London photography guide
Our contributors have added 200 photo spots to this London photo guide. Have you discovered an amazing new location in London?
London is one of the most visited cities in the world. With so many instantly recognisable iconic and historic sites mingled in with the ultra modern, the quirky and fleetingly pop-up, it can be hard to know where to get started. Whether you’re capturing your visit on a mobile phone or have planned your trip specifically for photography, London requires a plan - a plan flexible enough to allow you to divert and explore a stumbled upon viewpoint, a tucked away cobbled street, an unexpected garden or modern sculpture, but one that also helps you to take in Lonon’s classic monuments and key locations and get the most out of whatever time you have there.
London is renowned for its diversity and is one of the world’s most cosmopolitan cities and this is reflected in all aspects of daily life, from food, to fashion, to music, art and culture. It’s therefore no surprise that London is such a major draw for urban street photography. The city also has one of the most vibrant and exciting street art scenes and, due to its ever-changing nature, there are always fresh works springing up across the capital.
This is a city as much about leafy landscapes and sprawling parks as it is about densely packed monuments, museums and architectural wonders. It’s not difficult to escape the hustle and bustle and quickly find yourself in wide open green spaces, manicured gardens or wilder heathlands. The good news is that this guide covers it all - from the familiar and historic to the unexpected and quirky. You’ll have plenty to choose from to create itineraries to suit any style of photography or to hone in and specialise on your particular niche area.
There are few restrictions to photographing in London other than the usual you would expect in a city. Buildings such as museums, churches and art galleries will display their own guidelines clearly. One question that comes up a lot is ‘can I use a tripod’. The answer, confusingly, is yes and no! It depends very much where you are in the city. Be aware that some areas in London (for example near the London Eye or More London and parts of the Thames footpath) are privately owned with public access and the minute you pull out a tripod, you will attract the attention of a security guard. Sometimes if you explain you are not photographing for commercial purposes you may be allowed to continue to use your tripod, especially if it’s at a quieter time, but if it’s a no, it’s a no and you should put your tripod away and shoot handheld or find another spot. In all cases apply common sense when photographing in crowded areas where a tripod might be an irritation to others or even be a safety hazard.
Most popular London photo spots
Choosing the perfect day in London is a tough one as there are so many options depending on your taste and time in the city, but if you’re looking for a classic dawn to dusk shoot, start early in the morning with a sunrise shoot of Tower Bridge from the north bank of the Thames. Move on to explore the maze of lanes in the City of London taking in of and from St.Paul’s Cathedral, or head to Brick Lane for a more urban daytime shoot full of spectacular graffiti and street scenes. Capture early evening light from the viewing platforms of Tate Modern. End with a classic blue hour shoot from Millenium Bridge, taking in London’s skyline and the Shard.
A favourite area of ours is South Bank, a dynamic area along the river Thames and the heart of London’s cultural scene. The riverside walkway is lined with trees, historic pubs, pop-up eateries, fairs and events. A stroll along this stretch allows you to capture many of London’s iconic landmarks - the London Eye, Big Ben and St. Paul’s - not to mention incredible examples of Brutalist architecture (The National Theatre and Southbank Centre), a skate park and second hand book market.
The Tube (London Underground) is usually the fastest way to get around the city. Trains operate from around 5.30am to 12.30am and 24 hours on Friday and Saturday on five of the lines. Use a UK bank card or an Oyster card to get the cheapest fares (check bank charges if using an overseas bank card), or purchase a one-day or weekend travel card (which will also cover bus travel). The DLR and Overground trains will get you to many locations outside central London.
Buses are a great way to get a feel for the city and whilst often slower due to traffic, they are extensive and frequent. Use an app such as Buschecker or Moovit to help you plan journeys and find bus stops.
At least one black cab ride is must but this is not a cheap way to get around. You’ll be able to hail a black cab in most areas of London. Uber is frequently used and drivers are adept at finding you and a place to stop!
Santander Cycles, London’s city bike hire scheme, offer another way to get around. You’ll need to download the app which will also show you the many docking stations nearby.
Thames Clipper boats run regular services between Embankment, Waterloo (London Eye), Blackfriars, Bankside (Shakespeare's Globe), London Bridge, Tower Bridge, Canary Wharf, Greenwich, North Greenwich and Woolwich piers. There are boats that go out as far as Hampton Court (via Richmond and Kew).
Transport For London
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