Beyond the beaten path: Finding unique New York photography spots

 In Travel: Way Out of Chicago

New York is one of the photographic wonders of the world. There is the grand architecture, both new and old, street art and graffiti, a melting pot of people and an infectious energy on every street corner.

However, this can be both a blessing and a curse. While New York is one of the most photographed places in the world, it means it is that much harder to take unique photos of this great city.

So here are a few of my favorite places to explore when I want to see and photograph something different from the norm.

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1. Bushwick

Walking around Bushwick can feel like you are in a strange world, as if the city was a gallery itself. Thanks primarily to the Bushwick Collective, a group of world class street artists, much of the neighborhood structures have been turned into canvas. Buildings and industry here have legally given their walls to street artists, who now have the time to paint giant murals without worrying about being arrested. The walls are constantly morphing and changing, and you will be surprised with some of the places that have been painted.

Take the L-train to the Morgan Avenue stop and walk aimlessly with your camera. Here is a walking tour map of the area; eat at Roberta’s (pizza) while you are there.

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2. Columbus Park in Chinatown

Columbus Park is one of the true gems of the city. Located in Chinatown, this park is where much of the Chinese community comes to spend their leisure time, play Chinese chess, and gamble! Spend the afternoon here, have dumplings or dim sum in Chinatown and sit and watch them play Chinese versions of chess, blackjack and poker. There will be Musicians playing music on the benches, and you might even catch some karaoke.

Photography is allowed here, but some people are happy with it and some aren’t, so use your best judgement. Respectfully stand and watch them play and then politely take a shot or two, but pay attention to when people say no. It can be hit or miss.

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3. Greene Street, SoHo

Greene Street in SoHo is a five block long stretch with the greatest collection of cast-iron buildings in the New York. It is one of the great architecture blocks in all of the city. Dating back to the mid-1800s, these buildings continue to hold the grand character of when it was a manufacturing district, however they now hold high-end luxury stores of all types. I consider this neighborhood to be the largest shopping mall in the world.

Come here to photograph the buildings, fire escapes, stop in the shops and capture some fantastic street photography with some of the trendiest people in the city.

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4. Manhattan Bridge

Forget the Brooklyn Bridge, the Manhattan Bridge is where it’s at. Actually, don’t forget the Brooklyn Bridge, because that is awesome too, but photography from the Manhattan Bridge is even better, and it doesn’t come with the hundreds of selfie-stick swinging tourists. It’s usually just you and other New Yorkers.

Located parallel to the Brooklyn Bridge, you will have near birds-eye views of the streets below. You will see low old tenement buildings of all types, with the grand skyscrapers of the financial district behind them. See some amazing Graffiti, and stop at the halfway point to capture the most spectacular view of the Brooklyn Bridge in the city, all with no one else around.

Take the south end pedestrian path to get there and watch out for the occasional crazy bikers. You can walk halfway and back, or continue all the way over the bridge, and then walk to the waterfront to photograph the Manhattan skyline from Brooklyn.

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5. Coney Island

No trip to New York (in the warmer months) is truly complete without a trip to Coney Island. Take the N,Q,D or F train to the last stop and watch Brooklyn pass by through the elevated train windows. Get a Nathan’s hotdog or Totonno’s pizza, walk the boardwalk and beach, and shoot some incredible street photography. Even play some carnival games or go on a roller coaster (although be careful with your camera; good to have a friend hold it on the side).

Go to an afternoon or evening Brooklyn Cyclones baseball game, then continue photographing into the evening. When it’s nice, things don’t stop until late, so grab a drink on the boardwalk and enjoy the breeze and beautiful subway ride back!

Want to learn more from James? Sign up for the Out of New York Conference, October 14-15, 2016! James will be teaching street photography techniques as well as leading photowalks! Visit outofnewyork.com today for more information.

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