Central Park Summerstage (Rumsey Playfield): NYC Venues Broken Down

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As a part of our Concert Photography series, we’ve previously listed all the New York City concert venues categorizing them based on whether or not those venues had photo pits. Now for this next installment, we’ll be breaking down specific venues and including our personal experiences.


Rumsey Playfield is in my opinion the most annoying venue to find in Manhattan, but maybe that’s because I’m a downtown person and I’m not used to the winding roads. However Rumsey/Summerstage is generally a pleasant experience for shooting. When you arrive, in order to pick up your photo pass you’ll need to find the press tent which is to the left of where people get their tickets scanned. (This is Rumsey’s equivalent of a box office.) Once you get into the venue, security will only allow you into the pit 10 minutes before the act goes on. You’ll go to the right of the stage, where a security guard at the fence will check your credentials.

As a five foot tall person, the stage is high enough that I can still rest my elbows on the stage in order to stabilize my camera and reduce shake. There’s a good amount of walking room, as the pit is spacious, but this also depends on the amount of photographers in the pit. Lighting is generally very good. Summer shows tend to be nicer since it’s still daylight out longer. Night shows at Rumsey aren’t so bad since their lighting system is good. However be warned, if it happens to rain during the show, you’ll have nowhere to hide. Fortunately enough, during a flash rain storm during She & Him, some people allowed me to leave my gear in the AT&T tent. The area where merch is sold also happens to sell ponchos for 5-10 dollars.

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Nancy Hoang created Hopeless Thunder in 2007. She conducts the interviews, writes the articles, photographs the concerts, and handles the site's coding & design. (Basically, she's a control freak.) Her work can also be seen on music publication, CMJ. Contact Nancy for image licensing, assignments, or just to say hi.