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6 Tips for Urban Photography

By , 22 November 2018

Urban photography is one of the most rewarding ways to begin your portfolio, or even (for more experienced photographers) try something a bit different. We’ve outlined 6 ways that you can make the most out of your time in the concrete jungle.

Go and Explore

Cities are always bigger than they seem. Even if you’re photographing a city you know really well, find an area or landmark you’ve never been to before and explore it, let your feet just wander without really thinking. You’ll be amazed at how often you can stumble across a great location to shoot. If you’re photographing a city you’ve never been to before, this may take more planning. Try and work out a walking route through the centre that encompasses as many different areas as possible. For example, if there’s a financial district, a park area and a harbour, then seeing all these areas will give you a much more rounded picture of a city rather than just sticking to the well-trodden tourist trails.

Explore the City

A wide Angle Lens is Your Friend

There’s often so much going on in cities that it can be difficult to frame a shot up and get everything we want in it. The wide-angle lens is a huge asset here as not only does it allow you to cram as much detail in your composition as possible, but when you’ve limited space, the wide angle just opens the shot up like a Tardis and gives you a great perspective on alleyways, streets and tall structures.

Wide Angle Shot of City

Look for the Unusual View

It can be easy to just take photos at eye-level, but cities are vertical playgrounds too. Use height to your advantage, climb to the tallest or most interesting structure you can find, but conversely, go as low as you can too. I’m not suggesting you go down to the sewers or anything, but there are some great cities that will offer fantastically different angles with below ground level streets and waterways (I’m looking at you Venice and Edinburgh).

The Unusual View

Embrace the Quirks

Every city is unique; now it’s all well and good saying that here but finding what makes a city tick can take days, weeks or even longer. Talking to locals may be the quickest way to get to the soul of a city without living there yourself. For some cities its quirk may be the weather, a sport or tradition, or even just a way of thinking; but once you’ve cracked open its hidden secrets, you’ll understand a lot more about where your next shoot will come from.

Look for Quirks

Don't Be Afraid to Try Something Different

This point may seem counter-intuitive when compared to the last one. However, you can use the two together. The point is to not be afraid to do something that people wouldn’t usually associate with the city. For example, if the city is particularly vast and has lots of open space, try and find a cramped, or narrow area of the city to shoot. The point here is to adjust people’s perceptions of places that they may know very well. The more you can disrupt what people assume about urban areas, the better.

Try Something Different

Use The People

I’ll prefix this point by saying it’s obviously really important that you get permission from anyone whose photo you’ve taken. Admin aside, the faces of the people who live in the area your filming will not doubt give you an added dimension to your shoots. Whether this is a collection of commuters on a street, or a group of karaoke singers in a bar in the small hours of the morning, any opportunity to photograph people experiencing urban life is something that should be grasped with both hands and held tightly.


Whichever urban playground you’re off to next, make sure you’ve got adequate cover for your camera and its equipment. Head to our camera insurance page, and take a look at what we can do for you.