London is one of the most historic and iconic cities in the world. Throughout history, this immense capital has played an important role. It has developed from a medieval center of power to one of the most influential locations around the globe. Due to its extensive history and fame, London has an abundance of iconic buildings, fascinating museums, and diverse culture.
If you love photography, London is an absolute dream.
Every street corner presents something new to capture. Each borough has its own distinct style and history. To that end, we take a look at the best places to photograph in London – enjoy!
Quick tips for shooting the best places to photograph in London
When exploring the best places to photograph in London you must do a little planning first. The following are some basic tips to help during your adventure in this capital city:
👉 Plan your route
London is a large city and the main sites are spread out over a wide distance. It is advisable to look at your itinerary and plan a route beforehand. The River Thames splits the city in two and creates a large natural barrier.
Make use of the underground, and consider purchasing a day pass to save on transport costs. If you plan your route then you can save time and ensure you can get everything done that you want to.
👉 Stay alert and watch the crowds
Ensure you protect your camera
As the capital city of England, London has a population of over 8 million. To that end, it is an extremely busy city. You must stay alert and keep your wits about you! You may have to battle against the crowds and some of the more popular places could be packed. Ensure you protect your camera and keep it close at all times.
👉 Use a mixture of Aperture and Shutter priority modes
make use of shutter priority mode
We mentioned above that London is busy. Because of this, you should make use of shutter priority mode. If you want to capture the crowds and action, this camera mode will help. You can set faster shutter speeds to capture the motion of people and objects and make the shots look crisp. Alternatively, when shooting architecture and iconic landmarks, the aperture priority mode is a better choice.
Finally, just be creative and try to capture London in a unique way. We already have thousands of generic shots of its landmarks – look for a different angle and use your imagination. Without further ado, let’s jump into the best places to photograph in London:
14 Best Photo Spots in London
1. The London Underground
The underground has become a whole attraction in its own right. This sprawling subterranean transport system is renowned for its complexity. With over 250 stations, it is one of the largest in the world. Aside from serving as a viable means of transport, it is also an awesome place for photography.
Each station looks a little different. Some stations are ultra-modern and have been refurbished. Others retain their original features and look superb. The circular shape of the tunnels. The large escalators. Everything can create a brilliant and unique photo. Waterloo Station and the Embankment Station are two noteworthy photographic stops.
2. The River Thames
The Thames is the longest river in England and the second longest in the UK. A large part of the river flows through central London. This body of water is one of the best places to photograph in London.
Firstly, on the water itself, you can see a myriad of boats, barges and commercial vessels. It is always busy with water traffic and you can take some interesting shots.
Furthermore, from either side of the river, you can capture the London skyline. For example, in the photo below, you can see the impressive Shard skyscraper and other high-rise structures.
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3. St. Paul’s Cathedral
This icon of London has stood for years untouched. It remains a reminder of the perseverance and indomitable spirit of Londoners and British citizens. As London burned and crumbled under the perils of WW2. St. Paul’s stood proud and survived.
The exterior of this Cathedral is ornate and striking. The dominating central dome can be seen for miles around. Inside, the opulent decoration continues. Every inch of the cathedral is covered with gold, bronze, and other precious metals. The frescos are gorgeous and the various statues and reliefs speak deeply of religion and power. When inside St. Paul’s remember to respect the establishment at all times.
4. Tower Bridge
Aside from the Tower of London and St. Paul’s, Tower Bridge is one of London’s most famous icons. This beautiful construct has straddled the River Thames since its creation in 1894. Everyone can recognize its iconic twin towers and the vibrant blue suspension cables.
Try to capture the bridge in its entirety and place it within a backdrop of the modern London skyline – the contrast between old and new is fascinating. Alternatively, you can take photos of the individual details. Try capturing the decals on the steel supports, or the decoration of the tower turrets. A special shot would be to capture the suspension bridge being lifted!
5. Tower of London
Throughout the history of London, one structure has remained – the Tower of London. This iconic complex has held legendary prisoners such as William Wallace, Henry IV of England and Guy Fawkes. Moreover, it has also held the sacred Crown Jewels.
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The white tower is a superb building to photograph. Moreover, the grounds complete with battlements and turrets also offer a brilliant contrast to modern London. In addition to this, you can go inside the awesome museum – this contains a fantastic array of weapons, arms, and armor from a range of historical periods.
6. Leadenhall Market
Would you believe that this indoor market was established in 1321? Since then, it has always been an important market – not only for the products it sold but also because of its magnificent architecture and decoration. The design is similar to the iconic Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan. The interior façade of the shopping center is covered in intricate details and the glass roof is simply sublime.
When photographing this structure, a wide angle lens can help capture the aisles. Alternatively, to create something unique, consider capturing small details of the decoration. The cornices and pillars, for example, look fantastic.
7. Natural History Museum
The Natural History Museum is one of the best known in the world. It contains over 80 million items (yes 80 million!!!) and covers a range of subjects including botany, mineralogy, and zoology.
The skeleton of the gigantic Blue Whale is one of the main attractions, as are the skeletons of various dinosaur species. The different exhibits are fascinating but also offer a photographer some creative and unique shots.
In addition, the structure itself (as with many iconic places in London) is photogenic. The main hall is vast and highly decorative, and the front façade is a fine example of High Victorian architecture.
8. Piccadilly Circus
If you want to test your photographic skills, try capturing the bright lights of Piccadilly Circus at night! Piccadilly Circus is actually just a road junction in the West End of London. It is a busy place and is ideally located next to the theatre district and Leicester Square.
This junction is always bustling with tourists and locals and thus makes it an interesting place to photograph. Furthermore, the bright curved advertisement banners contrast starkly to the older building architecture.
Taking a photo here will test you truly. You could try a myriad of different shots such as an HDR composite or a long exposure to capture the movement and lights.
9. Canary Wharf
These skyscrapers provide excellent photographic opportunities
Canary Wharf is actually a business district on the strangely named Isle of Dogs on the River Thames.
This district is packed full of high-rise structures.
Buildings over 60m in height include One Canada Square, One Churchill Place, 40 Bank Street, and 10 Upper Bank Street. These skyscrapers provide excellent photographic opportunities as individual buildings, and together to form the iconic Canary Wharf skyline.
Many people cross the Thames and capture this high-rise compilation at night – the lights of the skyscrapers create a fantastic shot.
The exhibits within the British Museum alone make this establishment one of the best places to photograph in London. You can see stone statues from Easter Island, mummified remains of Egyptian Pharos and other ancient treasures.
If history is your thing, the British Museum will be your photographic dream.
Not only is the museum packed full of cool historical items, but it also has some gorgeous architecture. The exterior of the building looks more like an ancient Greek temple than a museum – the columns are amazing.
The most impressive aspect, however, is the mesmerizing glass roof complete with its triangular steel framework.
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11. Buckingham Palace
Everyone knows that this is one of The Queen’s residences. Buckingham Palace is another iconic structure of both London and England. The changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace is a fantastic sight to witness. This event alone provides some magnificent photographic opportunities.
The main façade of the palace offers fantastic photographic symmetry.
Moreover, features such as the iron railings topped with golden decoration also look superb. There is also sometimes flower displays outside the main area. There is also the gorgeous Victoria Memorial with its pools and the long stretch of The Mall. This variety makes Buckingham Palace one of the best places to photograph in London.
12. Camden Town
The Camden Market is one of the best outdoor markets in London
Camden Town oozes coolness. It is undoubtedly one of the trendiest and interesting areas in London. The Camden Market is one of the best outdoor markets in London.
You can purchase some brilliant things here and also treat yourself to some tasty street food. The market, of course, provides unique and interesting photographic opportunities.
One of the other main aspects is there different shop facades. Many of the proprietors have gone out of their way to decorate their stores with protruding designs and reflect what you can purchase inside. The whole area is bustling and it is just a cool place to be.
13. St. James’s Park
Next, to Buckingham Palace, there is the expansive St. James’s Park. This is not the largest park in London (that laurel goes to Hyde Park), but it is a peaceful and beautiful haven and a magnificent place to photograph.
The lake in the center of the park offers some fantastic reflections. Furthermore, the many trees and walkways create some amazing compositions – especially when sunlight is falling.
Don’t forget to capture the interesting Duck Island Cottage in the eastern part of the park, and the guard’s memorial adjacent to the Horse Guards Parade area.
14. Neil’s Yard
This location is relatively unknown but it is truly fascinating. Neil’s Yard is a small area near the Covent Garden underground station. It is not an attraction as such, just a collection of shops down a side street.
What’s the draw?
The amazing vibrant colors of course. The buildings are decorated in a myriad of awesome colors – bright greens, blues, oranges and more will dazzle your eyes. You can create some interesting compositions that really pop due to the hues on display.
Moreover, this is a great place to enjoy a coffee or do a little shopping.
These are just a handful of the best places to photograph in London – there is so much more if you have the time to explore! If you visit the capital of England, be sure to check out these iconic destinations.
To see them all, we would advise that a simple long weekend may not be sufficient. Due to this fact, either consider a longer trip or prioritize which places you would most like to photograph!
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Paul loves traveling and photography. He is also a Lightroom and Photoshop expert and likes to test new photo software, apps, and gear. Paul frequently shares his travel photography tips on his travel blog and writes for known photography publications.