Best Cities for Photography
Whether looking for a smaller town to photograph intimate settings or a bustling metropolis to shoot some interesting street photography, being in a city with a lot of fluidity and movement is essential to capturing the essence of a group of people, and sometimes an entire culture. While many cities have great photo-ops, these cities have the best surrounds, residents and cultural experiences that make for excellent photography and are the 10 best cities for photography.
The quintessential photographic city is Paris. With a fantastic mix of history, culture and uniquely Parisian architecture, France’s capital excels as a micro and macro photographic favorite. This city’s real offerings for photographers continue past the Eiffel Tower and down the Champs-Elysees, where people-watching makes for fantastic fashion photography. Bring black and white film to the famous Montmarte neighborhood, made notoriously famous by the Moulin Rouge, for some excellent unusual opportunities. Process and print the film yourself to create a contrasty world that is as dark and mysterious as Paris’s turn of the century red-light past.
For a fairytale landscape unlike any other, visit Prague’s Old Town and the St. Vitus Cathedral at Prague Castle. Like the set of a movie, this city’s cobblestone streets wind through the city to reveal the beautiful paradoxes that only a country at a unique point in it’s history can, and the clash of eastern and western Europe is no more apparent and strangely accessible than it is here.
To capture an urban landscape that is part Shanghai and part Honolulu, visit Hong Kong. The green of a tropical island meets the steel of a large city, and a unique history and culture is revealed effortlessly through street markets and the busy downtown. Victoria’s Peak grants visitors a panorama of an unusual and foreign landscape that seems to be unlike any other place on earth.
Cairo may be most famous for its Pyramids of Giza, but this large city’s heart sits right on the Nile, which the city was built around. This city sits at the intersection of the Middle East, North Africa and southern Europe and provides a unique view of a country with thousands of years of history, and residents who are proud of their ancestry. Every city block in Cairo is packed with history; relaxing with a cup of coffee near the Khan el-Khalil Market may be the best place to capture the essence of this bustling city. Many photo opportunities can be found very inexpensively, making Cairo a very affordable place to snag some great shots.
Channel famous street photographer Weegee in a New York City photo-op by spending time on the streets in the evening to capture the essence of the New York lifestyle. On Manhattan Island, a wealth of different experiences await; a visit to the posh Madison Avenue provides a different viewpoint than spending time in Harlem or Little Italy. Use the neighborhood differences as a photojournalistic advantage.
For the best chance of capturing Berlin’s gray remnants of communism against a blue sky, visit in the spring or summer. No city in the world has a more colorful recent history, and the divide between East and West Germany is not only still visible, but humbly respected and reflected in new architecture to old opinion. Berlin’s Kreuzberg is the home of Checkpoint Charlie and a walk down Friederichstrasse to Unter den Linden is a voyage through the world’s recent memory. An excellent panorama of the city’s different colors can be had by venturing to the top of the Fernsehturm, or TV tower.
Everyone’s favorite funky city, San Francisco, is a photographer’s varietal paradise. The Wharf and Ghirardelli Square provide stunning views of the Pacific Ocean, while historic Haight, the pretty Marina and sophisticated Knob Hill show that San Francisco is more than just a pretty face, but has a deep soul. Funky Castro is a night photographer’s dream and on a weekend, will provide some excellent art-nouveau-esque street photography.
A short train and bus ride from downtown Zurich, Vaduz, Liechtenstein is a nature photographer’s dream. Spring and summer months yield stunning yellow-flowered backdrops to a centuries-old castle that is perched on top of a hill. In a country where visitors can walk from the northern to southern border, opportunities for outstanding beautiful images with very little effort are surprisingly plentiful.
The French Riviera is stunning year-round, but at no time during the year is it more star-studded than during the Cannes Film Festival. The Mediterranean beaches of Cannes provide an incredible palette of color for actors, directors and producers from around the world. The Red Carpet events are surprisingly accessible; bring a huge mounted flash and a dazzling digital or film camera to fit in with the many paparazzi who flock to the beach every May.
As the only city in the world that sits on two different continents, Istanbul, Turkey is uniquely positioned to provide an interesting cultural and historical perspective on the development of both Europe and Asia. Take a cruise down the Bosphorous, visit the Blue Mosque and the famous Egyptian Bazaar for insight to daily life in a city where two different cultures collided centuries ago.