I get so many questions about photo locations in New York, as well as my process of taking photos for “the gram” in New York City. I have a pretty simple process where I attack one neighborhood or area at a time in one day. Since I have this process I had the idea of putting out photo guides for each neighborhood I shoot in since I get so many questions in general about locations, so here we go!
Dumbo, Down under the Manhattan Bridge overpass. One of my absolute favorite neighborhoods to shoot in. It’s also the first neighborhood I ever took pics when I first came to NYC. You can read all about the experience here! Since then I have taken photos numerous times for various reasons. One thing I love about the Dumbo area is the variety of content and iconic shots you can get in one shoot from the bridges, to the waterline with skyline of Manhattan, to grassy areas, and even some fun walls and architecture.
This is one of the most iconic New York City Instagram locations of all time. If you come here in the middle of the day on a weekend the streets will be packed full the tourists trying to get “the shot.” I’ve seen as many as 5 groups of people per block trying to get it. Plus on top of that, you have traffic weaving in and out of the people since Washington street is an actual functioning road. My recommendation is to get here as early as possible whether it is a weekday or weekend. I always try and get here by 8am at the latest, but ideal shooting time is between 6-7am. I know it sounds crazy but if you want the shot without having the pain of shooting with a ton of cars and other people it is so worth getting up early.
Just a block down from Washington Street is the Empire Stores location. The building is a very old shipping building that was converted into a mall of sorts, there are a couple of stores, coffee shops, offices, and the newest addition is the Time Out Food Hall, which features a bunch of different cuisine and iconic New York foods all in one place. They also have a public restroom which I can always rely on to use to change my outfit.
The exterior of Empire Stores near West Elm is a great spot for headshot/ portrait images. The background is pretty neutral and you can also get a great shot of the Manhattan Bridge in the background if that’s what you’re looking for.
If you’re looking for a real view, the top of Empire Stores is where it’s at. You can get an incredible view on the fourth-floor outdoor area of the skyline and both bridges. Perfect for pictures with bridges in the background. Also, they have some nice benches that I have definitely lied down on before and just enjoyed the view. On the walk up to this floor, there are many cool archways and architectural elements to frame a cool Instagram picture in.
Some may say this doesn’t count as Dumbo but I am just going to add this in since the Brooklyn entrance to the bridge is in Dumbo. The entrance to the pedestrian walkway is on the corner of Prospect and Washington. The tricky thing with the Brooklyn Bridge is that it is almost always busy. Not just busy with tourists but busy with bikers and runners getting their morning exercise. With that being said, it is still best to get there as early as possible if you want no one in your shot. 7-8 am is ideal if not earlier. Also, starting your walk Brooklyn side is sure to be much less crowded than Manhattan.
I personally love jumping up on the side for a more unique shot than just standing in the middle. Also posing with the cables and actual structure is unique and makes for a much more interesting shot. If you are just looking for a picture there really isn’t a reason to walk all the way across the bridge, especially if you have to shoot more looks in Dumbo.
New York has murals everywhere which I love. It’s one of my favorite things about the city, I especially love the fact that they are always changing. This particular mural is one of my favorites since it’s very colorful but also subtle at the same time. This spot is on Washington and York and the perfect. Spot for a summer Instagram pic.
Name something more dreamy than a carousel on Brooklyn Waterfront…I’ll wait. But seriously this Carousel is so pretty and perfect for Instagram. Is enclosed in glass which may not sound ideal, but the lighting it creates when you’re inside is pure magic. I’ve shot here twice and gotten two completely different shots so even though it is a carousel you can definitely get some creative shots.
Brooklyn Bridge Park
My last pick for Instagram spot in Dumbo is Brooklyn Bridge Park. Again, technically this isn’t Dumbo but I always like to walk around this area and get a shot when I am taking pictures in Dumbo. There are large grassy areas in front of the skyline that is perfect for that “picnic” shot you want to get. Also, a regular shot just on the water is also always great. I honestly never get sick of taking pics on the water with the skyline and Brooklyn Bridge in the background.
That’s it for now! Do you have any favorite spots in Dumbo that I missed? Let me know! I have a few other’s so I’ll have to make a second part in the near future.