A little about the the NY Local Series… As so many of my couples are eloping from out of town, I often find myself fielding all sorts of questions from how to elope in NYC to what to do if it rains. So I’m hoping to answer some of these questions for you in this series.
(I also have updated an FAQ page, for any other questions you might have! In case you missed it, previous posts in this series can be found here.)
The Best Neighborhoods for Wedding Photos in NYC
One of the most common questions I get from elopement or wedding couples is where should we take photos?
If you’re from the city, I always love going to places that are special to you. The neighborhood where you live, a place you had a first date or that you often frequent. However, if you’re from out of town, as many eloping couples are, it can be more difficult to pick a place. There are so many variables and so much depends on you, your style, and what kind of feel you want your photos to have… classic brownstones, green park space, industrial urban, or funky street art. As a local New Yorker, once I get to know what you’re looking for, I’m happy to make suggestions for places to go.
Rather than chose a specific spot, one of my favorite things to do with couples is to just pick a neighborhood and wander. This city has so much character just on random street corners, it pays off to look beyond the typical tourist centers. Below are just a few of my favorite neighborhoods for photo taking. Once we talk about your interests, I’m happy to help find just the right spot to be best capture what you.
I absolutely love shooting in the village. This neighborhood has so much to offer from colorful cafes and storefronts, beautiful brownstones, to hidden cobblestone lanes. You have Washington Square Park and the Washington Mews right there. This is quintessential New York in my book. It also leads into the Meatpacking District and the High Line
, two other great spots for photos, or we can even head out to the Christopher Street Pier
for some great views of downtown Manhattan.
East Village & Lower East Side:
Are you looking for street art? Cool cafes? Hidden neighborhood gardens? The East Village and Lower East Side are your spot. This was Williamsburg before Brooklyn was cool. These neighborhoods have a bit of a grittier vibe then their West Village sister, and are a great place to explore for creative types. We can stop in a dive bar for a drink or head down one of the last remaining funky alleys in the city. We can also easily stroll into Chinatown or Little Italy from here for all kinds of colorful streets or head further east into Alphabet City for fun little gardens and more street art.
If you’re eloping at City Hall
, Tribeca is a great neighborhood to explore. I often take couples here before or after their ceremony at 141 Worth Street as it’s brief walk from the Clerk’s office. There are cobbled streets, some great architecture, even some cute little parks. If we have the time, it’s also possible to head a few extra blocks out to the riverfront in Battery Park City and Nelson A Rockefeller Park
I love shooting in Soho! This area can get busy, so earlier morning can be ideal. It’s super close to the Nolita and the Lower East Side affording a great mix of street art, cobbled streets, tenement style buildings, and lots of really cool iconic NYC architecture. It’s also a really quick trip from City Hall.
Chinatown and Little Italy:
Another great colorful set of streets to wander after a City Hall Elopement. Chinatown and Little Italy often have some great street art, fun storefronts, and streets that always bustling and full of bright colors. Chinatown is a quick walk from City Hall and from there it’s an easy trip into Little Italy and even the Lower East Side.
Upper East Side:
This is my home turf! I love shooting on the Upper East Side. We’ve got stately townhomes, brownstone blocks, adorable little neighborhood parks, and yes of course, Central Park is right there as well.
Upper West Side:
If you’re planning an elopement in Central Park, but would like to explore some neighborhood streets close by, the Upper West Side can be a great option. As an Upper East Sider, I might be biased towards the east for living, however the Upper West’s brownstone lined streets close to the park are perfect for a photo taking stroll after getting hitched the park. You also could head further west down into Riverside Park if you’d like a green alternative to Central Park.
I have many thoughts on Times Square. As a New Yorker, on a day to day basis, I want to avoid it as much as possible. However, I fully understand that for someone not from here, it’s on your bucket list of places to see. It’s New York in the movies in everyone’s mind. However, keep in mind, Times Square can be chaotic. It is loud and crowded, can be dirty and you will not have quiet intimate photos here. Tourists may ask to take photos with you. It can be great fun, but if you are a photo shy person, this is probably not your jam.
Madison Square Park
If you’re looking for a view of the iconic Flatiron Building or even the Empire State Building, Madison Square Park is a great spot to go. It’s a bustling green space, often has cool public art installations and has great views alongside. It’s also a quick walk to Gramercy Park, a lovely neighborhood to stroll, even if getting inside Gramercy Park itself is next to impossible.
One of the most popular neighborhoods for photos is directly next to one of the most unfrequented. I probably shoot in DUMBO at least once a week in busy season, and with good reason. It’s right next to Brooklyn Bridge Park, has lots of awesome street art and you can get some really cool views of the Manhattan Bridge down Washington Street. If we’re shooting here, there’s also a chance I might ask if you’d like to explore a bit further down to Vinegar Hill. This strangely quiet little hamlet makes for a really nice backdrop especially early in the morning. It’s only a couple streets, but I love the feel of the historic houses and storefronts, cobblestones and colorful doors covered in ivy.
Cobble Hill/Brooklyn Heights:
Beautiful classic brownstones? Little neighborhood parks? Old carriage houses? Check, check, check. Promenade
with views of Manhattan? Yep, all included. I used to live in Cobble Hill and it’s always been on of my favorite neighborhoods in the city. Cobble Hill is a bit further down then Brooklyn Heights, but both have a similar feel and are wonderful for a wander. If you’re looking for a classic brownstone Brooklyn neighborhood and then want to head out to the Brooklyn waterfront, this is where we should start.
Oh how I love Red Hook for photos! Fair warning, this slice of Brooklyn is a bit of a trek as it’s not really convenient to any subway lines. However, in my opinion, it’s well worth it. There is street art galore, a really cool pier with arched doorways, an old trolly car on the waterfront, funky bars and cafes, and all kinds of color. And, when you’re done? There are lobster rolls and the best key lime pie ever for everyone!
If you’re looking for a bit of a funkier hipster artist vibe, Williamsburg is the way to go. There are tons of great street murals for colorful backdrops, industrial buildings galore, and you’ve got your pick of riverfront views with Grand Ferry Park
, Bushwick Inlet Park
, or even Transmitter Park
a bit further down in Greenpoint (which also has loads of great photo opportunities). The brand new Domino Park
is also in Williamsburg and is a photo destination in itself with awesome views and really cool old sugar factory elements!
There are a few different areas of Bushwick, but if you’re looking for hipster Brooklyn to the max, off the L train is exactly where to look. It’s awesome for photo taking if you’d like a grittier industrial feel, colorful mural filled backdrops and cool bars and cafes. If we hop off the L at Jefferson Street, it’s perfect for a loop of the Bushwick Collective
, a number of blocks filled with seriously amazing street art.
If you’re hoping to get close to Prospect Park
(Brooklyn’s answer to Central Park) and combine that with loads of classic brownstones and cute storefronts, Park Slope is your jam. This family friendly neighborhood has beautiful streets that are what Brooklyn dreams are made of. It’s also right next to park, so we can combine city and green space in one!
Gantry Park/Long Island City
I admit that I am not as well versed in Queens as I am in other neighborhoods around town. However, there are lots of cool spots in this borough and if you’d like to explore, I’m always game for new places. One of the most popular spots in Queens for photos is Gantry Plaza State Park and Hunters Point Park South. These two parks are right next to each other on the waterfront, one is state park one is a city park. Both having stunning views of the midtown skyline and really fun boardwalk areas and the old school Pepsi-Cola sign. They are also not a far drive from the Foundry building that has some cool exteriors and some other cool more industrial blocks if you’d like a few different looks to your photos.
There are tons of fun spots in Astoria for photos. Waterfront views by the ferry dock, Socrates Sculpture Park, and even a street art area with tons of colorful murals! Astoria Park would also be a great spot right along the river.