The best places to take photos in London!
Are you traveling over to London soon and looking for some cool spots to take some great photos? Maybe you just want to see some cool sights? Perhaps you want to see a couple of spots that are off the beaten path? Well, read on and let me show you what I have learned in my travels to this wonderful city!
I travel to London sometimes on business, and always make sure to bring along my trusty Nikon and my tripod, because this town offers some incredible spots for photographers of all skill levels. Are you interested in historic architecture? Do you love bridges? What about Big Ben? There is so much to see and do there, and I can never get to all of it, but I wanted to share some of my favorite spots that I have come across thus far.
I also have to give some credit to two of my friends who are photographers, and also based in London. I met up with them on a photo walk there earlier this year, and although we hit some big, well-known spots, they also showed me a couple of cool spots that I would never have found on my own. So, take a minute and head over to their sites and check out their work - you will not regret it!
Mike Murphy: http://www.murphyz.co.uk/
John Esslinger: http://www.esslingerphoto.com/
Also, if you want to see all my blog posts about London, you can do so by going here: http://nomadicpursuits.com/blog?category=London
Ok, so here it goes, in no particular order:
1) Big Ben, Parliament
Ok, so if you are like me, you are thinking about Chevy Chase right now. That's ok, I'm sure there's a support group somewhere for us. Anyways, to stay on topic...Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament are beautiful iconic structures that to many folks represent London. Photos of these places are recognized worldwide, and for good reason - this place is awesome! I love when I get off the tube, come up the stairs, and BAM! there's Big Ben staring at me. Such a cool place. As far as photographing it goes, I recommend you cross over the River Thames and head off to the right. There are some great views from that spot. In fact, here is a shot from there...
And here it is while walking towards it from the tube station...
2) The Tower Bridge
I love this bridge. I mean, I actually love all bridges (one of my photographic addictions) but this one is just so cool, I love it even more! I spent a few hours there on my last visit, and took all sorts of shots of this wonderful structure. I recommend you line up on the south side of the River Thames, and over by their City Hall (another great building to shoot). There is a wide pedestrian walkway there, and I am sure you will meet a lot of other photographers standing there, waiting for just the right light. I know I did. Anyways, be sure and get some shots of this iconic structure (I think I will be saying that a lot in this post!).
3) Red phone booths!
I know this is not a location per se, but man you just gotta get at least one shot of these awesome red phone booths! With cell phones being so common these days, I doubt these get any use (assuming they even work) and it would not surprise me if they disappear one day, so hurry up and get the shot! You can find several just a short walk from Big Ben and near Westminster Abbey (and probably some other places in London too!).
4) Buckingham Palace
I have to admit, I only spent a short amount of time at this beautiful palace, looking thru the gate at the Palace Guards, before I had to run on to my next destination. So, I do have some shots but on my next visit I plan to do this a bit more justice! It is a majestic place (you know, the Queen stays there and all that) and is pretty darn large in person! Be prepared for crowds!
5) The London Eye
Or as they might say in Texas...one dang big ferris wheel! Honestly, this thing is massive. I walked under it and just gawked like a tourist (well, ok I am one at times) but it is worth a close inspection! I did not ride on it, though I hear it is fun (albeit pricey). It resides on the edge of the River Thames, and is literally a stone's throw from Big Ben (although on the opposite side of the River). So, you can do lots of touristy stuff without walking all over town!
6) The British Museum
I love going to museums and admiring all the art. As a photographer, it gives me a lot of inspiration. I had heard about this place, and wanted to visit, so I squeezed in a quick stop there last time I was in London. I got to see some incredible art, and of course I took a few pictures. I highly recommend that as soon as you enter, you head for the stairs off to the side, and you will come to a little window of sorts that looks down into the wonderfully large court that you see here. It's a great view and worth a little exercise!
7) Leake Street Graffiti Tunnel
Ok, this one counts as "off the beaten path". It's this crazy tunnel completely (and I mean COMPLETELY) covered in graffiti. When I was photo-walking with Mike Murphy and John Esslinger, they mentioned this as an interesting place to go grab some shots. I loved it! This many not appeal to your inner photographer, but I really enjoy taking shots of graffiti as well as cool signs, so this was like being in hog heaven! It is a short walk from the London Eye - maybe 5 minutes. Just Google it and you're all set! I took many pictures here that night, so check the blog for new ones coming soon!
8) Street signs
Ok, so much like the red phone booths, street signs hardly count as a place. But as I mentioned above, I love signs and I think they really give you a feel for a place. So, don't forget to snap shots of cool signs you see - it really helps you remember things too!
9) St. Paul's Cathedral
Talk about an awesome Cathedral - St. Paul's is a beauty! Though I am not a frequent church visitor at home, I sure do visit a lot of them while on the road! (of course, I bring my camera haha) Here's another tip, this one from Mike Murphy - go to a shopping center called One New Change - it's about a block or so away from St. Paul's Cathedral. Take the elevator to the roof, and voila! You now have a great view of St. Paul's and pretty much the rest of London too! But note that the security folks there are not always too keen on you breaking out the camera there, so either do it in stealth mode, or make something up. :) Here's a shot from the ground, as I was approaching St. Paul's en route to meeting Mike up on the roof of One New Change.
10) The Millenium Bridge
Yes, I have a thing for bridges, so you might get an extra dose of that when you visit my blog here, but hey they make great subjects! The Millenium Bridge is a pedestrian-only bridge and it crosses the River Thames sort of half-way between the Tower Bridge and the Westminster Bridge (down by Big Ben). As you can see from the photos below, it also gives you a direct shot at St. Paul's Cathedral, so it makes it easy to hit all these great spots when you visit!
11) The Shard
Isn't this an awesome building? I know, it's not finished, but when it is I suspect it will be pretty awesome looking! I believe I read somewhere that it will be the tallest building in London when completed, so next time I am there I hope to get a shot of it all done!
12) Paddington Station
I love train stations, and always find cool stuff to shoot in them, beyond just the trains. Usually I find the architecture is pretty sweet. Though most of my time in and around London takes me through Waterloo Station, when I am heading home I depart the city from Paddington Station because that one has the direct train out to Heathrow Airport. Early one morning, I was about to board the train to Heathrow, and just had to take this shot! It's awesome looking right?
13) Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey is a huge Gothic church right in the middle of London. You can't miss it really - it's basically next door to Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, and we both know you are visiting those places right? I am a huge fan of churches and cathedrals as they always have such rich architectural details (this one is Gothic, which always rocks in my opinion) so be sure and have the camera ready!
14) English Pubs
I think in some respects London is known for its English pubs as much as anything else. You can find them on all sorts of street corners. I don't know what it is about them, but they are just so...British. Plus, they have cool names!
15) The London Skyline
I love skyline shots, and I think that the skyline of London is beautiful. I took this shot from the Tower Bridge, and recommend that you do the same when you are there (see #2 above). There are plenty of good spots to stand (and set up a tripod) and either side of the river offers a great view (this happens to be looking to the North side).
16) Leadenhall Market
This place is incredible. You're going to swear you stepped into Diagon Alley in a Harry Potter book. It's awesome. Go there now. You can thank me later.
17) The Natural History Museum
This place reminds me so much of Hogwarts from the Harry Potter books. The architecture is incredible, you really do need to make time to see this place!
18) Canary Wharf
Canary Wharf is a business district and financial center in East London. It's a great place to shoot architectural shots. You can also catch a ride on Emirates Air Line (a cable car) across the River Thames and be rewarded with this view!
19) University of Greenwich
This University also sits in East London and is not too far from the Canary Wharf area. It's not a large campus, but the architecture is stunning. Put it on the list!
20) St. Pancras International Train Station
This is the hub for the Eurostar, which is the train that takes you under the English Channel and over into France. It's fun to ride, and if you show up early enough you can fire some shots here too!
21) Kings Cross Station
Yep, it's another train station for ya, but look at that ceiling! This is also the one that Harry Potter departed from when he left for Hogwarts. Kinda cool.
22) Hay's Galleria
This one sits on the Southbank area of London, next to the Thames and really close to London City Hall. Pretty nice little spot!
23) London City Hall
This is an iconic structure in London, and quite interesting looking I might add. As you can see, it's really close to the Tower Bridge and since you are already planning to go there, why not shoot this spot too? :-)
24) Southwark Cathedral
This little beauty is quite stunning. It also sits along Southbank, not too far from City Hall. Just use Google Maps and you can easily find it. It's well worth a visit and is certainly worth photographing!
25) Covent Garden Market
I always try and get to well-known spots in addition to the lesser-known ones. Depending on your opinion, Covent Garden Market is not too well known, but I really enjoyed the architecture here (which I'm a fan of shooting). This is a short stroll from Trafalgar Square so quite central and easy to find!
26) Greenwich Foot Tunnel
Count this one as a "you don't do THAT everyday" kind of thing. This sits way on the East end of London. It's a tunnel that goes UNDER the River Thames, which is a pretty cool thing to do.
27) Trafalgar Square and The National Gallery
Everyone loves the big lion statues at Trafalgar Square, and you will always find someone sitting on them. But in the evening, it's much less crowded and you can line up some great shots there, without all the tourists in the way!
Well, that concludes this rather lengthy list! I do appreciate you taking a few moments to read through this! London is a great town, and there are many, many more sights to see and photograph, that just didn't make this list yet (and I have a list a mile long for my future visits!). This list is just the top ones that I have encountered while wandering around there with my camera. I hope that it proves helpful for you and thanks again for stopping by!
If you want to add some additional spots, please feel free to add them in the comments section!