For Sam Horine (@samhorine), New York City is the ultimate photographer’s playground.
Sam has called the city home for the last 15 years, so he’s well attuned to the rhythm of the streets and the fact that the city’s only constant is change itself. That being said, there are still some fail-proof locations for beautiful — and iconic — shots of the city.
This area of Brooklyn directly across the East River from Manhattan is a special place that Sam has returned to time after time. Its cobblestones and old brick factory buildings evoke a feeling distinctly different from the rest of the city.
It’s a great place for photographers to shoot varying perspectives of the skyline because it offers such an expansive view of Manhattan. Sam notes that photographs taken here evoke a strong sense of place. Plus, he adds, it has some pretty neat bridges.
Sam loves this NYC classic. He encourages photographers not to miss out on the straight-on shot down the middle of the bridge, but also notes that you can navigate to the little islands on the Brooklyn side to capture some of the bridge’s traffic with the city in the background.
He suggests varying shooting styles: long or wide, as there are so many abstract architectural details that can be captured with a different lens.
Shooting from the Manhattan Bridge is always a good idea, Sam says, because it provides a unique and vibrant birds-eye perspective of the city. He loves that the bridge has pedestrian paths, which make it easy to position a camera through the gaps in the fence to get an unobstructed view of the city and water below.
Long exposure shots are always fun on this particular bridge, but the rattling of the trains will only permit a 5-10 second exposure, so timing is key if you want to capture the light trails of traffic whizzing by.
Sam explains that the photography students he’s taken to this downtown neighborhood have felt more empowered to be assertive and shoot in a way they hadn’t in the rest of New York.
Strolling the narrow streets of Chinatown and absorbing the sights, sounds, and smells, it feels as though you’ve been transported — and that departure from the classic sights of New York can be liberating for photographers.
THE TOP OF THE ROCK
Moving uptown, Sam notes that Top of the Rock is much better for photographs than its Empire State Building competitor. For one, you’ll be able to get the iconic spire of the Empire in your shot from 30 Rock.
Furthermore, the 360-degree perspective of the city is special — Sam loves that the view from Rockefeller Center allows you to capture Times Square, Central Park, and both the East and West side in a single shot.
THE OCULUS CENTER
This new minimalist hub is the epitome of cool, and Sam loves shooting its sleek lines and monotone color.
Inside or out, the Oculus offers photographers plenty of vantage points from which to snap an intriguing shot. This location is perfect for architecture buffs handy with a camera, or those looking for a challenge.
STATEN ISLAND FERRY
For those who want to incorporate photography into their daily commute, Sam recommends taking a trip on the Staten Island Ferry. The ferry is free — and the boat sells beer, he reminds me enthusiastically. You can ride it back and forth across the bay and snap some gorgeous shots of the skyline, the boat itself, or the ever-changing aquatic views.
THE HIGH LINE
Sam cites the High Line as the perfect place for a fresh perspective. This elevated and leafy mile-and-a-half-long park down the West Side is a vantage point that provides the perfect opportunity to shoot the streets below. Not to mention, the walk is lined with art and affords a spectacular opportunity to people watch.
THE ROOSEVELT ISLAND TRAM
Few people venture on this aerial tram that crosses the East River and provides access to the tiny Roosevelt Island, but Sam does, citing its unique views of the Queensboro Bridge and Freedom Park as absolutely worth the oft-forgotten ride.
THE WEST VILLAGE
Sam loves that the city’s structured grid goes haywire in the West Village and encourages aspiring photographers to take their cameras for a stroll in this particularly photogenic area of the city. He keeps an eye out for vanishing points, leading lines, and the unexpected, which, for him, make his photos visually appealing and help reveal tiny aspects that comprise New York City’s timeless and undeniable beauty.