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The Photography Guy, Professional Photographer

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Chris Johnson, TPG Editor

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There aren’t really any hard and fast rules when it comes to New York travel photography.

However, we just wanted to share some of our ideas with you to ensure you make the most of your trip.

The Smart team travelled to New York City in April for a business trip and some sightseeing.

I’ve used some of the photos we took to demonstrate some of our top travel photography tips.

If you want to improve your overall photography skill then why not sign up to our online photography classes.

New York Travel Photography Image

Travel Photography: 10 Tips for New York Travel Photography

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New York Travel Photography

Below is a list of 10 ideas on ways to improve your New York travel photography.

Like we said earlier these aren’t rules to stick to and we encourage you to find your own path.

However, we hope the ideas and tips that we have listed inspire you to approach the streets of New York with an open mind and most of all to capture stunning images.

1. Let People Get in The Way

Street Photo

Try this for your New York travel photography

New York is a hustling and bustling city, home to over 8 million people.

Inevitably it is difficult to find spots where there aren’t people.

However, our idea is that you should embrace the people that fill the streets.

Take the photograph above for example.

I was drawn to this cool looking bike. However a New Yorker had other ideas and just walked right in front of me. Instead of cursing the New Yorker or moaning I pressed the shutter button.

The result for me is an engaging and lively photograph that depicts the busy lifestyle of New York.

Within two seconds he had walked past and then I also grabbed the photo I had originally intended on.

Which photo do you prefer?



Bike on the Street in Soho.

Obviously there are times when you don’t want people in your  travel photos.

However, New York is very fast moving. Within a few seconds another opportunity will present itself.

Just wait in a spot and let the magic unfold.


Two men have a drink outside a deli create movement in your New York travel photography

2. Create a Game


New York travel photography inside World Trade Center PATH Station

It is unlikely that you will be feeling un-inspired in The Big Apple.

On the other hand though you might want to just have a bit of fun with your New York travel photography.

Creating a game/treasure hunt is especially useful if you have young minds to occupy.

In this instance I decided to photograph the American flag each time I saw it.

This is a great way to keep your creativity alive.

The American flag is all over the place in New York and it was really fun to see what compositions I could create each time I saw it.

This could work almost anywhere and the subject doesn’t have to be a flag.

Your goal could be to photograph the number 7 each time you see it. Or to photograph something that begins with each letter of the alphabet.

These sorts of ideas will give your travel photography a real focus and help you capture a different perspective to the average tourist.

Additionally you should have a variance of shots even though the subject matter of each photo might be exactly the same.


American Flag on Silver Truck

3. Shoot from Above


New York travel photography from Above

Elevating yourself from street level is a must for New York travel photography.

Not only can you photograph lots of different things from this vantage point but when you look back on your images you can point out all the best spots you have visited.

I would recommend going to the Top of The Rock for an excellent vantage point of New York.

You will also have a great view of the Empire State Building and Central Park.

A head for heights is definitely required as it can be a little disorientating at first.


New York travel photography at Golden Hour

It is also useful to have a variance of lenses or a zoom lens so that you can capture different sorts of landscapes.

In my opinion I would get up there an hour before sunset and also wait until it goes dark.

Waiting it out will arguably give the best chance of excellent light for your photographs.

It was April when I travelled to New York and it can get pretty cold up there. As a result take a hat and some gloves and bide your time for the perfect shot.


New York travel photography taken from the Rockefeller Center

4. Make Art from Art


Photograph street art with your New York Travel Photography

It is a good idea to go beyond the typical tourist spots and capture the urban landscape in all its glory.

Street Art is all over the place and it really adds a sense of time and place to your New York travel photography reflecting current political issues.

Huge walls are adorned with graffiti and the colourful artwork makes for some fantastic photographs.


Donald Trump Street Art

5. Use the Light


New York travel photography of a yellow cab

The light in New York City is very different.

If it’s really sunny there will be very bright spots married with really harsh shadows.

Strangely enough these qualities can make some really dynamic and interesting photos.

The tall buildings cast great shadow which make pockets of light available for you to exploit.

Take the image of the yellow cab above as an example.

I set the shot up exposing for the highlights and simply waited for the taxi to drive through the light.

The result is an image that instantly draws the viewer to the main focus of the image.

Equally in the image below the harsh light casts almost a spotlight on this New Yorker.

The lighting makes it a bit more difficult to balance your photos vs shooting on an overcast day.

But the results can be great!


New York travel photography of a businessman

Something to consider:

Like this blog post? Smart is the world’s leading online photography course offering in-depth training, mentoring and classes to creatives of any skill level.

If you want to improve your photography then be sure to sign up to Smart today!

6. Hitch a Ride


View of Manhattan from Staten Island Ferry a great tip for New York travel photograpahy

The Staten Island Ferry is one of the FREE things you can do in New York.

This is arguably one of our top tips for New York travel photography as it costs nothing.

It takes about 25 minutes to complete the journey to Staten Island. The service usually runs every 30 minutes of the day and night.


The Free Staten Island Ferry

The ferry takes you past The Statue of Liberty and gives you a great view of Lower Manhattan.

Take a zoom lens with you so that you can capture different types of photos.

Be sure to move about the ferry in order to get the best vantage points.


New York travel photography from the ferry of The Statue of Liberty

7. Be a Night Owl


Night Shot from Dumbo in Brooklyn

The city that never sleeps can often look at its best at night time.

This  New York travel photography tip is all about getting out with your camera after sun down.

One of the general problems with night time photography is that you will need to stabilise your shot.

Yes of course you can set your camera down on a wall, ledge, the floor or even a park bench.

Strangely enough though these can sometimes be hard to come by in the exact location you want to take a photograph…

Instead of lugging around a giant tripod all day we recommend the Joby Gorillapod.

This highly versatile peace of kit means you can get creative after dark and capture some stunning night time shots.

Using a tripod at night means you can utilise a slow shutter speed allowing your camera to just soak up all those glorious city lights.

Ultimately this results in colourful imagery and can add movement to your photos.


New York travel photography at Night from Top of the Rock

8. Photograph Obscurities


Fire Hydrant

Get another take on your trip to New York.

Why not photograph things you aren’t used to seeing?

Standard street items to New Yorkers like trash cans, fire hydrants and fire/police calls boxes can make for interesting subjects if you aren’t used to these items in your home country.

These are the things that keep New York working.

On the other hand some of them are remnants of the past and hark back to a simpler time.

Non the less if these items intrigue you like they did me, photograph them to tell the complete story of your trip.


Police and Fire call box

9. Don’t be Shy and Get it Out!


New York travel photography on the Streets

Don’t be afraid of getting your camera out.

People in New York are too busy to be worried about you photographing them.

Street Photography is all about capturing people in their everyday lives.

It can seem a little odd at first to photograph complete strangers but you need to embrace any fears you have.

You will find the experience more positive than negative on the whole.

Look for interesting people to photograph or moments that are about to unfold.

Another tip is to shoot from the hip. Just walk down a busy street.

Set your aperture to f/8 and fire away.

With almost everything in the frame being in focus it is intriguing to see what you captured when you review your images.

Any block in New York is great for street photography so get it out and start shooting.


Street Scene


10. Take a Break



The most important travel photography tip is to enjoy yourself.

One of the best things to do is to take a break from the hustle and bustle of New York.

Sit down with a nice hot cup of joe and have a look at what you have captured.

Assess what has worked and what hasn’t been as successful. Then adjust from there.

People watch from a window in a cafe or a park bench.

Photography isn’t always about actually taking photos.

It’s about planning and observing and then putting what you have learned in to practice when you pick up your camera.

Further Reading

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