New York is the worlds most iconic city. Full of famous landmarks and that unmistakable skyline, it is every photographers dream to capture it through the lens. Despite it’s countless photo opportunities it can be tricky to get past all it’s iconic sites to capture something more unique. New York, is after all so much more than just a skyline. If you want to take some extra special photos of New York a bit of thought and preparation is required, especially if you are short on time. My last trip to New York was quite brief as I only had a few days there, which isn’t long given the city’s size I still managed to take an obscene amount of photo’s. With that in mind, here are my top New York Photography Tips.
Remember your composition rules
It isn’t just about pointing your camera at the Empire State Building and hoping for the best. To make your photo’s look more than just your standard tourist shot you need to really think about composition. Where about you want the focal point of your image to be and what else you want to include in the shot. I often try and introduce things into the foreground and the background to make my photos more interesting. This can be done by taking advantage of objects and people that are in shot. In my photo of the Brooklyn Bridge I have included some branches in the foreground and the skyline adds interest to the background. In other shots I have there is a passing boat that provides interest. Just take advantage of what you can!
Get the big icons out of the way first
No trip to New York would be complete without photographing the likes of the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty. They are icons for a reason and everyone should get a photo of them. However, these are the photo’s that everyone has and there are much more unique images to had elsewhere. Therefore, I would suggest getting these out of the way first to give you time to explore the rest of what the city has to offer. Also, remember to try and think outside the box about when photographing these famous sites!
Explore all your options
An example of this would be the Brooklyn Bridge, there are so many ways you can capture this beautiful bridge. You can get a classic shot from on the bridge but think about different perspectives you can shoot from and tray and focus in on some of the details. You can also go for a walk round Brooklyn and see what other views you can photograph it from. Oh, and don’t forget the other bridges nearby, the Manhattan bridge is just as worthy of your time!
Capture the architecture
I am not just talking about it’s most famous buildings. There is stunning architecture everywhere you go. Whether it be the fabulously Art Deco Chrysler building or something more modern, there are so many wonderful buildings asking to be photographed. Again, think about composition and how to make them look more interesting. An example of this is the above photo where I have photographed the shiny Chrysler Building but got part of the Grand Central Terminal building in the foreground, making a nice contrast and a more interesting image.
Focus on the details
As I have said before New York is not all about fancy buildings and famous statues. There are lot’s of other wonderful things that make this city so awesome. Take a walk and pick out some details, they can be large or small – the key is to just focus on one thing. It can be some street art, a shop window, or something as simple as these trains pictured above. There is always something interesting crying out to be photographed.
Get up early
New York is such a busy city so it pay’s to get up up early when it is much quieter. Not only will you get some photos of the streets without the crowds but, if you get up early enough you can catch a sunrise too. It is a win all round.
Try and catch as many sunsets and sunrises as you can
The light during and just after the sunset has risen and set is unbeatable. Although you will have to get up early, it is worth it. Try getting up to Top of The Rock for a gorgeous sunset shot of the Empire State Building, or shooting the skyline during the sunset. The buildings look even better when there are glowing in the golden light.
Don’t forget the people
New York city is full of fabulous and interesting people. From buskers to shoppers walking along the street, there is always someone interesting to photograph. Obviously you have to be discreet and in many cases it would be advisable to ask permission first, but on the whole New Yorkers are lovely folk, so don’t be scared.
Get some night shots
New York is famous for being the city that never sleeps and it definitely comes alive at night. As well as getting your classic night shots of the skyline, I would suggest heading somewhere like Times Square which is full of nightlife. Just don’t forget to take you tripod! Why not checkout my post NYC at Night for more inspiration.
Try a different perspective
This can involve thinking outside the box a little. This could be shooting from a different angle such as from above or below, there are many ways to make your subject matter look more interesting. I was taking a bunch of photos in Central Park and I was a little uninspired by most of them so I started taking photo’s of the reflections in the lake. Not the most original idea I know, but it is a different way of capturing some of New York’s architecture and in the right context can have a great effect.
Stay put for a while
I know I have been harping on about exploring as much as possible but sometimes it pays to stay in one place. Take a seat somewhere and just see what opportunities come your way. This is another great way to capture interesting shots of people. This is what I did with the black and white shot of the Music Hall. I just sat with a cup of coffee and waited for a while, taking a few photo’s here and there. This photo isn’t going to win any prizes but I still feel it captures a certain something about New York so I like it.
I hope you found these tips for photographing New York helpful and don’t forget to check out my other photography trips and New York posts. Let me know below if you have anymore tips for photographing New York!