New Year’s Eve Times Square Photos NYC: 2021

January 13, 2021

When I’m not photographing weddings, I photograph events and more around the world. This year, I photographed the Times Square New Year’s Eve Ball Drop in New York City…yes, during COVID.

Machine Gun Kelly Times Square NYE 2021 photographer Kathryn Cooper

NYC Photographer | Creative Photographer New York | New York Photographer

I’ve photographed the New York City Times Square Ball Drop for New Year’s Eve several times, but 2021 was naturally a little different. Photographing on behalf of the Times Square Alliance–the company that puts on the entire event–I went through rigorous Covid testing and mask wearing to qualify for work. Shooting Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest was oh so different for 2021.

This was the first year I photographed the entire event solo. In fact, there were only 4 photographers allowed to photograph the stages: Me, the photographer for AP, a sponsor photographer, and the photographer for ABC news.

(I’m smack in the middle of the photo in a blue jacket. Can you see me?)

When I’m not photographing weddings under my Kathryn Cooper Weddings brand, I photograph a wide range of events, conferences, corporate brands, travel destinations, private companies, actor headshots, personal branding, food beauties, television BTS, nonprofits…well, you get the picture. It’s all under my Kathryn Cooper Photography brand, which I started long before I photographed weddings!

My clients are often quite interested in my life outside of wedding photography, and I always get the question: What’s your favorite thing to photograph?

To that, I answer that aside from photographing New Year’s Eve in Times Square, the thing I absolutely love photographing is nonprofits. My favorite jobs have been when on assignment in remote parts of the world, photographing nonprofit projects for local, national, and international nonprofits in places such as Myanmar, The Gambia, Nepal, and more.

But I digress. Plus, nonprofit photography is practically nonexistent during COVID, with the ability to travel cut down to 0. As with many things in 2020, my nonprofit, TV, and conference/corporate photography schedule was cut down to nothing as every single event was canceled. Except for new year’s in Times Square! I was offered the solo gig and accepted, despite the long hours, 4 covid tests needed, and commitment to change all my Christmas and NYE plans (hint: there weren’t many).

The highlights in photographing this event were definitely Machine Gun Kelly and Jennifer Lopez—both excellent performers who knew how to work the crowd. Their energy, movement, and excitement made for my favorite photos of the night without a doubt.

Other guests I photographed or met included Anderson Cooper, Andy Cohen, Gloria Gaynor, Allitta, Jimmie Allen, Pitbull, Twitch, Billy Porter, Ryan Seacrest, and more.

Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen TSQ NYE 2021

Jonathan Bennett and his new fiancé Jaymes Vaughan made for a wedding-esque shot. As you can see, Jonathan was thrilled about getting proposed to!

Then they started dancing with their friend Kelly Osborne, so I had to capture that…

The night ended with a fantastic performance by J Lo, and then it was time for the ball drop while mayor Bill De Blasio and his wife waited for the ball to drop. Special guests Juanita Erb and Senka Filipovic were on stage to welcome in the new year as well.

Times Square NYE 2021 photographer Kathryn Cooper
Times Square NYE 2021 photographer Kathryn Cooper

Healthcare heroes from around New York, including Sandra Lindsay, the first person to be vaccinated in the entire country. There were also LGBTQ activists, social workers, teachers, nurses, doctors, Army staff, paramedics, and more—all in separated pods with their families/chosen pods.

All in all, it was a really fun (but busy!) day of work. I had a great editor working with me live, and we worked well over 12 hours until after 2 a.m. (I was up until 5 a.m. and then all the next day to edit) so that the Times Square Alliance’s website and social media accounts would have all the material they needed.

You can see quite a few of the photos up on the official Times Square Facebook Page:

I also have plenty up on my other Instagram:

But hey, here are a bunch of my favorites! And now you know what I’m doing when I’m not photographing weddings in New York, California, and beyond. <3

Kathryn Cooper Weddings and Kathryn Cooper Photography | New York Wedding Photographer | New York Event Photographer | NYC Wedding Photographer

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OMG Kathryn these are AWESOME!!! I’ve done my share of celebrity events and they are always a blast. I LOVE the photo you got of Anderson & Andy! Amazing job with these <3

It has been my dream to attend one of those NY places and experience those moments! These are fantastically captured Kathryn!

Wow! What an epic night. Both your concert shots and your non-profit shots are excellent. Looking forward to seeing more!

Wow this is so cool! I bet it was such a cool experience to be in NYC for NYE.

I absolutely love this! What a cool experience, NYC when the ball drops. It must have been weird with only accepted personnel but awesome you got to photograph the front line workers there. The non-profit photography photos are stunning, and it’s amazing that you do that as well. Great work!

Ahh thanks so much, Ryan! Yes, it was SUPER weird without fans and noisemakers and the excited spirit. Still, lots of fun.

Dang this is awesome. I can imagine non-profit photography taking a cut this past year. I hope that picks back up for you soon! In the meantime, these concert images are rad. Well done!

Thank you Jaymie! I do love the concert photography (but can’t wait to get back to non profits!!).