Best free photography spots around London

There are so many fantastic photo opportunities around our capital city. Whether it’s taking to the streets for a night-time lightpainting shoot, exploring the eclectic street-art in Camden, or simply ticking off the major landmarks - there are almost limitless opportunities to get creative amidst this buzzing metropolis.

We understand that your surrounding environment is massively influential when motivating and inspiring your Photography students, which is why we have created our top recommended free photography spots around London - so you don’t miss anything on your next trip!

Check out our top 10 ultimate photography spots around London below…

1. Hit the major landmarks

London’s architecture is ideal for photography students, blending a unique combination of Gothic and classic-style buildings with sleek modern architecture. To give you an idea of where to start, we recommend these top landmarks to tick off your photography list…

  • Palace of Westminster
  • The Shard
  • Tower Bridge (HINT: Try using a tripod with long exposure at night)
  • St Paul's Cathedral (HINT: Try visiting at sunset for the best light)
  • Buckingham Palace

2. Leadenhall Market

Leadenhall Market is one of London’s oldest Victorian markets, home to stunning architectural grandeur. The ornate roof structure is painted in beautiful shades of green, maroon and cream; with cobbled floors that were designed in 1881 by Sir Horace Jones.

The market is fairly easy to photograph during the day, but be cautious of the lack of light when the sun has disappeared, as it can get dark and unlit very quickly.

(This is also where the exterior scenes of Diagon Alley were filmed in the first Harry Potter film, so it is well worth a visit if you are already near Gracechurch Street!)

3. The Tate Modern and the Tate Britain

The exterior of The Tate Modern and Tate Britain buildings boast striking architecture that is an excellent subject for experimenting photography students.

The Tate Modern is also a great museum to visit for those studying art or photography. It is also now home to an observation deck on the tenth floor, which is free to access. From the lookout, you can enjoy views over the city and river, which makes it ones of the best places to go in London at sunset and well into blue hour.

4. Neal’s Yard

Neal’s Yard is the perfect location for students that like lots of colour in their photos! The little-known treasure is almost a ‘secret photography spot’ in London; home to a micro-village bursting with independent restaurants, cafes and shops. Tucked away down a side street in Seven Dials, Neal’s Yard is full of quirky architecture, colourful décor and lush plants.

Find Neal’s Yard when you get off at Covent Garden underground station and then it’s only a short walk – also make sure to head there early before it gets too busy.

5. St James’ Park and Green Park

London has lots of parks offering a well-earned escape from the urban jungle. However, St James’ Park and the nearby Green Park are the two that stand out for us.

These parks make an ideal location to practice portraits against the natural backgrounds, as well as beautiful woodland spaces for nature and macro photography shots. St James’ Park in particular also boasts a beautiful pond that runs the length of the park, which can be perfect for reflections and landscape images.

Both parks are also located in the centre of the city and are very close to Buckingham Palace, so it’s well worth visiting if you are already in the area.

6. The London Underground

The London underground is the world’s oldest underground system, hosting a choice of gritty urban architecture and sleeker newer stations dotted around the city.

The weaving tunnels on some of the northern line stations make excellent subjects, especially when you choose to play with the light, colours and perspectives available to you. In particular, the newest section of the Jubilee line has some great locations to photograph, including the London Bridge and Canary Wharf tube stations.

Encourage your students to take note of the symmetry and the examples of leading lines. Utilising these two basic elements will make for a collection of visually pleasing images for your students to be proud of.

You should also consider visiting:

  • Embankment
  • Green Park
  • King’s Cross
  • Waterloo

7. Piccadilly Circus

Piccadilly Circus is a brilliant area for night shoots, but also quite difficult to photograph due to the bright screens against the dark surroundings. We recommend using HDR for good exposure, as well as utilising any puddles and reflections that can add an extra dimension to your photos.

If it has not rained, you could always create a similar effect with a bottle of water by spilling some liquid on the floor in foreground of your shot.

In this often tricky location, another technique we recommend is to increase your ISO slightly at night, as a long exposure doesn’t really work on the screens as they are constantly changing! Despite its challenges, Piccadilly Circus is well worth visiting if you are keen to push your student’s night-photography skills, as well as encouraging them to think on their feet!

8. Sky Garden

Sky Garden is one of the newest and trendiest places to visit in London. Whether it’s to dine, explore the gardens or simply soak up the incredible views – this is an excellent location for your students to experience.  

Not only will you get panoramic 360 views of the city, but you can also explore London’s highest public garden and its exquisitely landscaped flora and fauna.

You have to book tickets in advance for Sky Garden, but it is free to visit.

9. Most ‘instagrammable’ spots!

Red telephone boxes – There are plenty of these iconic red telephone boxes scattered across London, but a particularly popular spot is near Westminster Palace.

Kings Cross light tunnel – Kings Cross has a multi-coloured light tunnel that is very ‘Instagrammable’. You’ll find it on the underground walkways that connect St Pancras to Kings Cross Station. The interior of the waiting hall is also good to photograph as it has an amazing ceiling.

Camden town – There are so many locations around Camden town that are perfect Instagram spots. Whether you focus on its diverse collection of street art, the canal or its quirky bijou cafes – there is so much vibrancy and colour in this neighbourhood!

Abbey Road – The location of the famous Beatles album cover has become a tourist attraction, with fans replicating the photo with their friends.

Leake street – Often referred to as Banksy tunnel with its famous graffiti walls, you can take photos of the street art or use those walls as a background for your urban-portraits.

Tailor your trip

If you’re planning a London photography trip, our team of Tour Solvers can help organise your next adventure. Simply request a quote online here.