New York City,  Travel,  USA

My Favorite NYC Photo Spots – According To Data

Before traveling to a new location I always do quite a bit of research to find popular photo spots as well as hidden gems. I usually start by looking through social media channels or sites like Unsplash. As a second step, I start looking for dedicated blog posts and articles. I really appreciate such posts, especially if the author includes a map with the exact locations of the spots. 

Therefore, I wanted to put together a photo location map for one of my favorite cities. Since there are hundreds of such posts available for such a popular destination as New York City, I wanted to choose a slightly different approach on how I create this map. Instead of just choosing my favorite places in New York City I wanna let the data decide. 

Each of my photos usually includes a GPS location within its metadata. So I’ve extracted the metadata of each photo from my NYC trips and prepared it for visualization. The result was a dataset containing around 9000 geolocations from the photos I took. In the following picture, you can see all of these 9000 points plotted onto a map. Each color is representing one of my four trips (2015, 2x 2017, 2018) to NYC.

This kind of raw point visualization is already looking pretty interesting. But to be honest, it is kind of overwhelming and does not help to find my favorite photo locations. 

For answering this question I need to find certain places where I have taken a lot of images. Therefore, I will cluster the points within a certain distance and render the resulting clusters on the map. 

In the following images, each circle is representing the location of the cluster, whereas the color is indicating how many images were taken within this cluster (blue => less: red=>more). So for my favorite spots we need to look out for big red circles.

With this type of visualization it is easy is to identify the areas where I have taken most of my photos. In the following I will briefly highlight my photo hotspots within these clusters. In the future I might release some more detailed posts about each of those locations.

#1 Times Square & Top of the Rock

Cluster #1 is representing the images I took around the Times Square area as well as from the Top of the Rock observation deck. You have to keep in mind, that a cluster will summarize photos in a certain vicinity. Therefore, each cluster is representing one or more photo spots. This gets very obvious when zooming into this area. The following picture will show the cluster as well as all individual photos (green points)

Times Square
Rockefeller Center - Top of the Rock

#2 Brooklyn Bridge & Dumbo

Brooklyn Bridge

The next cluster is revealing my love for the Brooklyn Bridge as well as the area around Dumbo. I spent a huge portion of each trip within this area. There are so many photo options regardless day or night.


#3 34th Street

The photos within this cluster are a little scattered along the 34th and 33rd street. There wasn’t any particular sight I was taking photos of. In fact I was enjoying taking streetphotos in this area. Especially the crossings between 34th street and 5th / 6th Av. are super interesting. Depending on the date you are visiting, the sun may be shining through the street during sunset. Besides that, the Empire State Building is located here, but I never went to the observation deck.

These weird looking straight lines of images are actually shots from within the subway or from within buildings. It seems, that the GPS signal drifted here a little. Maybe it is worth filtering the data by GPS accuracy the next time.

#4 Grand Central Terminal

Inside Grand Central Terminal

The Grand Central Terminal is kind of a paradise for photographers. There is so much going on within the station as well as outside of it. On the map, it doesn’t seem like a lot of pictures were taken directly within the station. This has two reasons, most pictures are either drifting around the building due to the GPS inaccuracy. (And sometimes due to me telling the picture where it was taken ;-))

Grand Central Terminal from Park Av.

#5 4th of July Firework

The photos within this cluster were all taken on the FDR drive during the 4th of July fireworks. I took a lot of photos here before and of course during the fireworks. Usually this is a busy street and not a photo spot ;-).

#6 China Town & Little Italy

On each trip to NYC I spent at least one day strolling around China Town and Little Italy. I am fascinated by all these little shops and restaurants. Espacially for streetphotos these areas are golden! On my last trip, even our hotel was located here 🙂

Little Italy
Strolling through China Town pretty early in the morning

#7 World Trade Center

There is so much to do within the World Trade Center area. You can e.g. visit the 9/11 Memorial, One World Trade Center Observation Deck or the Oculus.

The Oculus
The Oculus & One World Trade Center


Although the results weren’t a complete surprise for me, I had a lot of fun visualizing and exploring my datasets. I think this is a really nice way to review past trips and exploring some of the shots taken. 

If you are already geotagging your images, you can do a similar analysis directly in Adobe Lightroom (Classic) by using the Map module. If you don’t tag your images, you definitely should! Stay tuned for an upcoming post on how to do that.

In the future, I will definitely create some more detailed posts about certain spots in New York City.

I hope you like this post! Stay creative, everyone!