“Explore your own neighborhood” is one of the best pieces of advice I can offer as a professional photographer. I often hop on my bike to get me where I need to go, especially in and around my Brooklyn neighborhood. When I bring along the Canon PowerShot G5 X, unlike when I'm shooting with my SLR, I am able to just put the camera in my pocket and ride.
Sometimes it’s the things that are in your own backyard that can surprise you with their greatness. Prospect Park is filled with activities even in the winter months and great places to snap photos. Let’s start with the front of the park at the “Great Arch,” which I learned for the first time recently is called the Soldiers' and Sailors' Arch and was dedicated in 1892. The Carousel, which was carved in 1912, is another top spot for photos whether you snap one of the 53 horses, or a lion, deer or dragon-pulled chariot. As you circle the park, the nearby Brooklyn Public Library has a façade worth snapping for its decadent gilded accents.
Open Daily l Prospect Park l website
The magnificent façade of the Brooklyn Museum makes you stop in your tracks and automatically reach for your camera. One of the largest art museums in the U.S., the museum is the perfect place to explore on cold winter days whether your interests are African art, European paintings or Egyptian treasures.
Open Wednesday through Sunday l 200 Eastern Parkway l website
Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Everyone flocks to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden in the spring for the cherry blossoms, but there are actually lots of plantlife to see year-round. When it's really cold out, explore the indoor conservatories like the Desert or Tropical Pavilions. These secret treasures usually are fairly quiet. In fact, for me, the Desert Pavilion once proved to be the perfect spot for an impromptu photo shoot with three models.
Winter Hours Through February: Open Tuesday through Sunday l Three entrances: 150 Eastern Parkway, 455 Flatbush Avenue, 990 Washington Avenue l website
A lunch break at this Crown Heights neighborhood café and delicatessen is the perfect way to recharge after a morning of exploration. Yummy choices here include the broccoli sandwich with ricotta, pickled raisins, and pine nuts, and the lamb chili. Sitting at a table by the window offers up perfect lighting if you wish to capture a few shots of your meal.
Open Daily l 409 Lincoln Place l website
Pick up artisanal food items to bring with you to a holiday dinner party or to use to stock up your own pantry or fridge at this specialty provisions shop. Suggested go-to items here are the Castelvetrano olives, and any pick from the copious cheese counter after you sample through a few. My own favorite is their recommended Gruyere.
Open Daily l 228 Flatbush Avenue l website
Gabriela Herman is a Brooklyn-based professional photographer who specializes in travel, food, lifestyle and portrait work around the globe.