Best Places to Take Photos in New York City

From the brilliant lights of Times Square to the expansive calm of Central Park, from the imposing stature of the Empire State Building to the tranquil shores near the Brooklyn Bridge—NYC has it all.

Each of these iconic New York locales pops up constantly on Instagram feeds and for good reason—they’re stunning.

Are you feeling overwhelmed? Let me guide you.

New York City’s vastness means a little planning goes a long way. After reading this, you’ll want to mark down your must-visit spots. I offer a streamlined one-day guide to the city’s most photogenic spots for those on a whirlwind visit to NYC wanting to maximize their time.

If you want to capture the quintessential NYC experience quickly, this guide is your shortcut. Don’t worry, I got you!

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Midtown Manhattan Photo Spots

Midtown Manhattan is a dazzling showcase of New York City’s urban splendor, featuring iconic landmarks, towering skyscrapers, and bustling streets. This area is a photographer’s playground, offering endless opportunities to capture the essence of the city’s energy and architecture.

Empire State Building

The Empire State Building, an Art Deco masterpiece, stands as a symbol of ambition and innovation. This 102-story skyscraper offers stunning views from its observation decks, which are a must-visit for both daytime cityscapes and mesmerizing nighttime scenes.

Address: 350 5th Ave, New York, NY 10118

Best Photo Tip: For a unique shot, capture the Empire State Building from the Top of the Rock Observation Deck at Rockefeller Center, especially during the golden hour for a breathtaking backdrop.

Times Square

Known as ‘The Crossroads of the World’, Times Square is famous for its neon lights, massive billboards, and the New Year’s Eve Ball Drop. The bustling crowds and vibrant displays provide dynamic elements for any photographer.

Address: Manhattan, NY 10036

Best Photo Tip: Climb up the red steps at the TKTS booth for a higher vantage point, capturing the bustling crowd and glowing advertisements.

Bryant Park

A quieter contrast to the hustle of nearby Times Square, Bryant Park is a serene oasis with a classic French-style carousel, lush lawns, and the majestic New York Public Library as its backdrop.

Address: New York, NY 10018

Best Photo Tip: Visit during winter when the park transforms into a Winter Village featuring an ice skating rink and holiday shops, perfect for festive photos.

Flatiron Building

The Flatiron Building, with its unique triangular shape, is one of New York City’s most iconic architectural landmarks. Situated at a busy intersection, the building offers a striking contrast to the surrounding modern skyscrapers with its Beaux-Arts style.

Address: 175 5th Ave, New York, NY 10010

Best Photo Tip: The best photo opportunities are from the north side of the building on 23rd Street. Aim for a wide-angle lens to capture the full majesty of the structure against the street vistas.

Financial District Photo Spots

The Financial District, at the southern tip of Manhattan, is a compelling blend of historic landmarks and sleek modern skyscrapers. It’s a place where the energy of global finance meets the rich history of New York City, offering diverse photographic opportunities, from towering buildings to historic streets.

Wall Street

Wall Street is synonymous with the financial pulse of the city, featuring historic buildings like the New York Stock Exchange and the Federal Hall. Its narrow, winding streets are lined with imposing buildings that provide a dramatic urban canyon effect.

Address: Wall St, New York, NY 10005

Best Photo Tip: Focus on capturing the hustle and bustle of the area during trading hours, or for a contrast, visit on a weekend for a quieter, more deserted look. The iconic Charging Bull sculpture also offers interesting photographic compositions, especially in the early morning light.

Stone Street

Stone Street, one of the oldest paved streets in New York, offers a charming, cobblestoned escape lined with historic buildings and bustling with lively bars and restaurants. This pedestrian-only street provides a quaint European vibe right in the heart of the financial district.

Address: Stone St, New York, NY 10004

Best Photo Tip: The best time for photography is during the evening when the street lights and lively atmosphere of diners and decorations create a warm, inviting scene. Capture the length of the street with a perspective shot to emphasize its cobblestone texture and vibrant activity.

The Oculus

The Oculus, designed by architect Santiago Calatrava, serves as a transportation hub and a shopping center, distinguished by its striking, futuristic white ribbed structure that resembles a dove in flight. The interior is as photogenic as the exterior, with its bright, expansive hallways and unique structural lines.

Address: Church St, New York, NY 10007

Best Photo Tip: Capture the sweeping curves of the building’s interior with a wide-angle lens. Early morning or late evening can provide a less crowded experience and dramatic natural light filtering through the skylight.

Battery Park

Located at the southern tip of Manhattan, Battery Park offers serene views of New York Harbor, the Statue of Liberty, and Ellis Island. It’s a perfect spot for sunset photos and capturing the play of light on water.

Address: New York, NY 10004

Best Photo Tip: Try capturing the silhouette of the Statue of Liberty at sunset from the waterfront or incorporate the sea of daffodils in spring for a pop of color in your foreground.

Nearby Attractions: Just steps away from Wall Street, you can visit Trinity Church with its historic cemetery, a quiet spot amidst the bustling city.

SoHo Photo Spots

SoHo, short for South of Houston Street, is a vibrant neighborhood known for its exquisite cast-iron buildings and cobblestone streets, blending historical architecture with contemporary culture. It’s a haven for fashion, art, and photography.

Cast-Iron Buildings on Greene Street

Greene Street in SoHo is lined with some of the most impressive cast-iron buildings in New York City. These architectural beauties date back to the late 19th century and are known for their ornate facades and large, loft-style windows.

Address: Greene Street, New York, NY 10012

Best Photo Tip: Photograph these buildings on a sunny day when the light beautifully highlights the intricate details of the ironwork. A mid-morning or late afternoon time frame is ideal to avoid harsh shadows.

Cobblestone Streets like Mercer Street

Mercer Street, among others in SoHo, features well-preserved cobblestone paving that adds a timeless charm to the trendy backdrop of modern boutiques and upscale cafes. These streets are perfect for fashion photography or capturing candid street scenes.

Address: Mercer Street, New York, NY 10012

Best Photo Tip: Try capturing low-angle shots that emphasize the cobblestones with the historic buildings rising in the background. Early morning or late afternoon provides softer light and fewer crowds.

Tribeca Photo Spots

Tribeca, an acronym for “Triangle Below Canal Street,” is known for its loft-style buildings, upscale dining, and a quiet, more laid-back vibe compared to other parts of Manhattan. It’s a popular location for film festivals and celebrity sightings, offering a mix of old New York charm and modern luxury.

Staple Street Skybridge

The Staple Street Skybridge is one of Tribeca’s most picturesque architectural features. This three-story high pedestrian bridge, connecting two historic buildings, offers a glimpse into the area’s industrial past. The cobblestone street and the surrounding cast-iron buildings create a photogenic urban scene.

Address: Staple Street, New York, NY 10013

Best Photo Tip: Aim to visit during the late afternoon when the sun casts long shadows and creates a dramatic light and shadow play on the bridge and street. A wide or ultra-wide lens is perfect for capturing the full scene.

Hudson River Park

Stretching along the western edge of Tribeca, Hudson River Park offers sprawling views of the Hudson River and New Jersey skyline. It’s ideal for sunset photography and long exposure shots of the water.

Address: Along the West Side Highway, New York, NY 10013

Best Photo Tip: Capture the sunset from one of the piers for a view of the river with boats and the glowing skyline. Experiment with long exposures to smooth the water and capture movement in the clouds.

Greenwich Village

Greenwich Village has long been a center for artists, thinkers, and musicians, and this creative energy is evident in its eclectic architecture, quaint cafes, and bustling street life. Its winding streets contrast sharply with the grid pattern found in most of Manhattan.

Washington Square Park

Washington Square Park is the heart of Greenwich Village, known for its iconic arch and central fountain. It’s a popular gathering spot for locals and tourists alike, filled with performers, students, and artists.

Address: 5 Ave, Waverly Pl., W. 4 St. and MacDougal St., New York, NY 10011

Best Photo Tip: Capture the vibrant life of the park from different angles, focusing on the arch as a backdrop. Early mornings or late afternoons offer softer light for photography, and visiting during university sessions can add a lively student presence to your shots.

The Winding Streets of the West Village

The West Village, part of the larger Greenwich Village, features some of Manhattan’s most winding and picturesque streets. Streets like Grove Street and Waverly Place are lined with historic townhouses and old trees, providing a quaint and tranquil atmosphere.

Address: Grove Street and Waverly Place, New York, NY 10014

Best Photo Tip: Use the charming doorways and unique facades of the townhouses as frames for your photos. The area is particularly beautiful in the fall when the changing leaves add a colorful accent to the brick and stone buildings.

DUMBO Photo Spots

DUMBO is a visually striking neighborhood, famous for its cobblestone streets, waterfront parks, and the imposing views of the Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges. Its waterfront position provides exceptional opportunities for photography against the backdrop of New York City’s skyline.

Brooklyn Bridge

As one of the oldest roadway bridges in the United States, the Brooklyn Bridge adds historical richness to any photo. Its distinctive Gothic arches and symmetrical cable patterns present an old-world charm contrasted with the modern cityscape. Throughout the bridge itself, you’ll find multiple angles and backgrounds to play around with.

Address: 63 Tillary St, Brooklyn, NY 11201, United States (Brooklyn side) or 55 Tillary St, Brooklyn, NY 11201, USA (Manhattan side)

Best Photo Tip: Come in the early morning to avoid the crowds, or arrive an hour before sunset for an amazing view of the city lights. Be careful when sitting on the edge if you want to replicate the photo above.

Time Out Market

Not many people know about the rooftop and its stunning view, but if you get to the roof of Time Out Market, you’ll find a terrace with tables and weathered walls, offering a view of the Brooklyn Bridge from an interesting, unusual angle that you won’t get from the nearby park.

Address: 55 Water St, Brooklyn, NY 11201

Best Photo Tip: The rooftop is an excellent spot for sunset photography, as the skyline lights up with the setting sun. It’s also a great location for night photography when the city lights are reflected in the waters of the East River.

Brooklyn Bridge Park Pier 1

Besides Dumbo Park, almost at the same location, there’s another spot – Brooklyn Bridge Park – that boasts an amazing skyline view with far fewer people around compared to most popular photo spots in NYC, including Jane’s Carousel. Here, you’ll see Downtown Manhattan as your backdrop, the Bridge itself, and a few ferries. The long promenade, a small park, and cute ice cream shops offer a variety of backgrounds for your photoshoot, all in one spot.

Address: 2 Furman St, Brooklyn, NY 11201

Best Photo Tip: Visit during golden hour for soft, warm lighting that enhances the cityscape. The park’s piers offer different perspectives and compositions, with Pier 1 providing one of the best views of the skyline.

Washington Street Viewpoint

One of the most photographed spots in New York City, the view from Washington Street perfectly frames the Manhattan Bridge with the Empire State Building peeking through its arch. Easily accessible from any point in Dumbo, you’ll recognize this corner building from my favorite TV show, “Gossip Girl.” And you won’t miss this street, given the number of people trying to get a picture there every single day.

Address: 39-21 Washington St, Brooklyn, NY 11201

Best Photo Tip: Early morning or late in the day are the best times to capture this iconic view to avoid crowds and catch the best light. The cobblestone foreground and brick buildings on either side add to the urban aesthetic, perfect for a dramatic shot.

Pebble Beach

It’s not as crowded as other places in NYC, so you can take your time and get your shots without a bunch of people around. The East River gives your photos a chill, watery feel that’s really unique in the city. You will also get a view of Manhattan’s skyline, Brooklyn Bridge, and the beach itself. It isn’t your usual sandy type; it’s got all these pebbles that look really neat in photos.

Address: 65 Plymouth St, Brooklyn, NY 11201

Central Park Photo Spots

Central Park, the most famous park in New York City, offers a tranquil retreat amidst the urban chaos. Its sprawling landscape is a mosaic of picturesque vistas, charming bridges, and lush greenery, perfect for diverse photographic themes.

Bethesda Terrace and Fountain

Bethesda Terrace’s iconic fountain overlooking the Lake is a central feature of Central Park, known for its intricate carvings and beautiful vistas. It is a popular gathering place and offers stunning views of the park and city skyline.

Address: Mid-Park at 72nd Street, New York, NY 10021

Best Photo Tip: Capture the symmetry of the terrace staircases and the angel statue atop the Bethesda Fountain. Early morning light or late afternoon golden hours are ideal for enhancing the natural beauty and architectural details.

The Bow Bridge

Bow Bridge, gracefully arching over The Lake, is one of Central Park’s most romantic and photographed spots. It offers picturesque views of the water and surrounding skyline, making it a perfect setting for portraits and scenic shots. 

Address: Mid-Park at 74th Street West, New York, NY 10023 

Best Photo Tip: Capture the bridge during early morning or late evening to avoid crowds and get soft, diffuse light. Reflections in The Lake can be used to create stunning symmetrical compositions.

The Mall and Literary Walk

The Mall, lined with towering American Elm trees, leads to the Literary Walk, famous for its statues of literary figures and its vibrant canopy of leaves. This straight path is a favorite for photographers looking to capture the essence of a New York autumn or spring.

Address: Mid-Park from 66th to 72nd Streets, New York, NY 10021

Best Photo Tip: Visit during the fall for a stunning display of golden foliage or in spring when the path is lined with blooming flowers. A long lens can help compress the scene, highlighting the rows of trees and the statues along the walk.

Bryant Park Photo Spots

Bryant Park, nestled amidst the towering skyscrapers of Midtown Manhattan, offers a serene and picturesque setting for photography. Known for its lush green lawns, elegant French-style carousel, and the stunning New York Public Library backdrop, the park is a popular spot for both leisurely and professional photo shoots. Its diverse landscape, from manicured gardens to open plazas, provides a variety of stunning scenes.

The Lawn: The Green Heart of Bryant Park

The Lawn at Bryant Park is a large, open green space surrounded by London plane trees that provide a soft, natural frame for photos. It’s a popular spot for picnics, sunbathing, and even outdoor yoga sessions, offering a lively yet peaceful setting in the center of Midtown.

Address: Between 40th and 42nd Streets & Fifth and Sixth Avenues, New York, NY 10018

Best Photo Tip: Capture the contrast between the calm, green space of the lawn and the bustling cityscape surrounding it. Early morning light is ideal for softer shots with fewer people, or visit during an event for dynamic, energetic photos.

The New York Public Library

The majestic New York Public Library, adjacent to Bryant Park, offers a grand and historical backdrop. Its Beaux-Arts architecture, with grand marble steps and impressive stone lions, creates a distinguished setting for both fashion shoots and architectural photography.

Address: 476 Fifth Avenue (on 42nd St and Fifth Ave), New York, NY 10018

Best Photo Tip: Photograph the library façade in the late afternoon when the setting sun illuminates the stone with a warm glow. The wide staircase and massive doors offer a majestic perspective of this historic building.

Long Island City Photo Spots

Long Island City (LIC), known for its stunning waterfront parks and striking views of the Manhattan skyline, is a treasure trove for photographers. This area blends industrial heritage with modern high-rises, offering diverse scenes from gritty urban landscapes to serene riverside vistas.

Gantry Plaza State Park

Gantry Plaza State Park provides breathtaking views of the Manhattan skyline, especially stunning during sunset. Its distinctive gantries, once used for loading and unloading rail car floats, now serve as unique industrial relics perfect for a dramatic backdrop.

Address: 4-09 47th Road, Long Island City, NY 11101

Best Photo Tip: Visit during sunset to capture the skyline illuminated by golden light with reflections on the river. The park’s piers and gantries offer unique foreground elements that add depth to any cityscape shot.

MoMA PS1: Contemporary Art in an Urban Setting

MoMA PS1, one of the oldest and largest nonprofit contemporary art institutions in the United States, is situated in a converted school building. Its exhibitions are cutting-edge, and the building itself, with its unique architectural adaptations, provides interesting photographic subjects. 

Address: 22-25 Jackson Ave, Long Island City, NY 11101 

Best Photo Tip: Capture the contrast between the old school façade and the modern art installations. Visiting during one of the outdoor events or exhibitions can also provide dynamic shots filled with people and art interactions.

Williamsburg Photo Spots

Williamsburg is a vibrant neighborhood known for its indie music scene, hipster culture, and street art. Its eclectic mix of old factories and modern apartments provides a rich urban canvas for photographers. The area is especially known for its spectacular waterfront views of Manhattan and striking murals.

Domino Park

Domino Park, a relatively new addition to Williamsburg, is built on the historic site of the former Domino Sugar Refinery. The park features a blend of preserved industrial artifacts and modern recreational facilities, offering stunning views of the Williamsburg Bridge and Manhattan skyline.

Address: 300 Kent Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11249

Best Photo Tip: Capture the contrast between the old refinery structures and the new developments along the waterfront. Sunset brings out the best colors in the sky and the reflective surfaces of the water, making it a prime time for photography.

Street Art on Bedford Avenue

Bedford Avenue is the main thoroughfare through Williamsburg, known for its colorful street art, eclectic shops, and vibrant street life. The ever-changing murals provide a dynamic backdrop for urban photography.

Address: Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11211

Best Photo Tip: Explore the street art early in the morning to avoid crowds and capture clear shots of the murals. Use a standard or wide-angle lens to encompass the scale of the art along with the urban environment.

Nearby Attractions: Beyond Domino Park and Bedford Avenue, the Williamsburg waterfront offers expansive views and is a great place for photography, especially during events like Smorgasburg, a large open-air food market that attracts a diverse crowd.

Upper East Side Photo Spots

The Upper East Side is one of the most affluent neighborhoods in New York City, offering a mix of stately architecture, prestigious museums, and quiet, tree-lined streets. It’s ideal for photographers interested in architectural beauty and cultural depth.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art (Exterior)

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, one of the largest and most prestigious art museums in the world, boasts a classic Beaux-Arts facade that overlooks Central Park. The steps of the Met are a popular gathering place and offer a regal viewpoint of the park and bustling Fifth Avenue.

Address: 1000 5th Ave, New York, NY 10028

Best Photo Tip: Capture the grandeur of the Met’s facade during the golden hour when the setting or rising sun highlights the intricate details of the building’s exterior. Including people sitting on the steps can add a lively and relatable element to your shots.

Guggenheim Museum

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum is not only notable for its impressive collection of modern and contemporary art but also for its unique, spiral architecture designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. The building itself is a photographer’s delight, both inside and out.

Address: 1071 5th Ave, New York, NY 10128

Best Photo Tip: Photograph the museum from across the street to capture its full circular structure set against the linear urban environment. For interior shots, the top of the spiral offers a compelling perspective of the building’s famous design.

Coney Island Photo Spots

Coney Island is a lively and iconic seaside spot that captures the essence of a nostalgic amusement park atmosphere juxtaposed with urban beach life. It’s a fantastic location for capturing both action-packed and serene beach scenes.

Coney Island Boardwalk

The Coney Island Boardwalk, officially known as the Riegelmann Boardwalk, stretches over 2.7 miles along the sandy beach. It’s lined with shops, eateries, and the famous amusement park rides, providing a vibrant backdrop for any photo.

Address: Boardwalk, Brooklyn, NY 11224

Best Photo Tip: Capture the lively atmosphere of the boardwalk during the summer months when it’s bustling with activity. Early morning or late afternoon provides the best light for photography, casting long shadows and offering a golden glow.

Luna Park

Luna Park is the heart of Coney Island’s amusement area, featuring classic rides like the Cyclone roller coaster and the Wonder Wheel. The colorful, lively scenes are perfect for capturing the joy and excitement of a traditional amusement park.

Address: 1000 Surf Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11224

Best Photo Tip: For dynamic action shots, photograph the rides in motion, using a slower shutter speed to blur movement and convey a sense of speed. Night photography can be particularly striking here with the park’s lights and neon signs.