View Full Version : Photography in NY

10-Oct-2007, 10:58
Hi all !
I'm going to NY next week and have some maybe not very LF questions :
First of all I need to know if there are any restrictions for taking pictures in NY. I mean you can't take pictures of train stations and policemen in Spain or some gov. buildings and banks in Moscow. What about New York ?
2. Good place in Midtown Manhattan for traditional b&w film ( 35 and 120 ) processing and proofing.
3. Good second hand photo gear shops in Manhattan or near.

Thanks in advance,

Louie Powell
10-Oct-2007, 11:34
Igor -

There are no truly forbidden subjects in New York. There are signs banning photography on/of bridges, but my sense is that this is more of a traffic control and safety issue than concern for sensitive subjects.

There are also some rules in effect governing the use of tripods. The rules are vague, and appear to be enforced mainly in congested areas where tripods may constitute a safety issue. For example, I know that many people use tripods in Central Park with no repercussions at all. Common sense should govern - the police would no doubt stop you if you tried to use a tripod in Times Square, that is provided you aren't trampled by the crowds first..

However, you do need to be sensitive to the fact that the authorities are on high alert for any form of suspicious activity, and may challenge anyone who they feel is doing something that doesn't fit their definition of "normal". What constitutes "normal" varies from one official to the next. Have identification with you, be polite, and maintain a sense of humor.

But if you are in public places acting like a tourist, they are likely to be more concerned about making sure you spend enough money than they are about what your are photographing.

As to places to buy film - B+H is probably the largest and best stocked store in the city. They are at 420 9th Avenue, a couple of blocks north of Penn Station. Another popular place is Adorama on West 18th Street. Be advised that both close early on Friday afternoon and are closed all day Saturday, but they are open on Sunday.

There are lots of places that can turn around processing of conventional 35mm c-41 film. It might be harder to find a place equipped to do 120 roll film, and even harder to find someone to do black and white. They are they - just harder to find. My suggestion would be to start with B&H.

For used equipment, there are a lot of places. B&H is popular, but there are also a lot of smaller places that aren't as well known.

arkady n.
10-Oct-2007, 11:44
You can take pictures of almost anything in NYC. Most bridges and tunnels have a large sign saying that photography is prohibited, but there are plenty of parks around the same bridges from where you can easily photograph them (for some great views go to DUMBO area in brooklyn).

Tripods are not allowed on city streets and sidewalks, I am not sure about parks. This is a public safety issue. If you want to setup a tripod, you need to get a permit. More info here : http://www.nyc.gov/html/film/html/permits/still_photography.shtml

Disclaimer : what do I know, do I look like a city official?

David A. Goldfarb
10-Oct-2007, 11:51
For BW labs, try Sixty-Eight Degrees--


I haven't been there since they moved to 30th St., but they have a big Refrema dip-and-dunk filled with many gallons of Xtol, and can turn around B&W in any format up to 20x24" fairly quickly.

Duggal (www.duggal.com) is another big lab with quick turnaround, but further downtown on 23rd St.

If you want something really midtown, Midtown, try Modernage--www.modernage.com--between 44th and 45th St. on 6th Ave.

Manhattan is kind of an expensive place for used camera shopping, but try--



Mike Chini
10-Oct-2007, 11:57
You shouldn't have any problems. I recently photographed Grand Central Station, the Empire State Bldg and other sites for a job - many at night. I had the proper permits just in case but many a cop passed by without blinking an eye. The only person that bothered me was some old guy butinsky who remarked that what I was doing was illegal without a permit (which I had). Pretty funny. I got into some great conversations with just regular passersby.

For film processing, many pros now use CRC in Chelsea. Just google, Color Resource Center.

NYC has SO MANY photographers and film crews, it is something with which officials are very familiar. Don't sweat it, stay away from truly suspicious areas like going under the Brooklyn Bridge and you'll be fine. Worst thing that will happen is you'll get asked to move. What IS likely is that there will be some bus, construction set-up or other stuff in the way of whatever you want to shoot. And keep your eyes peeled. NYC is very safe nowadays but you have to still keep an eye on your equipment at all times.

10-Oct-2007, 12:05
The rules about tripods are probably only enforced in busy areas (if at all). I've always photographed away from midtown and the financial district, and haven't once attracted attention from cops in the last ten years. I actually learned about the tripod rules on this forum.

In general, it's hard to attract attention in this city. If you photographed while nude, with your hair on fire, a few people might look up.

David A. Goldfarb
10-Oct-2007, 12:09
Tripods in Central Park and most large parks are okay, and you won't be bothered if you're just one person with a tripod.

In the parks along the river downtown, like Battery Park, Wagner Park, and near Ground Zero, you're likely to be asked if you're doing commercial photography with a tripod, and as long as you're not, they'll usually leave you alone.

No tripods in Grand Central Terminal during rush hours, but you can get a permit for a tripod from the Station Master's office between rush hours.

10-Oct-2007, 12:22
...you're likely to be asked if you're doing commercial photography with a tripod, and as long as you're not, they'll usually leave you alone.

at other times when people have acted suspicious (used to happen a lot when i photographed in residential areas in smaller cities) it's helped to have samples of my work to show them. usually just a postcard or show invitation ... something to show that i'm not
- a terrorist
- some commercial guy who will somehow get rich by photographing their bungalow but won't give them a cent
- (worst fear of all) a surveyor trying to put a highway through their living room

10-Oct-2007, 12:36
(worst fear of all) a surveyor trying to put a highway through their living room

- so the photography crowd is not on the bottom rung after all -

12-Oct-2007, 14:34
next weekend should be about peak leaf season near me. i am 1.5 hours North of NYC by bus or car. it would be worth the effort. there are reservoirs,mountains, rivers and plenty of other great stuff.


Pete Roody
12-Oct-2007, 16:57
I like FotoCare for film. Their address is: 136 W. 21st Street

13-Oct-2007, 12:20
Many, many thanks to all !
Best regards,