The Best Photography Locations in London

Best Photography Locations in London - White tower

As part of my on-going quest to find awesome photography locations around the world to share with you, I recently headed to London, a city I know and love, to see what I could dig up for you.

The bar has already been set high, with my guides to photographing Yosemite, capturing the Grand Canyon at sunrise and sunset and my 12 favourite San Francisco photography spots proving popular, and being British I obviously wanted to do London justice.

I decided to focus on some of the more popular sights for this guide that would happily fit into a weekend trip to London – it would partner up nicely with my five must-do’s in London. Obviously there’s endless opportunity and countless locations to shoot from in London, and I’ve included some additional resources at the end of the post to give you even more ideas.

One up front tip though - if you want to save money on getting in to the attractions on this list, grab yourself a London Pass, which both saves you money and time on all the best attractions in London (read our full review of it here). Now, let’s get on with:

The Best Photography Locations in London

1. Tower Bridge

Best Photography locations London Tower bridge and river Thames

Definitely up there as one of my favourite bridges in the world, Tower Bridge is marvellous to photograph both during the day…

Tower Bridge and the Tower of London at night

… and at night, as a long exposure. It’s also good from both sides of the river, although if you go to the south bank then you can frame it with the Tower of London as well, which is nice. There is plenty of space to stand along both sides of the river, so you shouldn’t struggle to find a space. The closest tube stops are Tower Hill, or London Bridge.

HMS Belfast and the city of London at night 2

Since you’re already here and on the south bank, you can just pan your camera to the left to get a great shot of HMS Belfast and some of the skyscraper’s that make up the “City of London”.Vanguard tripod in front of tower bridge at night

And here’s my gear taking those shots. There’s a part of the footpath here that has a little alcove where you can set up so as to get a nice clear shot without having to include the path or railings, which is nice.

Now, let’s head over to the other side of the river, and visit:

2. The Tower of London

White tower in Tower of London UK

Two things to be aware of in London. First, the weather can change mind-bogglingly quickly. I got the above shot about five minutes before the below shot, and you can see how dramatically quickly the light and clouds have changed!

White tower in Tower of london uk

The other thing to keep in mind are the crowds. Attractions like the Tower of London get really busy. If you want to get relatively people-free shots like these, you have to do what I did, and get up early. If you arrive at the Tower of London as early as it opens (around 9am, check website for up to date hours), then you will get a good bit of time without too many people around. You might even get a bit of time with a Beefeater, who are very friendly folks, and will even pose for you if you ask them nicely:

Beefeater at the tower of London

As you can see from the shots, my favourite subject in the Tower of London is the White Tower. It’s photogenic from multiple angles, but my favourite place is to shoot it from near the entrance to the Crown Jewels, or, as with the case of the Beefeater above, with Tower Bridge in the background.

Vanguard tripod at tower of London

The closest tube to Tower Bridge is Tower Hill. The Tube is a great way to get around London – just make sure you pick up an Oyster card to benefit from the best fares. The centre of London is also very walkable, so do check if it might be quicker to walk before jumping on the tube – the tube map is not a good way to estimate walking distances!

3. Westminster Abbey

Moving down to the City of Westminster now, and London’s most famous church, home to Royal Weddings, Coronations (all of them since 1066!) and a whole host of famous dead people – Westminster Abbey.

Westminster Abbey london photography location

You’re not actually allowed to take photographs inside the Abbey, but that’s ok, because the outside is very photogenic. Unfortunately, the folks in charge of civil planning tend to ignore the needs of photographers, because there’s a rather inconveniently places road right in front of the Abbey’s two stunning towers.

Your options are to work with these towers, perhaps in-corporating an iconic London Bus or taxi into your composition, and shoot from across the road.

Photography location london westminster abbey

Or, you can get up close and personal with a wide angle lens, and shoot through the bars in front of the abbey to get shots like this.

Towers of Westminster abbey London


Towers of Westminster abbey London 2

Whatever you choose, you should get some photos you’re happy with! The closest tube stops are Westminster or St. James’s Park.

4. Houses of Parliament

Just across from Westminster Abbey are the incredible Houses of Parliament Building, with that iconic clock tower, home to the giant bell – Big Ben.

Houses of parliament at night long exposure with Vanguard

My favourite place to shoot the Houses of Parliament is from the other side of the river, or atop Westminster Bridge. Here you can get some excellent long-exposure shots of passing traffic (try and frame a passing bus if you can!), with the light lines leading your eye to the Houses of Parliament themselves.

shooting houses of parliament london from south bank photography location

You can also get some fabulous shots from along the South Bank – just position yourself somewhere between the London Eye and Westminster Bridge, and you should be able to find something fun. The lights that run along the south bank are pretty cool as foreground material!

Houses of Parliament from South Bank

The closest tube is going to be either Westminster or Waterloo. Now, since you’re here, turn to your left, and you’ll find:

5. The London Eye

Another London landmark, the London Eye offers great potential for photography. My favourite place to shoot it from is standing on Westminster Bridge – the same spot I like to shoot the Houses of Parliament from. You get a great view of the River Thames, and as the day fades away, the wheel lights up beautifully.

London eye blue hour long exposure landscape

London Eye from Waterloo Bridge

The other option for shooting the London Eye is of course from inside the London Eye! This ride offers an incredible view over the London Skyline, particularly at sunset,  and is very much worth doing. Just be aware that you have to shoot hand-held – you can’t set up a tripod inside the pod.

London eye at sunset london

The closest tube for visiting the London Eye is either Waterloo, or Westminster.

6. The Shard

Last on my list, and another one where you unfortunately can’t use a tripod if you go inside – the Shard. A relatively new addition to the London Skyline, the Shard offers an incredible view of the London skyline from far above the ground. Like the London Eye, it’s also best visited for sunset - prebook your tickets here to be sure to get the right time slot for your visit.

View from the shard london at sunset

You might find yourself struggling with reflections up here. My tip is to head up to the second floor where there is only one pane of glass rather than two, which cuts back on the reflections. Then, hold your camera lens right up against the glass, which will cut out pretty much all the reflections. If you have a sun-hood fitted, you’ll want to take it off.

London shard and HMS Belfast

Finally, you can get great shots of the Shard without actually going up it! This shot above was taken from around about the same place that I shot the first picture of Tower Bridge from – on the riverbank just outside the Tower of London. Here again you can see HMS Belfast parked up, and a variety of other buildings to lend scale.

More Photography Locations in London & Resources!

This post has only touched on some of my favourite photography Locations in London, all accessible over a weekend of photography. Obviously, I’ve not been able to fit all my favourites in, and some notable locations including St. Paul’s Cathedral and the Millennium Bridge, Buckingham Place, Trafalgar Square, Camden, Borough Market, Primrose Hill and more have fallen by the wayside in this round up.

But, if you’ve got more time on your hands and want some more ideas for where to shoot in London, then here are some excellent resources to help you get the shots you want.

  • This list from Nomadic Pursuits of 27 Photo Spots in London will give you plenty more ideas to add to the above, from iconic subjects
  • The official Visit London folks have ten spots for a photo opportunity, geared more towards good spots to get a photo of yourself in
  • If you’re looking for something a bit different, here’s Timeout’s Guide to 8 locations that look nothing like London
  • If you want to dabble in a bit of street photography, here’s a guide to six of the best spots!
  • If you want something to take along with you, here’s a Kindle book that goes into epic detail on the best photography spots in London, covering nearly everywhere you could possibly want to go!
  • If you are looking for a tripod (and if you’re serious about your photography, you absolutely should have one!), then Vanguard have an excellent range. The VEO system I was using for this shoot is specifically designed for travel, meaning it’s super-light and easy to use, plus they won’t break the bank.
  • Not photography related, but if you are in London for a few days and want to get some sight-seeing in, check out the London Pass for a great deal on sight-seeing and transport!
  • If you're in the market for a new camera, check out my definitive guide to the best travel camera, with something for every budget
  • My other photography location guides, to get you the best shot in destinations around the world
  • Finally, if you're looking to learn more about photography, I run an online travel photography course which covers everything I know about photography, plus you get one on one feedback directly from me as you go! Check it out and let me know if you have any questions.

Travel Photography Course

Enjoy, and don’t forget if you are inspired to invest in a tripod (an essential part of your photography gear!) you can save 20% on everything in the Vanguard US store. Just enter the coupon code FindingTheUniverse (all one word, case sensitive) at checkout to get the discount! Alternatively, Amazon have an excellent selection of Vanguard products on their store.

Tips for the best photography Locations in London, UK when visiting on a shorter trip such as on a weekend or just for a few days, with further links and advice for a prolonged trip

I often get asked what gear I use for my photos. Check out my full Photography Gear post to find out!

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