Our 2021 guide to some of the Best Locations in London for Street Photography
London is a diverse and multicultural city like no other, with a variety of boroughs, neighborhoods, and people. It blends the historic with modern architecture seamlessly and is a melting pot of cultures and diversity. So for us, London offers some of the best street photography opportunities around every corner. Whether you are interested in Black & White urban photography with a heavy architectural feel or bright colourful busy backdrops focusing on people, you are sure to find what you’re looking for.
So we wanted to pull together a list of our top London Street Photography locations we’ve visited over the years. The list is in no particular order and simply our guide to help you find some cool locations if you’re planning to head into London for the first time, or even if you live in London. Often it’s easy to overlook how much is right there on your doorstep to explore and inspire you. We really believe that even if you’ve been to the same location 10 times, there are always some new and interesting moments or people that you can capture on any given day.
List of Top Street Photography Locations In London
- Whitechapel & Brick Lane
- London Bridge
- Trafalgar Square
- Covent Garden
- London Underground
However, one thing I wanted to mention before we go any further is that you have to keep in mind that street photography can happen anywhere really. You don’t need a particular backdrop or location to capture good street photos. Sure an inspiring location can help get the creative juices flowing, but essentially a touch of good light and interesting subjects/compositions is enough to allow you to shoot street.
Taking over 10 years to complete The Barbican in London is described as one of London’s best examples of brutalist architecture. (Brutalist is a style of architecture that has become synonymous with concrete). The controversial site was voted the ugliest building in 2003, but for many, it is still one of the UK’s architectural treasures. Receiving Grade II listed status in 2001 it is a truly unique site. Inundated with geometric lines and pockets of light, it gives you so many opportunities for urban street photography. There’s no doubt that The Barbican is one of our favourite locations in London for street. The number of people passing by can sometimes be a little slow, depending on what day/time you visit, however, if you’re patient enough to find your spot and wait it out, it will totally pay off! Check out our project Photography at The Barbican in London for some more examples of the cool location.
While most people know Waterloo for its huge train station, the area itself tends to get overshadowed by the South Bank (which we’ll come on to so keep reading) when it comes to street photography. And although the area mostly attracts tourists, it offers so many opportunities to capture interesting frames. Also if you’re style of street photography attracts you to capturing candid portraits then the skate park alone is worth the visit.
*Helpful Tip* Just make sure you respect the skaters and don’t get in their way while photographing as it’s dangerous and does annoy them! The aim is to be quick and discrete and if you want to take a street portrait, just ask!
Whitechapel & Brick Lane
Whitechapel in the East End of London has historically been considered as one of the dodgiest parts of London and famous for being the streets that Jack the Ripper stalked. But obviously, things have moved on from this and now Whitechapel has become a cool neighborhood surrounded by great pubs and coffee shops. On market days the street is packed with interesting faces and offers some brilliant opportunities to capture candid portraits and layered frames enveloping the hustle and bustle of the area. As an added bonus Brick Lane is only a short bus ride away so you can double up on locations easily and tour the amazing street art and subtly incorporate this into your photos.
Check out our project Stay Focused as published with Fujilove Magazine to see a few more frames we captured over in Whitechapel.
London Bridge is one of the oldest and most iconic areas of London. Home to both its namesake London Bridge and Tower Bridge, the skyline is dominated by The Shard. Known for historical, maritime and culinary options, it is popular with tourists and locals making it a particular favourite for street photography. We specifically love the area around King’s College London – Guy’s Campus, offering some really cool backdrops (shown in the examples below).
Also Borough Market is only across the other side of the station leading to South Bank which means if you plan it right you can walk right through to Covent Garden, with minimal effort. This route will lead you past so many brilliant locations and photo opportunities. The market area is especially good for impromptu street portraits, so if you enjoy meeting people and making a connection before taking their portrait, feel free to say hello, politely introduce yourself as a photographer, and when your subject is happy to be photographed, go for it. However, if you prefer a more candid approach, there’s enough hustle and bustle for you to go unnoticed while you’re photographing.
*Note* When you’re passing through Borough Market, make sure to grab a coffee from Monmouth Coffee. Pretty much the best London has to offer! You can thank me later.
We’ve mentioned South Bank a few times in this post already and if you know the area, you’ll know why. Located minutes from Covent Garden, Trafalgar Square, and the Houses of Parliament, South Bank is a dynamic location at the heart of London’s cultural and creative scene. The South Bank has an incredible history of architecture, culture, and regeneration. Home to the South Bank Centre the area is ideal for street photography. In fairness, South Bank covers quite a vast area of London, but to me, I’d refer to this as the walk from Clink Street leading right round to Tate Modern – which in itself is a brilliant location for street photography that I’m yet to explore.
Depending on the time of year, the light during sunset can be amazing right around Blackfriars Bridge. So if you like to seek out pockets of light, the underpasses and bridges in this location can be awesome for this.
Farringdon is the small area around Farringdon Station in the southern part of the London Borough of Islington. It certainly isn’t the most well-known area for street photography and mostly an area for locals that live or work in the area. However, neighbouring the well-known street photography hub of Kings Cross, it isn’t too far off the beaten track if you fancy a challenge. The area is most famous for the Smithfield Meat Market and nightclub Fabric. So whether you are wandering down Charterhouse Street full of interesting venues for foodies or checking out the Leather Lane Market, you are sure to find some interesting subjects to capture. Either way, once you’ve finished exploring this area, you can easily head on over to the Barbican, or the opposite direction to Waterloo.
Soho in the West End of London covers just over one square mile and is packed with vibrant, exciting streets that are easy to wander around on foot. A well-known part of London for entertainment and socialising it attracts a diversity of people from professionals, tourists, and students making it a fantastic location for street photography. In particular, Soho is most well known for night street photography with its bright neons and bustling nightlife. It’s also right in the middle of some cool areas like China Town, Sharftbury Avenue, and Covent Garden making it really easy to get around.
*Helpful Tip* night-time street photography is best approached using a fast telephoto prime lens like 85mm or 135mm to give you an opportunity to compose an interesting frame with nice isolation and soft-focus drop-off without causing a distraction to your subject. Of course, any focal length can work, depending on your style, but we’ve always found this our go-to when it comes to night-time street photography.
Trafalgar Square is a public square in the City of Westminster, surrounded by historic buildings and cultural spaces such as museums and galleries. Along with Piccadilly Circus which is famous for its huge video display and neon signs on the corner of a building. They are both normally super crowded locations which work really well for street photographers that like to build lots of layers with their frames or enjoy quite chaotic scenes.
Straddling the boroughs of Camden and the City of Westminster, Covent Garden is one of London’s most famous locations. Another popular area filled with shopping, culture, and entertainment. There is no shortage of things to do and see in Covent Garden. From tourists browsing the stalls at the famous Apple and East Colonnade markets to watching a variety of street entertainers at the ever-bustling Covent Garden Piazza. This variety of entertainment and shopping attracts a real diversity of people, making it a great location in London for street photography. As an added bonus you’re moments away from Soho, Piccadilly Circus, and Leicester Square which are all awesome spots for street. Our Covid-19 Street Photography project took a really different outlook on this normally bustling area and shows the real impact government restrictions had on the flow of people passing through.
With its vibrant and lively atmosphere day and night, Camden Town is one of London’s most popular destinations, and you’re sure to catch something of interest. This melting pot of alternative shops and quirky locals, makes it super popular for those that enjoy capturing street portraits.
*Note* To get a real sense of the area, take a walk down towards Chalk Farm Station, then on through to Primrose Hill; if you get the timing right, you can capture some amazing photos of the city-scape.
The London Underground
No guide would be complete without mentioning the London Underground. Whilst Transport for London are not keen on it because of security concerns, they will tolerate it if you aren’t a nuisance. You can have so much fun touring the London underground network and even if you spent a whole 24 hours on the network, which I actually did in my London Underground Photography project, you’ll only just scratch the surface.
So there you have it, a list of what we think are the best street photography locations in London. Now I have absolutely no doubt that we’ve missed some really great locations in this list and even though I live and spend a lot of time as a street photographer in London I don’t think I’ll ever fully explore the city and run out of areas to explore. And even after I’ve gone around another 100 locations, I’m sure I’d have to start all over again. But if you have any areas that you’d like to recommend, please feel free to drop us a comment below and we’ll check it out for sure.