Forget Paris, New York, and Tokyo for street photography, they’re overrated. (Ignore me. I’m just jealous I don’t live there.) But as a British street photographer who cut his teeth in London, I’m going to fly the flag and say it’s the best spot in the world for making street photographs. Be mindful; London is huge and there are many areas that all have their own story to tell. To help (because I’m kind like that), I’m going to break them down. Here are the six best places for street photography beginners to shoot in London…
If I’m shopping I can’t stand Oxford Street. However, if I’m shooting, it’s a completely different story. Why is Oxford Street great for street photography? Simple: foot fall. Millions of people visit the shopping hub of the capital on a weekly basis, making it the perfect spot to find some photographic action.
What I like most about shooting here is how crowded it is. It forces you to get in nice and tight, creating an intimacy between you and your scene. Be prepared to be budged around a lot, but this is great for getting you accustomed to the hustle and bustle experience whilst out shooting street photography.
Who would like some tasty Indian food? Not only is Brick Lane known for its long line of Indian restaurants, but it’s also considered by many as the hub of street photography in London. From the graffiti on the walls to the authentic market stalls, there’s plenty of sites on Brick Lane to give your images further context. Not to mention the variety of people that visit the area. From rockers to hipsters; and from punks to your best mate’s grandma, you’ll never be short of interesting subjects to capture.
Notting Hill/Portobello Road
Outsiders may know Notting Hill from the 1996 romantic blockbuster starring Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant. And whilst we’re always happy to hear our readers have found love, that’s not why you’re going there.
The area is famed for its multicolored houses, shops, and stalls, and is pretty much the blueprint for upper-middle-class Britain. It has such good energy about the place that you will be motivated to make street photographs. People generally expect others to be taking candid photos in the area, meaning you don’t have to worry about your practice being frowned upon.
If you’re feeling extra confident, I advise you to visit during Carnival weekend. You can eat some jerk, perfect your twerk, and get to work on creating interesting images – you won’t be short of colorful frames, trust me.
Tooting is a little out of the main center of London. Only a 20-minute tube ride away, it is home of a large Indian and Pakistani community. It’s extremely up and coming, and one of my favorite spots for some gritty, cultural street photography. You have two huge markets to enjoy, plenty of people pass through, and it’s a great way of getting images that aren’t full of your typical white, middle-class Brit. The people in the area are extremely friendly so you won’t feel awkward pointing your camera in their face.
Welcome to hipster mecca. Shoreditch offers beautiful, cobbled roads, small and compact streets, and pretty much everyone who shops at Urban Outfitters. It’s the creative hub of London, so you’re going to feel right at home roaming around with your camera and creating your art. It’s also the perfect warm-up spot before hitting Brick Lane as both areas are within walkable distance from each other.
People really think about what they’re wearing in this area. Making it ideal for getting some eye-catching subjects.
You can’t go to London and not shoot street photography in Camden. Goths and Punks are out in galore; the kind of people who have piercings in places you never knew they could, and more colors in their hair than you would find in a rainbow. And with their enthusiastic appearance, comes enthusiastic personalities. People are not boring in this area, they bring with them an abundance of energy. So you need to ensure you bring your energy with you, as you’re going to have to be ultra-focused to ensure you don’t miss a shot.
Final Thoughts on Street Photography in London
If you’re new to street photography, you’re eventually going to hear someone say, “the best street photographers find great moments in the most ordinary places.” And whilst that sounds lovely, it’s kind of pretentious. When you’re new you’re going to have that raw enthusiasm. You need to mirror that in the places you start shooting. The above areas are full of life, full of stories, and full of energy, making them the perfection locations for you to begin your journey in the wonderful world of street photography.