We often get asked why we love London and where the best places to shoot are. If you’re aligned to street photography as a medium, London is one of the richest places in the world to shoot street. Yet because of its size, it’s sometimes overwhelming and to newcomers, hard to distinguish where to start.
That’s what prompted this article – a whistle stop tour through our favourite five places in London to photograph. They’re all street photography friendly, full of crowds and most important, easy to blend in.
So let’s get started.
As we work in Aldgate, Tower Hill is only a ten minute walk away. It’s an obvious choice because of the high density of tourists – The Tower of London, Tower Bridge, City Hall and The Thames means no matter what the weather, people will flock to the area in droves.
Tourists are not only great to photograph, but they provide photographic cover. You’re free to blend in, shooting as you wish. People simply think you’re photographing the sights as opposed to them, when in reality you’re doing the opposite. There’s also the fact that tourists are filled with wonder with what they’re seeing. Being a Londoner means you lose that sense of amazement; visitors to the Capital have it written all over their faces.
This makes them perfect photographic subjects.
Right at the heart of The City or The Square Mile, Bank station (opposite The Royal Exchange) is another place that’s tourist heavy because of its heritage. The real reason we love shooting in the Bank area is because it’s financial heavy. This means busy people rushing to and from their offices in smart clothes.
Suits are the dish of the day.
Conversely as it’s a 9-6 weekday destination, shooting at the weekend can be a surreal, yet rewarding experience. It’s virtually deserted because there aren’t any shops or residential housing. Take a short stroll down to St. Pauls for a contrasting scene.
Yes, the Underground. Ye Olde Faithful – that chugging behemoth beneath London’s streets which serves over 3 billion journeys a year. That means a lot of people and a lot of photographic chances. The lack of space in rush hour is the perfect time to work as people jostle for space on the trains. They’ll also be out of their comfort zone, sharing space intimately with strangers.
Tensions do run high, so be sure to take with a smile.
It is worth noting that personal photography is fine on the Tube. Don’t turn up with a tripod and a bag full of gear – staff will get inquisitive and question your intentions. This is understandable considering that London is on constant high alert since the 7/7 bombings in 2005.
Busy, busy and more busy. Oxford Street is teeming this time of year. It never seems to empty and the interchange at Reagent Street, Oxford Street and Soho is one of the busiest places in London. With a recently opened X-Crossing (like Tokyo’s Shibuya Crossing), it’s the perfect place to get lost in the hordes of people and photograph to your heart’s content.
Filled with beautiful people (it’s a known spot for modelling agency scouts), you’ll be left alone to your own devices. It’s also a popular meeting spot which means there is plenty of opportunity for capturing people reuniting with warm embraces.
Skaters, couples holding hands, street performers, snazzy restaurants, The Tate Modern. You can see why Embankment and Southbank is such a popular destination for weekend outings and tourism. It’s also a very popular photography destination. With the River Thames in the background and the sun shining, it can be a safe and relaxing stroll with your camera.
It’s worth keeping an eye peeled in all directions, Southbank has incidents everywhere and it’s best if you’re ready to capture those fleeting moments on film.
What about you, what are your favourite places to photograph in London. If you’re from a different place, let us know anyway. You never know who might be visiting in the near future.
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Disclaimer: This is by no means a definitive list. We will do follow-ups in the future. This is just a start.