Just thinking about New York evokes a rich array of thoughts and emotions. Of course, many immediately think of the hustle and bustle Times Square and Central Park, alive with neon lights and plenty of people. But just outside of city lines lies a world of diverse landscapes, individuals, and opportunities. The following list covers just a few things any photographer in New York should try to cross off of their bucket list, whether their visit lasts just a few days or for an entire lifetime.

A scenic view from Albany, NY

Wander city streets

Plenty photographers past and present, such as Diane Arbus, Weegee, Alfred Stieglitz, Garry Winogrand, and Nan Goldin, have made some of their most renowned work exploring the streets in the boroughs of New York City. Indeed, there seems to be something peculiar or interesting happening just around every street corner. But, believe it or not, there are actually 13 cities throughout the state of New York with populations exceeding 50,000 people. You may be surprised to learn about the unique beauty that smaller cities such as Albany, Utica, and Buffalo have to offer

A view from Minnewaska State Park in southeastern New York

Look into New York’s natural wonders

With an incredibly diverse landscape, New York is home to dozens of state parks marked for public conservation. Some are incredibly well known, while others are well kept secrets. Each has its own set of unique attributes, from the pitch pines and ice caves of Minnewaska to the bedrock gorges and falls of Letchworth. No matter where you find yourself in the state, it’s likely that there is an amazing photo opportunity lurking in the trees just around the corner at little to no cost.

Get to know local photography resources

Surrounded by the scenery of the Catskills, The Center for Photography at Woodstock lies snug in between a small row of restaurants and shops. Over the years, it has become renowned within the photographic community for its top quality educational workshops, frequent lectures series, and professionally curated gallery. Just a few hours north in Syracuse is Light Work, a non-profit organization with annual artist residencies, digital labs open to the community, and extensive collection of art. In New York City, photographers can find inspiration at the International Center for Photography or even the Museum of Modern Art.

The George Eastman House in Rochester, NY

Visit the George Eastman House

There’s a reason why Rochester, New York is known as the photography capital of the world. The corporate headquarters of Kodak, imaging professionals have flocked to the area for over a century. Though the heyday of film photography has past, The George Eastman Museum is a must see attraction for any student of the medium. Archivist and Conservationists around the world have worked together to create a massive film archive and teach the general public all about the history of photography. Alongside aging daguerreotypes and a slew of vintage cameras are contemporary works representing groundbreaking artists from around the world.

Explore the Adirondack Mountains

Rich with history and ancient geology, the Adirondacks have a magic to them that’s hard to resist. American artists have been inspired by the lakes, hills, trees, and wildlife of the area for hundreds of years. Even today, thousands of people spend their time sightseeing among the Adirondacks. Whether you prefer watching the actions of tourists in the villages and towns scattered across the area or prefer to spend your time in peaceful solitude, this destination is sure to leave you with images worth holding on to.

Aerial shot of Horseshoe Falls in Niagara Falls, NY

Check out Niagara Falls

On the border of New York and Canada lies the town of Niagara Falls, home to the eponymous epic body of water that has attracted sightseers to the area for decades. Though New York State has a wide variety of things every photographers should see, Horseshoe Falls hardly has comparison. Almost equally interesting is the culture that risen around the attraction – photographers such as Alec Soth have made fascinating work concerning the deteriorating tourist trap worth taking a look at.

The thing that truly sets New York apart from other states is its eagerness to please. There seems to be a little something of everything. From big city streets to tranquil meadows, the state as a whole simultaneously rich with history and on the cutting edge of photography. Aside from this list, there are hundreds of hidden gems waiting to be found. With all that it has to offer, it’s hard to feel disappointment in this diverse, incredible setting.