were our photo tips and favorite photo spots in New York. Of course, this is only a small selection and there are many, many other great places.
Do you know good photo spots in New York? Then we are very happy about your comment.