How I shot (legally) from rooftops in Manhattan

How I shot (legally) from rooftops in Manhattan

My favorite way to shoot cityscapes, is from above, from the top of buildings. It can be rooftops, observatories, bars and restaurants… In big cities, there are many ways to shoot from above.

Last fall, I visited New York for the third time. I wanted to find new and exciting vantage points that you don’t see on most tourist shots. I though about it when I was preparing the trip and I realized I wanted to shoot from the top of some buildings to find new perspectives. Having already been at the Top of the Rock and the Empire State Building, I had to find other ways.

Trifecta  |  Midtown Manhattan - New York, NY

Trifecta | Midtown Manhattan – New York, NY

The thing about New York is that there are many private rooftops in the city: from bars to restaurant to private balconies… All I needed was access! I searched online and started emailing people. I offered to give them the resulting images for free, in exchange for access to their rooftop.

High View  |  Midtown Manhattan - New York, NY

High View | Midtown Manhattan – New York, NY

I did not really think it would work, but it actually did! In a matter of days, I started receiving positive answers (some refused, of course) and I planned my trip accordingly. In the end, I even ended up cancelling one location because I did not have enough time.

Spires  |  Midtown Manhattan - New York, NY

Spires | Midtown Manhattan – New York, NY

If you are a regular on this blog, you know I usually share the location from where I shoot my images. I am making an exception here, to respect the people and organizations who opened their doors to me.

The Layers Of Midtown  |  Midtown Manhattan - New York, NY

The Layers Of Midtown | Midtown Manhattan – New York, NY

Shooting from these places was absolutely fantastic. I finally found original vantage points over New York City, which is no easy thing to do. Seeing the city from different elevations is mesmerizing. As you will notice, I shot from very high locations, but also from rooftops that were just in the middle of everything. This reveals the many layers and the diversity of Manhattan.

Transient  |  Midtown Manhattan - New York, NY

Transient | Midtown Manhattan – New York, NY

Seeing the city from these exclusive locations had me re-think my approach to cityscape photography. I still love to capture iconic images in my own way, but I am thinking about new ways to find locations and interesting shots.

This was a great experience and I am thinking about doing it again in Toronto, where I live. Stay tuned for more! I’ll leave you with a few more images…

Majesty  |  Midtown Manhattan - New York, NY

Majesty | Midtown Manhattan – New York, NY

Paramount  |  Paramount Building, Midtown Manhattan - New York, NY

Paramount | Paramount Building, Midtown Manhattan – New York, NY

Eternal Icon  |  Midtown Manhattan - New York, NY

Eternal Icon | Midtown Manhattan – New York, NY

Down  |  W 45th St - New York, NY

Down | W 45th St – New York, NY

Coming Through  |  Queensboro Bridge - New York, NY

Coming Through | Queensboro Bridge – New York, NY

Canyon Walls  |  Midtown Manhattan - New York, NY

Canyon Walls | Midtown Manhattan – New York, NY

A New Kid On The Block  |  Midtown Manhattan - New York, NY

A New Kid On The Block | Midtown Manhattan – New York, NY

A View To Die For  |  Midtown Manhattan - New York, NY

A View To Die For | Midtown Manhattan – New York, NY

Presence  |  Downtown Manhattan - New York, NY

Presence | Downtown Manhattan – New York, NY

5 Comments

  • Cathy July 26, 2015 9:54 am

    Amazing shots! I recently tried that but ran out of time to access one private roof. In love with all these photos!

  • Michael Muraz July 26, 2015 5:41 pm

    Thank you, Cathy! It’s always a great way to see the city. Try again next time 😉

    • jonathan figaro January 8, 2017 9:29 am

      Hey MIchael,

      I live in Brooklyn not too far from the city. Can you email me some of these locations? I wanna get some amazing shot as well.

    • Michael Muraz January 11, 2017 10:41 am

      Jonathan, as I mentioned in the article, I am not sharing the locations out of respect for the people who agreed to let me in. However, most of them are easily found with a little research!

    • Eva September 5, 2017 4:50 pm

      Hello Michael, I need your help. I need an access to a rooftop with a panoramic view of New York for a shoot on Sep 9-10. Can you suggest one of your locations or contacts to shoot there ? Please contact me at eva.navoloska@gmail.com

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