My Favorite Venues (to shoot at) in New York
I wanted to share my favorite venues to shoot at in New York. I didn’t specify NYC because there are too many great venues outside of Manhattan. The list of my favorite venues to see a show at would be a bit different so keep that in mind if you don’t see certain venues on here, it doesn’t mean I don’t like them! Also please note that there are some venues I haven’t had the opportunity to shoot at yet, such as Madison Square Garden, Hammerstein Ballroom, Kings Theatre, Beacon Theater and Radio City Music Hall. I can imagine if I had shot at a few of these, they would be pretty high up on my list! I’m also very excited to see the renovations that have been done at Webster Hall, a venue I’ve only had the chance to shoot at once back in 2017. Until then here is my current list of favorite venues to shoot shows!
BARCLAYS CENTER (Brooklyn, NY)
I remember seeing the Barclays Center being built when I first moved to New York back in 2011. I have only shot here a handful of times and every time has been incredible. This venue has insanely good lighting and the largest photo pit I’ve ever been in. The security and staff here that I’ve encountered have all been very friendly. I’ve shot a show here where all the photographers got to stay and watch the show from the photo pit after the first 3 songs which was really cool. I’ve also shot shows here where they make you check your camera at guest services if you want to return and watch the rest of the show which is less cool. This is the largest venue on my list with a capacity of 17,000. The size of the venue makes it adaptable to any performers production. The only negative would be that the stage at Barclays is pretty high but because the photo pit is so big you can usually stand far enough back to make it work. Oh, and it’s a terrible place to watch hockey.
CAPITOL THEATRE (Port Chester, NY)
I have only been to this venue once so far but I have been dying to return. It’s an easy one-hour train ride on the Metro North and definitely worth the commute. The Capitol Theatre is absolutely stunning. It’s a historic theatre that’s been around since the 20’s, evident by it’s grand decorative interior and making it the oldest venue on this list. It features a sloped floor making it easy to see your favorite acts even from the back of the crowd. It also has areas with seating in the back of the venue if standing all night isn’t your thing. They sell food here and have coolers of free water which is a nice added amenity. The Capitol Theatre can hold 1,800 making it the perfect size for large touring acts who wish to have a more intimate setting.
TERMINAL 5 (New York, NY)
Terminal 5 is a fairly large venue with a capacity of 3,000. They have a big photo pit and the lighting is always on point. The venue has multiple levels with balconies perfect for crowd shots. It’s not only one of my favorite venues to shoot at but also one of my favorite to go to as a fan. I’ve seen some amazing shows here including Childish Gambino back in 2011, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club in 2013 and Mutemath in 2016. I’ve also been to this venue for a New York Comic Con party for the show Mr.Robot.
BROOKLYN STEEL (Brooklyn, NY)
Brooklyn Steel is a newer venue to the scene, first opening in 2017. It holds 1,800 and has a balcony area as well as several bars throughout. Last year it was even named one of the ‘10 best live music venues in America’ by Rolling Stone Magazine. The one weird thing about this venue is the area with the stage and crowd is separated by doors from the main bar, bathrooms and merchandise. When you open the doors to enter the show area you will have to shove your way through the crowd standing right up against the entrance. It’s also difficult to get to the photo pit as you have you make your way through the crowd to get there. They have a large stage with nice lighting and I’ve gotten some great photos there.
IRVING PLAZA (New York, NY)
The smallest venue on the list is Irving Plaza, with a capacity of only 1,200. The photo pit here is tiny and often overly crowded. To combat this, they have occasionally split photographers into groups. They have a bit of a VIP area on the side of the main crowd area that is raised higher than the floor which they allow photographers to stand in. Their balcony also makes for some great crowd shots. My biggest gripe with this venue is they make photographers get in the GA line. All this means is there is no reason to show up early. That and one time I had a photo pass but for some reason wasn’t allowed in the photo pit. Regardless of that, I still got some great photos because their lighting is pretty great. I also love seeing shows at this venue, which is conveniently located by Union Square.