The Tourist's Guide to Photographing NYC

The Empire State Building

New York City is perhaps the most photogenic city in the world, no matter what others may think. Many people come to New York for vacation time and love to go sight-seeing. Depending on who you ask, New Yorkers either love or hate tourists, especially when it comes to taking pictures. Generally though, we are very friendly. Here are some tips on how to not annoy us New Yorkers.

Photography Is Legal Anywhere In Public

That means that if you’re taking a picture of someone or something and someone tells you not to, just remember that you’re within your legal rights. A cop can also not take your card away from you or legally tell you to delete a photo. Just remember: public space = total freedom.

Don’t Stop In The Middle of Swarming New Yorkers to Take a Picture

Not only is this dangerous as you’re throwing off the flow of traffic, but it will also get lots of people annoyed at you for doing this. Lots of tourists I’ve seen in the city tend to just stop walking and make a total about face just to take a picture of something like the Empire State Building. That’s very annoying when I’m trying to get over to an important meeting or a show.

So please, do not do that.

Do Get Out of The Way


Continuing on what I mentioned above, if you just step to the side of the on-flowing traffic to take the photo, I won’t mind at all. Nor will other New Yorkers trying to beat the rush.

Do Visit These Places For Awesome Photo Opps

Pier 17

Chinatown used to be worth it, but now it really isn’t. Be sure to check out Little Italy on weekend nights, South St Seaport, the Top of Rockefeller Center, the Empire State Building, Times Square, Central Park, the High Line, Fort Tryon Park, the USS Intrepid and the West Side Promenade. Additionally, the World Financial Center and Ground Zero offer great photo opps.

Do Thoroughly Plan Out Your Trips

During the vacation season, New York City becomes very congested with people. Chances are that you’re going to use MTA’s services like the subway and buses. Have a map with you and plan the trip out thoroughly so that you’ll get there quickly, safely and without spending lots of money going back and forth on the lines. New York’s Subways offer lots of photo opportunities as well. It used to be illegal to take pictures down there but now it isn’t.

Do Remember That Our Government Re-Designed Times Square For You

Times Square HDR 12/28/08

In summer of 2009, Times Square got transformed into a “Pedestrian Mall.” Most New Yorkers don’t hang out in Times Square unless they’re taking advantage of the lounge chairs. This area was designed for tourists to come take pictures, spend money, and meet lots of crazy folks like the Naked Cowboy, SpongeBob Squarepants and others.

Do Keep in Mind That NYC is A Lot Safer Than You Think

Beat up dude

No, there is no chance that you end up looking like the guy above. He was in the giant Pillow Fight that happens once a year. It’s all makeup on him. New York City is one of the safest cities in the US because of high security, so you shouldn’t really have to worry about being robbed, etc.

However, do exercise caution and common sense. And trust your instincts.

Do Leave Photojournalists Alone to Do Their Work

Over the past couple of years, something that did annoy me and other journalists a bit was “regular folk” always distracting us while we’re trying to do our job. One or two questions is usually fine, but don’t try to get in the way of our shot or distract us when we’ve got so much competition around and we then need to rush the photos to our editors. It’s common courtesy, don’t disturb us at work.

Do Read Your Manual on How to Use Your Camera

Lots of tourists buy a new camera for the journey and don’t read their manuals. They also don’t know how to actually use their cameras or even to the fullest potential. You should really read your manual or carry it around.

For more help, you can check out how to extend your camera’s battery life and knowing the symbols on your camera.

Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.