It’s fair to say that London has been through a lot through the years. After all, this is the city that survived the plague, a great fire, aerial bombardment during World War II and more recently terrorist attacks and even rioting. It’s risen from the ashes more than once to become one of the most significant cultural, financial and historical cities in the world, so it’s no wonder that London recently came top for the most visited city in the world and even less of a surprise that it’s one of the most photographed places.
But with so much to see and photograph it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, here are some simple tips for capturing the best that London has to offer.
1. Head to the River
If you are after the quintessential photograph of the London skyline, you need to head to the River Thames. From the banks of the river and the various bridges that cross over it, you can capture almost all of the famous landmarks London has to offer. The best time to capture these landmarks is early morning or late afternoon where you’ll have a soft light to make them glow. Another good place to capture the skyline of London is St Paul’s Cathedral where you can climb to the Golden Gallery at the very top for panoramic views of London. You should check The Photographer’s Ephemeris for the direction of the light and plan your shoot accordingly.
Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, The London Eye, St Paul’s Cathedral, Tower Bridge, The Tower of London and even the financial centre are all visible from somewhere along the river. Head further east along the river and eventually you will reach the O2 arena and Maritime Greenwich which is a World Heritage Site and famous for such historic landmarks as the Cutty Sark.
2. Capture London’s Markets
Markets are great places to photograph and should be on every photographer’s shot list and London has no shortage of great markets to photograph. In fact, markets have been an essential part of London’s history right from their origins in the middle ages to today. These markets are now some of the best places in London get great food, original clothing and bargain antiques, and for photographers this means ample opportunities for great photos that often capture the real London away from the glitz and glamour of the West End.
There are lots of markets in London. Here are some of the main markets to add to your shot list:
- Borough Market
- Brick Lane Market
- Camden Lock Market
- Columbia Road
- Covent Garden
- Greenwich Market
- Portobello Road Market
- Old Spitalfields Market
3. Go Beyond the West End
Most of the photos of London you’ll see are of the famous landmarks or the icons like the black taxis or pubs, but to really capture the heart of London you’ll need to go beyond these tourist spots to the various communities that reside in the different parts of the City, for example, head to Southall and you’ll see why this area is often described as Little India. Venture to Edgware Road for a distinctly Middle Eastern vibe or head to Soho where you’ll find Chinatown. All of these communities help make London what it is and are often much more unique and rewarding to photograph than the famous monuments.
4. Head to London’s green spaces
There is no shortage of public parks and open spaces in London. On any given sunny or warm day, these parks are filled with walkers, sun bathers, runners, cyclists and people playing team sports or just relaxing whilst eating their lunch. These parks offer some of the best places to capture beautiful images that depict London. Some of these spaces are Royal Parks which house historic buildings such as Buckingham Palace or Kensington Palace and are also teeming with local wildlife.
The main parks to photograph in London are the Royal Parks which consist of:
- Green Park
- St. James’s Park
- Greenwich Park
- Hyde Park
- Kensington Gardens
- Regent’s Park
- Bushy Park
- Richmond Park
5. Don’t forget Londoners
Often the best way to bring to life a destination is through its locals and London is no exception. It might be commuters heading over the Millennium Bridge on their way to work, a busker near some of the famous landmarks or a store owner watching the world go by outside their shop. These Londoners are what make London what it is and should be a must for any photographer.
6. London Loves an Event
There’s nothing more Londoners love more than an outdoor event. Arguably, the biggest of these is the Notting Hill carnival – Europe’s biggest street festival which has been running since 1964 and it occurs at the end of August over 2 days in London’s trendy Notting Hill area. But there’s plenty more across the year worth photographing like St Patrick’s Day, St George’s Day, Thames Festival, Chelsea Flower Show, Trooping The Colour, The Lord Mayor Show and the various cultural celebrations such as Diwali and Chinese New Year.
7. London Things
Yes it’s a clichés, and yes they have been photographed a million times, but those iconic London things like black taxis, red phone boxes and the Queen’s guards are a part of makes London so special, so don’t be afraid to photograph them. After all, they are a big part of the experience of visiting London.
London is a photographer’s paradise with so much to photograph and see and with careful planning and research you can cover a lot in just a few days. In fact, the only thing that might scupper your plans is the weather.
Now it’s your turn, share your tips and photos below.
Photo credits: Kav Dadfar – All rights reserved. Dreamstime.