Vancouver has the unique feeling of being a place where city and nature intersect.
Modern architecture and artistic sculptures are frequently spotted in the city centre, yet just around the corner are vast parklands, beaches, dense forest, and mountain ranges. A wide selection of photography opportunities are possible all within the city boundaries.
If you’ll be travelling around Canada on a photography trip, here are some of the best photography spots in Vancouver, BC.
Vancouver Photography Tips:
- Visit the city centre locations first thing in morning or last thing in the evening to avoid the bulk of the tourists who frequent those areas. During the daytime, head out to the nature spots in North Vancouver as some attractions will only be open for photography during business hours.
- Polarizing filters may be useful for these Vancouver photo spots as you’ll be dealing with water reflections. This will help to increase the saturation and reduce any glare in your photos.
- Tripods will also come in handy for the various locations that include water, helping to smooth out the surface and capture flow.
Photography Spots in Vancouver:
- Science World Building
- Trans Am Totem
- Stanley Park
- Lions Gate Bridge
- Stanley Park Drive Overpass
- Capilano Suspension Bridge
- Capilano Lake
- Grouse Mountain
As one of the city’s oldest neighbourhoods, Gastown is a perfect place to start your photography journey in Vancouver. Historic brick warehouses have now been transformed into trendy city cafes, boutique shops, and restaurants, making it a great option for street photography.
The main attraction in Gastown is the famous steam clock. Created in 1977 (though the appearance is more antique), the device is one of only a few steam clocks in the world. This spot can get busy with tourists during the day, so visit early in the morning to capture the clock while the streets are still quiet.
Science World Building
The Science World Building in downtown Vancouver is one of the city’s most recognisable structures. The interesting shape of the geodesic dome stands out from all the right angles seen in other modern city buildings.
The best spot to see it is from Creekside Park to the south of the building, where you can set up a tripod for night photography and capture the dome lit up along with the reflections of the city lights floating on the water.
Trans Am Totem
The Trans Am Totem is a modern nod to the historic totem poles that BC is known for. This sculpture is something truly unique to focus your camera on as it consists of a pile of cars sitting atop a huge tree trunk next to a roaring highway. If you were driving past, you might just blink and miss it.
To capture this art piece, head to Concord Community Park then cross the road at the traffic lights to get to the grassy patch which holds the sculpture. Photo angles can contrast the art piece against the blue of the sky, or you can use a wide angle lens to capture its urban surroundings.
Kitsilano is one of the best places to get views of the Vancouver city skyline. Starting at the beach, follow the Kitsilano Seawall as it travels around Kits Point until you arrive at Elsje Point in Hadden Park.
This spot is best to visit on days when the visibility is good so that you can see the impressive mountain range far in the distance. Take along a telephoto lens to capture some up close shots of the buildings with their mountainous backdrop.
Stanley Park is a spacious and pretty green area located right next to the city centre. Photographers often walk along the seawall for cityscape photography over the marina and head to the colourful totem poles.
The collection of totem poles is located at Brockton Point. Made from western red cedar trees with carvings used for storytelling, these cultural totems have been sourced from remote areas in British Columbia. This is the state’s most visited tourist attraction, so arrive very early in the morning to do your photography without the crowds.
Lions Gate Bridge
Lions Gate Bridge carries vehicles and pedestrians from Stanley Park over the harbour to North Vancouver. Walking along the bridge provides stunning views of the Stanley Park Seawall as it curves around the shoreline below.
It’s best to visit this Vancouver photo spot during golden hour, right before sunset, for the best lighting conditions. Remember to use shutter priority mode here, as the movement of the bridge beneath your feet requires a quick shutter speed for sharp photos.
Stanley Park Drive Overpass
After you’ve walked over Lions Gate Bridge, head to the Stanley Park Drive Overpass on the south end. This location allows you to get a head on view of the road with the cars travelling in both directions over the bridge.
This Vancouver photo spot is a great option for blue hour or night shots, as you can set up a tripod and play with long exposures. Cars will draw lines with their headlights as they move along the road.
Capilano Suspension Bridge
One of the most popular Vancouver Instagram spots is the Capilano Suspension Bridge. This lengthy structure sits in deep green forest over the Capilano River north of the city. The bridge is just one section of a man-made playground through a natural forest, which also features a treetop adventure and cliff walk.
The Capilano Suspension Bridge looks best with a person walking across it for scale and perspective in your photos. Go early in the day to avoid other tourists and get the bridge to yourself.
Cleveland Dam separates Capilano Lake with the Capilano River, and features a photogenic spillway that is accessible to the public. Walking over the road above the dam allows photographers to get an interesting downwards view. After a rainfall, water can usually be seen flowing over the spillway towards the Capilano River below.
Nearby on Capilano Lake, hiking trails lead around the lake’s edge to the Capilano Watershed. The tiny shed with its grand natural surroundings are popular for visitors interested in landscape photography.
A ski resort and snowshoeing destination in the winter or an adventure park and nature destination in the summer, Grouse Mountain is a must-do for photographers visiting Vancouver. A gondola will take you from the base to the peak, which provides expansive views over the city and bay.
At the top, a wildlife refuge is one of the few places in Vancouver where you can see resident grizzly bears. This is an easy option for wildlife photography without having to travel out into the wilderness.
Ashlea is an excitable Australian with a passion for photography, sustainability, and travel. She is the creator of A Globe Well Travelled – a blog for those who want to be more adventurous while exploring the world.