I not exactly sure how I stumbled across Jon and Tina Reed’s photography, but the moment I did I realized that it was a stroke of good fortune.
If I remember correctly, the first place I saw their photography might have been via their Facebook Fan page, A Year of London. Their blog is Nomadic Vison and what drew me to them was their current photography project, where they are highlighting all of the great photography in London.
As I have been spending a fair bit of time there, and have already told you that it is a not only a very comfortable place for me, but also a spot I like to photograph myself, I thought I’d ask them to do a guest post where they could give you a step-by-step guide to photographing this great city.
I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
London is a world-class destination with something to impress even the most discerning traveller. For a photographer, it is a playground with endless photographic opportunities. I’ve just completed month two of my year’s guide to Photographing London. Despite taking a year, I’m going to try guide you through taking photos of London in just one day.
We’ll start at dawn, before sunrise when London is asleep. This is the perfect time to photograph the iconic sites without the crowds. At this time, it can be difficult to get around, so it will help you to be based in zone 1, along the river Thames. The Tower Bridge is the perfect dawn location – it is lit by floodlights, which will help it stand out against a pastel sky. Whilst photographing the bridge, turn your focus along the river towards the Shard, catching the reflections of the skyscraper in the river.
Just before the sun crosses the horizon, get onto the underground and head over to Westminster Station. Rush across the Westminster Bridge to arrive opposite the Palace of Westminster just in time to capture the first rays of sun striking the palace and the world-famous clock, Big Ben.
Once the light gets too bright and contrasty for photography, head back to Westminster Station and take the district line to Kew Gardens. On your arrival you’ll feel like you’ve stepped out of the city and into the idyllic English village.
Pop into the Bread Stall to pick up breakfast and your choice of caffeine supplement. The breakfast calories will help power a speedy trip through the Royal Botanical Gardens. By now, the light will be challenging for photography, so use the shady areas to flatten the contrast. Even a whirlwind trip through Kew Gardens will take you up to lunch.
Head back to the underground and get out at London Bridge. If you’ve picked the right day, street vendors in the Borough Food Market will be serving lunch. Whilst looking for the perfect treat, keep your camera out as the area is great for street photography. For the coffee lovers, don’t leave the area without sampling Monmouth Coffee – the queues are much shorter if you order beans to taken home.
After lunch, the light will be horrible for any photography in the daylight. This is the time to explore London’s hidden interior architecture. The Astor House at 2 Temple Place was built by a wealthy American who loved all things British. It is a beautiful example of lavish Victorian architecture and the perfect escape from the harsh daylight.
I’ve now got two options for you:
Option 1 – The East
The old shipping yards have been rejuvenated and are now referred to as the Docklands. From Temple, head to Bank Station and jump onto the DLR to Canning Town. Canning Town leads onto the Royal Victoria Docks. Here you can experience London’s only beach, complete with a wakeboarding course. The area is great for photography with a mix of converted warehouses, old shipping cranes and interesting residential sites. Take the Emirates Air Line across the Thames and photograph the O2 from the sky.
From the 02, take a bus to Greenwich town centre. From the town centre, it is a quick walk to the Greenwich Naval Colleges. Take a few moments to appreciate the Painted Hall which is a dinner hall designed by Christopher Wren and it is full of interesting paintings by James Thornhill.
From the Painted Hall, it is a short walk up the hill to the Greenwich Observatory Point. From this point, there is an amazing view over the Baroque Naval Colleges contrasting with the modern architecture of Canary Wharf. Enjoy the sunset and watch out of the Meridian Laser, a beam of light projected from the Observatory Point.
Option 2 – The West
Take the underground line from Temple to Victoria and then take the over ground-line to Battersea Park Rail station. Battersea Park is a large park, that is worth exploring, but because you’re taking photos, head straight to the Peace Pagoda – a large Buddhist monument built on the banks of the Thames River. The contrast of the Buddhist architecture and English park makes for an interesting subject.
From the Peace Pagoda, walk along the Thames River and cross the Chelsea Bridge. The bridge is a great location to photograph the Battersea Power Station – an iconic London site – that is possibly best known for being on the cover of a Pink Floyd album.
After watching the sun set at the power station, get onto the underground at Sloan Square and head to Black Friars Station. From the station, it is a short walk to the Oxo Tower. Few restaurants in London have a better view. Take in London at twilight whilst enjoying a cocktail and then settle down for a meal to top the day off.
The Perfect Day
From this guide you can see how much you can actually do in one day in London, provided you have the stamina and energy to get through it. Try to pick a day when you know the sun will be out as it helps to make the day more enjoyable and leads to better photography.