The great thing about New York (in terms of photography) is there’s no shortage of scenery!
The eye candy is abundant and your followers are hungry!!
But where can you be without buildings blocking your light and massive crowds potentially photo-bombing thus ruining your clean aesthetic…?
I’ve compiled a list of the best neighborhoods and locations to get those “Instagram-worthy” pics in New York + provided some tips on what else you can do in that area. Because if you’re going to get a pic somewhere, you better get the experience too, right?
1. Washington Mews
Known as Washington Mews, this picturesque, gated street located between 5th Ave. and Washington Square Park has open access. If you’re walking from Union Square to Washington Square Park (and stopping at Amorino for flower-shaped gelato!! Major yum)–you might miss this little street. I stumbled upon it one day because my sister is a student at NYU, and Washington Mews houses the school’s foreign language buildings.
(Each of which looks different and perfect and lines a cobblestone street! Score!)
This location is extremely convenient! It’s in the heart of student life (think restaurants and coffee shops) but tucked away enough for it to not to have heavy traffic. And by traffic I mean both people and actual cars. (It’s gated, remember?)
I’ve taken photos here a few times. There may be someone else there with the same idea as you–but there are plenty of backdrops to go around! So, take a pic in front of a different door until they’re done 🙂
So, from my experience, Washington Mews is good for pics at just about any point in the day. Good luck! After you’re done there–give Washington Square Park a try!
Another beautiful location (it has the big Washington Square Arch) beware: this area is TEEMING with life! Students, musicians, park goers, protestors, fountain gatherers–your best bet at getting clear pics at the park is early morning.
(Extra: Washington Mews is just a few streets north of Washington Square Park. And Washington Square Park is extremely close to the Stumptown Coffee Roasters on 8th St. which has outside seating. And on 8th St. is my favorite stationary store: Goods For The Study. Okay that about does it.)
Okay–this is the broadest location I’m going to give you.
SoHo (in general) is fantastic for taking photos with backgrounds that scream, “urban!”
A lot of the photos on my Instagram feed are in SoHo because 1- I used to work off of Thompson and Broome and 2- the neighborhood is poppin. In other words, SoHo makes it easy because everything is cute and it’s a popular place to meet for: brunch, lunch, dinner, cocktails, shopping, coffee–you get the picture. And hopefully–the picture 😉
Do NOT get overwhelmed over on Canal St. or Broadway.
Walk a little–check out the side streets.
I recommend starting at Broadway-Lafayette (big subway station near the likes of Zara, TopShop, etc.) and exploring the areas around Prince and Broome.
(Walk far enough down Broome and you’ll be in NOLITA–where you can stop into Greecologies, they have a big outdoor patio in the back, or go next door, to the pink shop you can’t miss, Cha Cha Matcha.)
A lot of the streets in SoHo are cobblestone and feature colorful buildings with climbing fire escapes. You’ll often see people sitting down for a pic before scrambling to get out of the way of oncoming traffic.
Like me and one of the friends I most admire, @michellekhxn with photog, @timgrasint:
As long as I’m skipping off to side streets, I’ve had great luck in SoHo–at all times of the day. You will find streets with light traffic! I’ve seen people standing in the middle of the road with their phone on a tripod, utilizing their self-timers.
(Extra: Black Tap Craft Burgers–the place with the crazy, decked-out shakes?–is located at 529 Broome. This place is worth the hype! Be ready to spend some money, but know that you’re going to get great food (hope it’s cheat day hehe) and you’ll remember the presentation forever. The employees are always really nice. Things to be wary about time-wise: if you’re coming at peak times, there WILL be a line out the door. If you want to get pictures of the shakes, I recommend coming during daylight hours because the lighting inside is dark.)
3. Doyers St. Chinatown
You’ve explored SoHo and NOLITA–why not hop on over to Chinatown?
For picturessake, don’t go in that order.
If you’re going to take pictures in Chinatown–start there first.
Chinatown is always busy.
But, like SoHo, Chinatown is the New York City vibes you’re probably looking for.
Particularly Doyers St. aka–*cue scary music* MURDER ALLEY!!!
Yes, I’m serious.
It’s not Murder Alley anymore–in fact, a lot of people don’t know the street’s historical significance! Which, I guess, without an interest in old Chinese gang wars, or an Uber driver that conveniently tells you about them as he’s dropping you off (that’s how I found out), I could see why you wouldn’t know.
Long story short, the street that houses the iconic Nom Wha Tea Parlor (go there for dim sum!! …the best since 1920. When it was feeding Chinese GANGSTERS) is now (for our purposes) safe and great for pics at 7:30 in the morning.
That’s right, folks–7:30! I took pics here with blogger/friend, @mimiandchichi and photographer, @laurelcreative from 8 to 9am and it was perfect. Just a few passerby. And while we were wiping the sleep out of our eyes–we get a coffee + small bite from The Good Sort (home of the original rainbow latte!)
The Good Sort is so incredibly cute, it hurts.
Doyers St. is an alleyway that winds around, making it an interesting backdrop with pops of yellow, blue, and red. If you’re working with a camera that can achieve good depth of field, I think you’ll be happy with what you can get from Murder Alley and its adjacent streets.
4. Jane’s Carousel, DUMBO
Okay, as a Brooklyn girl, this location is my favorite. When you’re visiting, time flies–so maybe you want to stick to Manhattan. But–shame on you! Come to Brooklyn! Come to DUMBO!
Short for: Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass, DUMBO does not disappoint. Just one of Brooklyn’s beautiful neighborhoods, DUMBO offers my favorite view of the Manhattan skyline. And you can catch it right at the edge of the water, from Jane’s Carousel! This beautiful, classic carousel will make you feel as if you’ve been transported back in time–and for only $2!
2 bucks? What! This is unheard of.
I know I’m a grown adult and this is a horse-y ride, but still. A lot of places in NYC charge you to sit–so, I was just surprised the quaint carousel wasn’t exploiting its prime location and charm.
The carousel’s not all, folks!!
The shoreline is your playground!
I’m not saying you have to ride the carousel. (2 dollars!!!) The #views are enough to make this a must on your list of Things-To-Do while in NYC. Not only can you gawk at the Manhattan Bridge in all its steely-blue glory–you’ve got the Brooklyn Bridge to your left!
Also along the water are a few places for food and a West Elm. Walk away from the carousel, toward the Manhattan Bridge (this might take a while only because you’ll want to keep taking pictures, “here!” and “oh how about here!”) and you’ll eventually hit Jay St.
Here is where my last “extra” is: Brooklyn Roasting Co.
One of my favorite coffee shops–if you came here for pics, I highly recommend stopping in for a cup of joe. The place is beautiful! A large space with bountiful seating options, the vibes here are very… treehouse? Industrial treehouse?
And if the Portland transplant, Matchaful, keeps extending their pop-up time (fingers crossed!!) it might still be inside of Brooklyn Roasting Co. when you get there.
I got the Spicy Cacao drink from Matchaful so many times this winter. They’re a bit pricey, but I justify by saying it’s yummy and semi-healthy. Semi.
Alright! My 4 favorite spots with a few in-between! That’s a good start to your trip planning, right?
I hope this has helped you! With some more experience under my belt, I might have to make a sequel to this.
Know of great places to take pics in New York? Feel free to share in the comments below!
Ta-ta for now!