The Manhattan skyline is a pretty iconic sight to see, with towering skyscrapers and iconic landmarks jutting up against the sky. It’s often been said that the skyline is a symbol of New York City’s strength, energy, and resilience. The skyline represents the city’s hustle and bustle, its creativity and ambition, and its endless possibilities. It’s no wonder that photographers and visitors alike flock to the city to capture its beauty and energy. With every angle and perspective, the skyline offers a new and exciting way to see the city. It’s no wonder that so many people google “NYC skyline photo locations” when hunting for those views!
I’m often asked where my favorite places are to take pictures featuring the Manhattan skyline. Whether it’s an engagement session, wedding portraits, a headshot, or a family session, where can we best see the skyline? is one of the top questions I’m asked every year.
Here are my favorite NYC skyline photo locations:
- Brooklyn Bridge Park – located in Brooklyn, this park offers breathtaking views of the Manhattan skyline from across the East River. The park boasts vibrant gardens, green spaces, and waterfront piers that make for the perfect backdrop for whatever type of photo session you want.
- The Top of the Rock Observation Deck – located in Midtown Manhattan, this iconic observation deck offers 360-degree views of New York City from its 70th-floor observation deck. Visitors can see iconic landmarks such as the Empire State Building, Central Park, and the Hudson River. The deck is located at the top of the Rockefeller Center, one of the city’s tallest buildings, making it a perfect spot to take in breathtaking views of the city skyline.
- Gantry Plaza State Park – located in Long Island City, this park offers stunning views of the Manhattan skyline across the East River. The park features plenty of green space, playgrounds, walking paths, and fishing piers as well as the iconic Pepsi sign.
- One World Trade Center Observatory – The One World Trade Center Observatory, also known as the Freedom Tower, offers stunning 360-degree panoramic views of New York City from its perch on the 100th to 102nd floors. Located in Lower Manhattan at the site of the former World Trade Center, the observatory provides visitors with sweeping views of the city skyline, including landmarks such as the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, and the Brooklyn Bridge. On a clear day, you can even see as far as 50 miles away. The observatory also features interactive exhibits and multimedia displays that offer insight into the history and culture of New York City.
- Brooklyn Heights Promenade – A scenic walkway located in Brooklyn Heights that offers breathtaking views of the Manhattan skyline across the East River. From the elevated walkway, visitors can enjoy panoramic views of iconic landmarks such as the Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty. The Promenade is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike to take in the stunning vistas and is a must-visit destination for anyone exploring the area. It’s a popular Instagram spot, so it can be super crowded, especially on beautiful summer days.
- Liberty State Park – located in Jersey City, this park offers a great vantage point for capturing the Manhattan skyline across the Hudson River. The park covers over 1,200 acres and offers stunning views of the New York City skyline, the Statue of Liberty, and Ellis Island. It is a popular destination for outdoor activities such as jogging, picnicking, and fishing, as well as for events and festivals. The park also features several historic landmarks, including the Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal and the Empty Sky 9/11 Memorial.
- Roosevelt Island – located in the East River between Manhattan and Queens, this small island offers a unique view of the skyline from a different perspective. Roosevelt Island was named after President Franklin D. Roosevelt and was originally called Blackwell’s Island until it was renamed in 1971. The island is only two miles long and has a population of around 12,000 people. It is accessible by the Roosevelt Island Tramway or by the subway. The island has several parks, including the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park, which features a memorial to the former president.
- Hudson River Park – located along the west side of Manhattan, this park offers stunning views of the skyline across the Hudson River. It spans 4.5 miles along the waterfront from Battery Park to 59th Street. The park offers beautiful views of the Hudson and the Manhattan skyline, as well as recreational opportunities such as biking, jogging, rollerblading, and fishing. There are also several piers along the park that provide great spots for picnics or simply enjoying the sunset. Hudson River Park is a popular location for outdoor events and festivals throughout the year.
- Hoboken Waterfront – located in Hoboken, NJ, this waterfront offers a picturesque view of the skyline across the Hudson River. The best view of Manhattan from Hoboken can be found at the waterfront on Sinatra Drive. From here, you can see the iconic Manhattan skyline with the Empire State Building, One World Trade Center, and the Chrysler Building in view. It’s a popular spot for both tourists and locals for a good reason: it’s gorgeous.
- Exchange Place – located in Jersey City, this spot offers a unique angle of the skyline across the Hudson River.
- Central Park – located in the heart of Manhattan, the park offers a beautiful contrast to the skyline with its lush greenery and architecture.
- The Vessel at HudsonYards – located in the new Hudson Yards development, this futuristic structure offers a unique perspective of the skyline. (Photo permission here comes and goes, so it’s best to check before booking our session there!)
- The Williamsburg Bridge – located in Brooklyn, the bridge offers a great vantage point for capturing the skyline from the East River.
- Battery Park – Battery Park is located at the southern tip of Manhattan and offers a stunning view of the New York City skyline across the harbor. Visitors can see the iconic skyscrapers including the One World Trade Center, the Empire State Building, and the Chrysler Building. The view is especially beautiful during sunset when the skyline lights up. It is also a popular spot for taking photos with the Statue of Liberty in the background.
- 34th Street Ferry Terminal – Also known as the Midtown Ferry Terminal, this Terminal offers a stunning view of the Manhattan skyline from the Hudson River. From the terminal’s outdoor plaza, visitors can enjoy panoramic views of the city, including iconic landmarks such as the Empire State Building and the One World Trade Center. The location is also popular for its accessibility to multiple ferry routes, providing a unique perspective of the city from the water.
- Empire State Building – located in Midtown Manhattan, the iconic building offers a stunning view of the city and skyline from its observation deck.
- The High Line – located in the Meatpacking District, the elevated walking park offers a unique perspective of the skyline and cityscape. Along the way, there are many spots where you can catch a glimpse of the city skyline. One of the best spots is the 26th Street Viewing Spur, which offers a clear view of the Empire State Building. Another great spot is the Chelsea Market Passage, which offers views of the Hudson River and downtown Manhattan. The Gansevoort Plaza also offers great views of the skyline, especially at sunset.
- Astoria Park – located in Queens, this park offers a picturesque view of the skyline across the East River. From the park, visitors can see famous landmarks such as the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building. The park’s location at the northern tip of Queens makes it a great spot to take in views of the Upper East Side and Midtown Manhattan. The park also features walking paths and green space.
- Brooklyn Grange Rooftop Farm – located in Brooklyn, this rooftop farm offers a unique perspective of the skyline and cityscape.
- The Brooklyn Barge – located in Brooklyn, this waterfront bar and restaurant offers a stunning view of the skyline across the East River.
- Williamsburg Waterfront – located in Brooklyn, this waterfront offers a picturesque view of the skyline across the East River. The East River and the Brooklyn Bridge are both prominently featured in the skyline, with the Empire State Building and One World Trade Center towering in the background. There are several spots along the waterfront, such as the Domino Sugar Factory, Grand Ferry Park, and the North 5th Street Pier, that provide excellent photo opportunities of the skyline.
- Brooklyn Bridge – located in Brooklyn, the bridge offers a classic and iconic view of the skyline from the East River.
- DUMBO – located in Brooklyn, this neighborhood offers a unique perspective of the skyline from across the East River. One of the most popular locations is the Washington Street view, which captures the iconic Manhattan Bridge with the skyline in the background. Other great spots include Brooklyn Bridge Park, Pebble Beach, and the Empire Fulton Ferry Park.
- World Financial Center – located in Lower Manhattan, this complex offers a stunning view of the skyline across New York Harbor.
- LIC Landing – located in Long Island City, this waterfront park offers a beautiful view of the skyline across the East River. The park features a large wooden pier that extends into the East River, providing unobstructed views of the city skyline. The pier also includes a rooftop deck that offers panoramic views of the skyline and the river.
What to consider before booking your NYC skyline photoshoot
Before booking a photo shoot with the NYC skyline as your backdrop, there are a few important factors to consider.
First, weather can play a big role in the success of your shoot. Rainy or overcast days can create a moody atmosphere, but if it’s too cloudy, the skyline might not be visible at all. For this reason, we might need to reschedule your session to a sunnier day if seeing the skyline is really important to you.
The time of year is also crucial to consider – in the winter, the sun sets earlier, so you’ll need to plan your shoot accordingly. Planning a photo shoot an hour before sunset is a great idea for a few reasons.
First, the lighting during this time is known as the golden hour, and it’s a photographer’s dream. The sun’s angle during this time creates a warm, golden glow that can make any photo look stunning. Additionally, during this time, shadows are longer and more dramatic, which can add depth and interest to your photos.
The colors are also more saturated during this time, making your photos more vibrant and beautiful. It’s important to note that the hour before sunset is a short window, so it’s essential to plan and make the most of your time. Be sure to plan your travel route, aim to get there early, and understand that getting anywhere in New York can take way longer than you anticipate!
Lighting is another important factor. Midday sun can create harsh shadows and unflattering light, so it’s best to schedule your shoot for the early morning or the aforementioned hour before sunset when the light is softer. Keep in mind that during the summer months, the sun sets much later, so you may need to plan your shoot for later in the day to capture the perfect golden hour light.
Finally, you’ll want to think about crowds. Iconic locations like the Brooklyn Bridge and the High Line can be incredibly busy, especially during peak tourist season. If you’re looking for a quieter spot, consider lesser-known locations like Gantry Plaza State Park or the LIC Landing.
As a professional photographer, I always recommend that my clients scope out potential locations beforehand to get a sense of the lighting and crowds at different times of the day. I also want to make sure you truly love your session location. I can offer up suggestions all day long and tell you what I think is gorgeous, but it’s most important that you love your location!
If you have any additional questions about booking an NYC skyline shoot don’t hesitate to contact me!