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Secret Spots for New York Photographers

New York city is an incredible playground for photographers but given how small and populated the island is (yes, Manhattan is an island), it’s rare to find a quiet spot to get tourist-less photos. I’ve got 5 secret spots in New York for photographers to check out

Popular Photo Spots in New York

There are lots of recommendations I could give you about places to take photos in New York, but no doubt they’ll be crawling with tourists wanting to get the next viral snap.

If you don’t mind battling the crowds and capturing the iconic views then make sure you hit up Times Square at night, World Trade One, DUMBO in Brooklyn and a trip up the Rockefeller building to shoot the amazing skyline at sunset.

But otherwise, if you’re looking for quieter, lesser-known spots for a great photo of this incredible city then check out my 5 secret spots for New York photography.

1. Rockefeller Park

On the west side of Manhattan just above North Cove harbour is Rockefeller Park. While the park itself is small and not particularly a hotspot of interest it does offer the most spectacular views of New Jersey.

You can line up your tripod and camera without any bother from passers-by to shoot panoramic photos of the New Jersey skyline.

Image: Rockefeller Park, NY

2. Staple Street Skybridge

One of my favourite secret spots in New York for photography is Staple Street, one of the shortest streets in the city, its redeeming feature is the way it has clung to the 1920’s architectural styling of the city and at the right angle you can make a photo look like you’ve taken it over 100 years ago without any modern-day interference.

The other interesting feature of the street is the skybridge which connects the buildings on either side. It was formerly the link between two parts of an NY hospital but has since been renovated into living accommodation.

Image: Staple Street
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3. The Chelsea Highline & W 14th Street

The Chelsea Highline is a converted overground subway line that when closed was made into a pedestrianised elevated walkway cutting through the luxury apartments of Chelsea on the west side of Manhattan.

The walkway goes for almost 1.5 miles but it’s the intersection where it crosses over W 14th Street is where my little secret spot for photographers is. The viewpoint looks down the long stretching road accentuated by the foliage on the edge of the highline. It means you can capture images of the natural and man-made world in a concrete jungle that is New York city!

Image: View from the Chelsea Highline

4. Lower 5th Avenue

5th Avenue is synonymous with high-brand shopping, with luxury stores and expensive property, but that’s in the upper half of the avenue closer to Central Park.

One of my secret spots for New York photographers is in the lower half of the avenue, closer to Washington Square Park. It’s a much quieter area where you can practise your street photography without much bother. The roads are still busy if you want to try out panning photos like we did, but there’s also enough passing locals to perfect your hardcore street photography in the style of Garry Winogrand.

Shooting from the hip is a style of photography that allows you to indiscriminately take photos when the camera is down at your side. It’s fun, like taking photos on film, not exactly knowing how the shot will turn out.

Put your camera into frame burst mode on a subject tracking mode at a fast shutter speed around 1/1000th to compensate for the constant motion of camera and subject. And of course – use the widest lens you’ve got!

5. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir

Central Park is a beautiful and vast void inside the city and the reservoir nearer the north end of the park gives great views across to the Upper East Side – an area formerly seen as poor in New York but has been rejuvenated to become luxurious, competing with the property on its opposite Upper West Side.

During our workshop we stood at the southwest corner of the JKO reservoir and shot across the water capturing the huge fountain set against the towering buildings occupying the background.

Find a spot to sit back from the railings around the lake and watch for the people passing by and meeting up. We saw lots of great characters coming to enjoy the secret spot while we were there.

Image: Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir

How to Avoid the Crowds and Tourists

With all these secret spots I think there is balance to careful planning and finding the right positions. I’m not saying these locations will be quiet throughout the day, you need to time it right. Go out at sunrise and shoot during the golden hour when people are rushing to work so you can avoid the ‘tourist hours’ (typically 10am – 6pm).

Look Out for our UK Photo Walks

These images of Downtown New York were part of our USA photography workshop. If you like the idea of joining us on a iPhotography photo walk or workshop keep an eye out on our dedicated booking page to find out when the next event is.

Photo walks are perfect for photographers of all experience levels. They give you the opportunity to meet new photographers, share tips, get help and better understand your camera and what makes great photos.

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