Whether you live in New York or just coming to visit, New York will most likely hold a special place in your heart and your engagement photos will be the perfect opportunity to capture it. We have been shooting engagement sessions in New York for over a decade, we have shot in countless locations, we know New York City like the back of our hands! There are a lot of factors involved when planning a great engagement shoot but the location is probably one of the most important ones. In NYC there are plenty of beautiful outdoor locations, however indoor locations are very limited since most places are privately owned and permits are required for professional photography. Anyway, here are some of my favorites:
Central Park is probably the most obvious place to do an engagement shoot in New York City. It has all of the elements you desire in a successful engagement shoot. Beautiful architectural elements that serve as stunning backgrounds and also opportunities to play with light and shadow. Plenty of foliage and natural elements, expansive fields, various trees and plants and a few different bodies of water that offer a serene and beautiful background to your engagement photos. My favorite place to shoot in Central Park is around Bethesda Fountain, you can capture the fountain, the lake, bethesda terrace, the mall and bow bridge and many other beautiful scenic shots along the way within an hour.
2. DUMBO Brooklyn
Dumbo (down under the Manhattan bridge overpass) Is an awesome location for an engagement shoot, unfortunately the news has gotten out and there are more people shooting there than ever before. I like this location because you have awesome views of the Manhattan skyline, cobblestone streets, St Ann’s warehouse has some beautiful brick arches, Jane’s carousel, The Brooklyn Bridge, pebble beach, Brooklyn Bridge park and plenty of cafes and cute spots for photos. Just don’t try to shoot at the River Cafe they will kick you out! I have been known to sneak a couple of quick shots in front of their beautiful garden before I got moved on.
We love shooting at Fort Tryon park in Washington Heights because of it’s proximity to the city, it’s beautifully maintained gardens and the many natural stone and architectural elements. The park was built on glacial striations from the last ice age, which explains why there are many clifs and hills and stone all around. The large arches where we often shoot is called the Billings Arcade (never knew that until I did a little research to create this list.) We have John D Rockerfeller to thank for creating this lovely park and gifting it to the city in 1931. A helpful tip – I always park my car at the new leaf restaurant (concession building) and walk into the park from there.
Grand Central Station is a great location for a winter engagement shoot. When it is just a little too cold outside, or if rain gets in the way of your plans. It is one of the only locations in NYC where you can shoot indoors without being hassled. I love Grand Central because of the scale of the building, it is so grand and decadent, it perfectly illustrates how a person might feel in the midst of New York City. The hustle and bustle of the commuters adds to the romance of this location, however I do recommend going when it is not peak travel time as it can get quite congested. A permit is required for professional shoots which can be obtained via their website.
The Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, commonly known as the Main Branch of the New York Public Library, is the flagship building in the New York Public Library system and a major landmark in New York City. The marble facade of the building contains ornate detailing, and the Fifth Avenue entrance is flanked by a pair of stone lions named “Patience” and “Virtue” that serve as the library’s icon. The interior of the building is also quite exquisite, however don’t plan to shoot there unless you want to rent the whole place out. They don’t offer photography permits unfortunately. Who needs one though when you have the gorgeous exterior and Bryant Park right there, plus you can grab a few street shots with yellow cabs wizzing by!
6. West Village
The West Village is a beautifully historic, trendy and artful area South of Chelsea and overlooking the Hudson river. It has many beautiful cobblestone streets, brownstones with different color doors, coffee shops where you might pop in for a quick coffee to warm up with your love. I especially love the West Village in the fall when the foliage adds to the already colorful vibe that the West Village is known for.
The Highline is also beautiful however it is quite windy and usually packed with tourists so I usually don’t spend the whole shoot there, however you can capture some really cool shots overlooking the busy city streets below like this one.
The East Village may not be as versitile as the West Village due to smaller streets and a more grungy vibe, don’t go there on garbage day! However I did find this gem, a playground covered in grafitti on 12th street and Ave B. I’m not sure of the legality of it to be quite honest but the gate was open so we went for it.
9. Gantry Park, Long Island City
Gantry Plaza State Park in Long Island City is an idyllic location for engagement photos, seamlessly blending urban charm with picturesque waterfront views. The park’s expansive green spaces, coupled with the iconic backdrop of the historic Pepsi sign, provide a unique and captivating setting for couples looking to capture their love story.
Central Park Conservatory Gardens is a stunning location for an engagement shoot. It is lower on my list again because you need a permit and it is not cheap (I think around $150). I am not a fan of permits for engagement shoots because if the weather is bad then you don’t have the flexibility to choose another day. It sits on 6 acres of land near the northeastern corner of Central Park, there are many beautiful floral archways, ponds, fountains, lawns and a few architectural elements. It is the only formal garden in Central Park.
11. The Met Museum