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9 Spots You Need to Visit as a Photographer in New York City

The city that never sleeps is a photographer's dream
United Photo Industries' bright and inviting gallery space in Brooklyn–Cassi Segulin for ONWARD

Introduction

New York City has been an international hub for the arts for decades, enjoying a reputation as one of the world's great cultural capitals for creative types. Lucky for photographers, it's also full of both rich history and cutting-edge new work!

 

Whether it's your first time in town or your hundredth, there's always a new destination to see for photography. There are the obvious (still great) choices, like the photo collections at The Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the many galleries strewn across Manhattan. But to find the diamonds in the rough, so to speak, sometimes you need a little guidance.

 

So we decided to pick some of our favorite must-see destinations for photographers in town! From the Bronx to Brooklyn and Staten Island, these are a few of the many bright spots to be discovered.

Here is ONWARD's list of 9 must-see spots for any photographers traveling to New York City...

 

Want to explore NYC with your camera? Download our PDF Guide and Map here!

1. Yossi Milo Gallery

Installation view of Assaf Shaham’s Division of the Vision, Yossi Milo Gallery © Thomas Seely, Courtesy Yossi Milo Gallery, New York

Setting Trends in Photography, Not Following Them

Yossi Milo Gallery is located in the heart of Chelsea, one of the most famous arts districts in the world. The gallery distinguishes itself by hosting exhibitions that begin conversations about photography in alternative ways, sometimes incorporating video and other printed materials into their varied schedule.

Mr. Milo has an incredible knack for seeking out new or overlooked photographers who have incredible potential–and allowing their work to become an integral component in the ever-evolving landscape of contemporary photography both in New York and the world.
"Yossi Milo Gallery is probably the premier photography gallery in the nation, not just NYC."


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2. ICP Library

Visitors browse the expansive collection at the ICP Library © ICP and Bruce Katz

Incredible Photo Resource Hidden in Plain Sight

The International Center for Photography, established by the great Cornell Capa in 1974, has long been at the epicenter of both cutting-edge and historically indispensable photography. Though the old museum location in midtown in now closed, a brand new exhibition space and store is set to open in early 2016 downtown–but don't think that's all ICP has to offer.

Even repeat visitors may not have heard of the incredible photography and photobook library also operated by ICP! It's collection numbers at least 20,000 volumes and 2,000 files, making it all too easy to get lost in the stacks of both ubiquitous and hard-to-find titles.
“With open shelves, a large selection of periodicals, and a window that serves as an exhibition space, the Library is a photobook-lover’s destination.”


"Getting some serious wanderlust? Check out our destination trip for photographers to the Japanese countryside in 2016! "

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3. AIPAD Photo Fair/Photo Plus Expo/Photoville

Visitors peruse the exhibits at AIPAD 2015 © AIPAD and Julienne Schaer

The Largest Photographic Events in New York

In a city that never sleeps, there are certainly events happening throughout the year that would appeal to photographers. Photo Plus Expo, billed as the “the largest photography and imaging show in North America” attracts over 21,000 photographers and enthusiasts and over 225 exhibitors each year in the fall. The conference covers the full spectrum of photography, including educational seminars, master classes, portfolio reviews, and an expo of the latest innovations in digital imaging.

In the spring, Aipad (Association of International Photography Art Dealers) runs a photography show that is hailed as the “longest-running and foremost exhibition of fine art photography.” With 90 exhibitors and over 12,000 attendees, the show has something for everyone, including lectures, private tours, and previews of exhibitions from New York’s finest museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Museum of Modern Art.

Photoville, hosted by United Photo Industries in September, is the largest annual photographic event in New York City and brings together over 71,000 visitors. The show focuses on “interactivity” and “immersion” and offers exhibitions, workshops, and talks to a diverse spectrum of attendees.
“It is more important to click with people than to click the shutter.” - Alfred Eisenstaedt (1898-1995), celebrated photographer of V-J Day in Time Square


"Just how important is AIPAD? Check out whatwhat we learned about gender diversity and photography by studying 3,000 of their photographers! "

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4. Robert Mann Gallery

Robert Mann hangs work that makes waves in contemporary photography, like this show, "Gardening at Night" by Cig Harvey–Cassi Segulin for ONWARD

One of the Most Important and Well-Respected Galleries in the World

Focused on both the masters of photography in the 20th-century and today’s emerging cutting-edge artists, this preeminent gallery in Chelsea has showcased the likes of Ansel Adams and Cig Harvey. Its exhibitions, are often tied in with a release of a new photobook.

Critically acclaimed by national and international media, including PBS and the U.K.’s Telegraph, the works are at the forefront of fine art photography and zeitgeist of the modern times.
“Vintage photographs and contemporary works that contextualize new movements in the field”


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5. United Photo Industries

United Photo Industries' bright and inviting gallery space in Brooklyn–Cassi Segulin for ONWARD

Photography Without Borders

With its aim to bring photography to the masses, UPI, a New York-based organization, has not only gone the usual route with exhibitions and events in a permanent gallery in Brooklyn, but it has also taken photography into various atypical venues across the urban landscape, including a 350 feet photographic fence hung up at key public spaces around New York city (as well as Boston, Atlanta, and Houston) to maximize public discussion and interest in photography. As a host of the premier photography event Photoville, UPI continues to present thought-provoking, challenging, and exceptional photography from across the globe.
“To push the conversation forward and help develop new viable models for the photo industry, not lament the loss of past glories, or fear new technologies”

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6. Alice Austen House

Work by Alice Austen and other can be seen at her former home on Staten Island © Alice Austen House

Museum to Honor the Legacy of Pioneer Female Photographer Alice Austen (1866-1952)

As one of the first woman photographers to go out and capture the real world outside the studio, documentary photographer extraordinaire Alice Austen broke new ground well before the field of photojournalism was established. Her former house, named Clear Comfort, a National Historic Landmark, on Staten Island now houses her collection and offers photo exhibitions and workshops.

The House “fosters creative expression, explores personal identity, and educates and inspires the public through the interpretation of the photographs.” They are admirable goals that Austen herself exemplified in her life’s work and no doubt would endorse for today’s generation of photographers.
“I am happy that what was once so much pleasure for me turns out now to be a pleasure for other people." -Alice Austen

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7. Printed Matter

Shoppers will never tire of Printed Matter's diverse and frequently updated selection–Cassi Segulin for ONWARD

World’s Leading Non-profit Organization Dedicated to Artists' Books

Even little known books from emerging artists need a good home. Printed Matter offers such a safe refuge with its open submission policy for artists and small independent publishers. With over 32,000 titles circulated annually, this bookstore offers an eclectic collection of diverse artists found nowhere else in the world.

This bookstore also offers ancillary services for those interested in delving more into the world of artists’ books, including in-store talks, presentations, research and bibliographic services featuring its extensive database in all things related to artists’ books. Its archives also serve as an important record of the development of the art form.
“The artists’ book can be an incredibly powerful communicative force.”


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8. Bronx Documentary Center

The Bronx Documentary Center has an always rotating collection of photographs in their gallery space–Cassi Segulin for ONWARD

Breaking Down Boundaries Through Photography and Education

The Center hopes to build communities and dialogue between the haves and the have-nots and to frame the Bronx community and other underserved neighborhoods within a national and global perspective. The founder Michael Kamber, former journalist for the New York Times, transformed a 1000 square-foot landmark building into a vibrant community cultural center for promoting peace and social progress.

The participants from the Bronx area have an opportunity to express themselves and effect social change through photography. For the public, it offers various exhibitions, film screenings, and lectures: all with the purpose of benefiting the Bronx community and its participants.
“We bring the world to the Bronx and the Bronx to the world.”

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9. Dashwood Books

Dashwood Books is filled with new and rare photography titles–Cassi Segulin for ONWARD

New York City's Only Independent Photography Bookstore

For bibliophiles exclusively looking for photography books, Dashwood Books is the place to start. David Strettell, the owner and photographic curator, carefully selected the inventory and often holds regular book signings and events in the bookstore. The selection ranges from the 1960s up to contemporary times and comes from as diverse cities as Tokyo, Amsterdam, London and Vienna. In fact, some of these titles are only available in New York.

In the last ten years, photography books have emerged as an art form comparable to print art, and Dashwood Books continues to be the forefront in disseminating this medium through publishing its own exclusive titles.
“I'm primarily an enthusiast and thoroughly enjoy turning people on to the beauty that can be found in these books.” –David Strettell, owner of Dashwood Books”


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Explore New York

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New York City is a town best seen on foot. With incredible architecture, parks ranging in size from huge to tiny, and endless people-watching potential, we highly recommend exploring on your own two feet.

 

Of course, the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) offers an expansive system of public transportation for distances too far to walk!

 

With subway lines running the length of Manhattan island and into the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens, there's always a stop close by that can get you where you need to go. The city has designed an easily accessible system of stations and maps so that finding directions won't be confusing.

 

Getting to Staten Island can be done easily by bus from Manhattan/Brooklyn or via the famed Staten Island Ferry, sure to give you a great view of the city from the water! In addition to public transportation, NYC taxi's are famous around the globe and there is a great bike-share system, Citibike, in place for rentals. Get the full run-down of where to go and how to get there with our downloadable PDF Map and Guide!

 

Get ONWARD Travel Guide for New York City! »

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