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Statue of Liberty from Ellis Island

In planning for a visit to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, there’s a lot you’ll need to know. Like where to buy tickets, when you should go, what to see, etc. That’s all in preparation for your trip. But once you get there, of course, you’re gonna want to take pictures, right? And this guide is here to help. This is our list of the best spots and tips for photos at both the statue and Ellis Island.

1. Laying down on top of Fort Wood 

Group visiting the Statue of Liberty

The ultimate picture with the Statue of Liberty requires a bit of an unconventional position – but it’s totally worth it. With your group standing right in front of the statue, Lady Liberty appears directly above you, her torch shooting up into the sky. It’s almost majestic the way she towers over you. 

In order to get this angle, one member of your party (or a very generous stranger) must lay down on their back and shoot the picture from the ground. That low stance provides the perfect angle. The one and only spot where this works is on top of Fort Wood – the star shaped base of the statue. There’s an entire area where people gather to take photos, but now you know the secret for the best one.

2. From the right side of the ferry

That first time you see the statue is truly unforgettable. Luckily, you can also snap a perfect picture of that moment, if you know where to stand. Upon boarding the ferry boat, most people will head to the left side, since that’s where you can see the statue from the dock. However, you should head upstairs (to the outdoor level) and grab a spot on the right side (the side facing Lower Manhattan). 

Once the boat departs, it immediately turns and half circles the island before docking. So by the time you even get close to the statue, you’ll have a prime view. It’s the only place you can get a picture with the full scope of the statue from afar – Liberty Island and all. Snap as many pictures as you can while others fight for a good spot.

3. In front of the Manhattan skyline

Most people will have taken plenty of photos of the skyline at Liberty Island. But Ellis has, in my opinion, the best view of them all. At the eastern corner of the island (right next to the Wall of Honor) guests can sit along a stone wall with the most amazing backdrop behind them – the entire Manhattan skyline, including the Freedom Tower, Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan. On a clear day you can even see the Empire State Building off in the distance.

4. With the nature of Liberty Island

In the spring and summer, the nature of Liberty Island is in full bloom. The scenery becomes even more pleasing. This is an excellent opportunity to add some extra beauty to your statue photos. Experiment by walking around the island and shooting from different angles. My favorite view is shooting directly up through the trees to the statue above.

5. At the far end of the Registration Room

The most stunning spot on Ellis Island is undoubtedly the Registration Room. This grand hall was once filled with thousands of hopeful immigrants, hoping to pass all necessary tests and be allowed into the country. Today, the grand archways and immense open space evokes a feeling of magnificence. 

With such a large space, the best spot for a picture is at either end of the long hall. My personal favorite spot is right at the top of the steps from the Baggage Room. Before you start to explore, step to the side and put your phone/camera on “landscape” view to capture as much as possible.

6. Sunrise/Sunset

Okay, so technically you can’t actually take a picture during sunrise, since the island is never open that early. But, with the right timing, you can catch the sun at the perfect angle as it rises towards the center of the sky. As you can see in the photo above, if you stand behind the statue in the early morning, you can get a really cool shot of the sun’s rays beaming around her. The exact timing depends on the day, but this would have to be done most likely right away once you get off the boat.

Unfortunately, it’s near impossible to get this kind of photo from the front of the statue during sunset. Since the sky is darkening at the same time, it won’t have the same effect. However, there are other fun ways to capture the sunset with the statue (see below).

7. From inside the Statue of Liberty museum (with the Torch)

There’s multiple photo opportunities in and around the museum. In my opinion though, the best is from inside, looking at the old torch with the statue sitting in the background. Luckily, the windows are lagre enough that if you stand back, you can get both in the frame. 

Of course, you have to time it so that there’s not too many people blocking the view. And it’s ideal if the weather is sunny. So I’d recommend entering the museum as early as possible, first thing upon arrival, if you’re hoping to get a shot like this.

8. Behind the windows of the Registration Room 

From inside the Registration Room at Ellis Island, you have a beautiful and unique view of the Statue of Liberty through the giant, arched windows. This image of the statue is the same one that millions of immigrants gazed at for hours, hopeful and anxious, as they waited in line. 

The view is only accessible via the windows on the south side. But if you plan your picture for the right time, you can get a bonus sunset included (as seen above).

The perfect shot

Tour group in front of the Statue of Liberty

With all these tips, you’ll leave the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island with more than enough magnificent pictures. But ultimately, part of the fun is coming up with your own unique photos and photo ops. Create a silly pose or challenge your group to come up with one together!

Ultimately, photos are taken to preserve these happy memories, so have some fun while you’re out there. And if you’re interested in making the most of your visit to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, consider joining us on a guided tour. Not only will you discover tons of interesting stories but you’ll also have a built-in photographer with your local guide!