Derek Robertson, April 2018
Few cities in the world are as instantly recognizable or as photogenic as London. With parks, views, a river, monuments, plenty of towers and bridges, and a rich, vibrant mix of cultures, the capital is manna for budding snappers. And one of the best places to capture the capital in all its iconic glory is the South Bank. Here are the ten places to snap some Instagram gold.
The London Eye
Whether you’re on it, under it, or simply including it in a vista of the city, the London Eye makes for some of the most beautiful Instagram shots. If you come in the evening, you can catch a shot of the eye, the sunset, and the Houses of Parliament – they’re directly across the river – from the Golden Jubilee Bridge.
Royal Festival Hall
There are many interesting shots to be had around the Royal Festival Hall, from the brutalist concrete exterior to the spacious, elegant interior (including the stunning concert hall itself). But for a true riot of colour and movement, head to the Southbank Skate space, directly underneath the Queen Elizabeth Hall, to see all manner of boarders, BMXers, and graffiti artists unite.
Twice a day, as the tide recedes, London’s only beach reveals itself. Small but beautiful, it’s easy to climb down and play around on Gabriel’s beach, as well as bagging some stunning, river-level shots of the capital. In the summer, sand artists create stunning temporary installations as well – bring a bucket and spade and build your own!
It’s not just the incredible art that’s worth shooting at the Tate; if interiors are your thing, head to the Turbine Hall, the vast, iconic space on the ground floor, or visit the top floor café for some of the most amazing views over the city. It’s also an impressive building from the outside too, especially at dusk, the green glow from the building’s top floors contrasting wonderfully with a rose pink sky.
The Anchor Pub
The lovingly restored red brick façade and bright red window and doorframes make this riverside pub extremely photogenic. It doesn’t need to be particularly long warm for the terrace to get packed either, and when they put the Union Jack bunting out, it all adds up to a uniquely British snapshot (the beers are great too).
This complex houses a reconstruction of The Globe Theatre, an Elizabethan playhouse best known for its association with The Bard. It was opened in 1997, and is as faithful a replica as possible, constructed entirely of oak and boasting London’s only genuine thatched roof. As pretty inside as out, few London landmarks look so quintessentially English.
This steel suspension bridge essentially links the Tate with St. Paul’s Cathedral, and is aligned to give a clear view of St Paul’s south façade, perfectly framed by the bridge supports. If you want to try and get the iconic shot with no one else in the picture, you’re going to have to turn up extremely early in the morning; otherwise settle for a more side-on view that includes more of the north bank.
The tallest building in both the UK and the European Union, The Shard dominates not just the skyline around the South Bank but the capital as a whole. Best viewed from the streets around London Bridge train station for the full or Mordor effect, you can also ascend 68 floors to the viewing platform for a full 360 degree, 40-mile vista of the capital.
And if you’re by The Shard, it would be remiss not to pop into the nearby Borough Food Market. Housed under the railway lines, the market specializes in the best of British meat and artisanal baked and dairy goods, with many of the stall selling snacks and full meals as well. A heady mix of colour and smells, it’s the ideal place to work on your close ups.
Not many city rivers can boast an actual warship as an attraction, but in the shape of HMS Belfast – a permanently moored, nine-deck World War II warship – the Thames can. Now a museum, the whole ship can be explored, revealing a plethora of details, but for a truly great exterior shot, be sure to get Tower Bridge in the background.
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