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Photography 101: Five Tips For Taking Incredible Mobile Photos in New York City

I'm a New Yorker. I've loved it all my life. Now, while I am not a professional photographer, I am a smartphone snapper. In this regard, here are some tips for taking excellent mobile photos of the greatest city in the world.

Empire State Building


Welcome to New York City. Got your phone? Alright, let's snap."

1. Shoot the Icons


Shoot the icons. New York City is a city full of architectural icons. The World Trade Center. The Chrysler Building. The Statue of Liberty. The Empire State Building. New York City is full of larger than life buildings which represent the spirit of the city. When roaming around NYC, shoot the icons. More importantly understand how to shoot them, namely, understand the icons of the NYC skyline are massive.

Due to their size, incorporate height and scale into your photos. No one wants to see half of the Empire State Building or a single foot of Lady Liberty.

Tip One: Shoot the icons with size in mind.


NYC Subway


2. Shoot the Speed


Famously, New York City moves, fast. The city is famous for people with places to go, cabs playing Frogger with pedestrian traffic and express Subway lines which can take you from Harlem to Wall Street in 20 minutes. Due to this, when here, shoot the speed.

While a lot of your shots are intentionally set up for clarity, don't bother with that while roaming the streets. The pace of life in the city is fast. Let your mobile photos highlight that pace by shooting rocketing cabbies or hurdling subway cars.

Tip Two: Find the speed. Shoot the speed.


NYC Personality


3. Shoot the Personality


If New York City has anything in spades, it is personality. Everything about the city pulses with distinction. The architecture is inspiring, the smells can be musty, the people simply don't care and the bar owners enjoy a good joke.

When you come to NYC, shoot the personality. Instead of roaming around the city all day looking for the best Central Park bench to shoot from, head down to Little Italy or the Village, take a seat on a street bench and just watch the world pass you do. I guarantee in fifteen minutes you will see a larger swath of life than you have ever seen before.

Tip Three: Sit down. Enjoy. Shoot the personalities.


NYC Grit

4. Shoot the Grit


"You're a New Yorker, that won't ever change. You got New York in your bones. Spend the rest of your life out west but you're still a New Yorker." Part of the pull of the city is grit. People from elsewhere call is trash or they say it smells. People from New York City embrace it as identity. Part of the pull is the metal, the stone, the never ending pavement and the smells.

When you come here, don't shy away from the true appeal of the city. Sure, if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere, but if you never embrace the element which makes the city, the city, you've missed the ball.

Tip Four: Shoot the grit, the grime and the rust.


Wo Hop


5. Keep Something For Yourself


Every traveler knows this, the best food in any given location is the place the locals swear by yet never talk about. When you come to NYC and you find one of those locations, take a photo but keep it for yourself. Call it a keepsake, a memento or a little gift only you know but whatever you call it, keep something to yourself.

Point in case, Wo Hop. It is, without question, my favorite restaurant in the world. It's a little hole in the wall serving the best authentic Chinese food you will have anywhere outside of mainland China. I love this place and truth be told, I shouldn't have shared it with you.

Tip Five: Please don't tell everyone.


Shoot the Icons. Shoot the Speed. Shoot the Personality. Shoot the Grit. Keep It To Yourself. Pretty simple rules to making your NYC smartphone photography that much better. And oh, shoot the subways. Always, always, always shoot the subways.


Wo Hop


Remember, if you like this content and want to chat about it, you can reach me at the following social spaces:

  1. Twitter: @bleibowi
  2. Linkedin: Brad Yale
  3. Google +: Brad Yale
  4. Instagram: Mr. Brad Yale