The UK is packed full of great locations to shoot impressive architecture and buildings, but they can sometimes be very easy to miss.
Architectural photography is an extremely popular genre of photography. To help you get started we have complied a post full of the best UK locations to take stunning architecture photos.
The Digital Splash Awards 2019 photography competition theme for June is Architectural photography! Enter your images for the chance to win up to £500 in Wilkinson Cameras vouchers.
Manchester, North West, England
Manchester is a very vibrant city with incredible photo opportunities around every single corner. There are several locations around Manchester for you to take stunning architectural images and new and exciting buildings are popping up every week, but here are some of of favourite locations to get you started.
Manchester Central Library has an ornate and grand design throughout. With a Roman architectural theme, it is an excellent place to start your photography in Manchester.
The next place we want to recommend is the Northern Quarter. It is packed full of superb buildings and vibrant street art. This is an excellent place to test out your street photography as well as capturing some of the vibrant and varied buildings.
Finally, head over to Ancoats, full of industrial heritage, where the old mill buildings transport you back in time to Manchester’s industrial past. Another excellent place for stunning architectural images.
Location: Manchester Central Library. Photographer: Michael D. Beckwith
Liverpool, North West, England
Liverpool is a city with over 2,500 listed building as well as brand new buildings. It is also regarded as one of the best cities for grandiose buildings. It is safe to say this is a wonderful location for architectural photography.
The Royal Liver Building dominates the city’s waterfront sky. The two Liver birds upon the building’s two clock towers make for perfect focal point in your images.
The Albert Dock was primarily built as a warehouse and docking system for ships, but it is now a tourist hotspot. It is also the first building in Britain to be built without wood. You can always capture stunning images here, day and night. The water allows you to play around with reflections and long exposures.
The Mann Island buildings are an excellent example of modern architecture in Liverpool. Their sharp lines and contrasting colours and textures make a great subject for photographers.
Location: Mann Island Buildings. Photographer: James Pinder.
Preston, North West, England
We may be a little bit biased, being based in Preston for over 30 years, but it certainly isn’t short of architectural beauty!
The Grade II listed Preston Bus Station is arguably Preston’s most debated about building. Its brutalist design is either loved or hated, but either way the building stands out in the city and makes for unique images.
The Grade I listed Harris Museum is brimming with neoclassical architecture. This building is stunning from all angles with excellent photography options inside as well as outside.
The last location we want to highlight in Preston is Brockholes Nature Reserve. It is based on the site of an old quarry and is the home of the floating visitor village, which is the first of its kind in the UK. The visitor village offers many opportunities for architectural photography, but also gives you the chance to shoot landscape and wildlife too.
Location: Preston Bus Station. Photographer: James Pinder.
York, North East, England
York is a walled city that was founded by ancient Romans. It is packed full of architectural beauties that are well worth photographing.
The York Minister dates back to medieval times and features stained glass, stonework and elaborate tombs. You can photograph the beautiful architecture inside and out and will always get excellent results.
The Shambles is a small street in the centre of York with an interesting past. With its leaning building and stunning architecture, this is a must-see photography location. Some of the buildings date back as far as the 14th century. Harry Potter fans will feel right at home here as it is widely reported that the Shambles was the inspiration for Diagon Alley in the films.
Finally, heading slightly north of York, we recommend a trip to Castle Howard. The Castle Howard Estate features over 200 listed buildings and monuments! The crowning glory is definitely Castle Howard istself. Though not actually a castle, this stately home is impressive inside and out with plenty to photograph. Many people will recognise it as the backdrop to the film (and earlier TV series) Brideshead Revisited.
Location: York Minster. Photographer: Andy Falconer.
Newcastle, North East, England
Newcastle is a centre of arts, business and science and is full of different architectural photography locations.
Located just outside of Newcastle is Belsay Hall. This is the host of two historical buildings, a tower house and neoclassical house. It is the perfect location if you are looking to take some unique images.
Newcastle cathedral is the location that holds the story of the entire city. With medieval architecture throughout this is an excellent location for dome stunning architectural images.
The last location to point out in Newcastle is the Angel of the North. Standing 20 metres tall and with unique architecture this is an excellent thing to photography in all kinds of weather.
Location: Angel of the North. Photographer: Bons YUE.
Edinburgh is a city full of architecture that you cannot help but stop and admire. If your taste is in gothic, modernist or medieval architecture, this is the location for you,
Edinburgh Castle is perched upon the volcanic Castle Rock. You can admire the building from afar, but it is even more impressive up close. This location is one not to be missed when it comes to shooting architectural photographs.
Holyrood Palace is both grand and large and is surrounded by landscaped gardens. With towers, spired and medieval architecture this is a location well worth a visit.
The final location we want to suggest visiting in Edinburgh is the Scottish Parliament building. It is designed to mirror the surrounding landscape of hills and crags. It has extremely different architectural than the buildings surrounding it. It is perfect for geometrical architectural images.
Location: Scottish Parliament Building. Photographer: Chris Flexen
London, Southern England
London, the capital of the UK is world-renowned for its architecture. With styles from new to old, gothic to art deco, traditional to contemporary and everything in between.
The Shard is one of London’s most famous skyscrapers. It is said to be inspired by London’s railway lines. You can take some stunning images of this magnificent piece of architecture, both day and night, from many angles.
The British Library has a brutalist architecture style and is a grade I listed building. With many angles to shoot from and a large courtyard to roam, the British Library offers many different architectural photography opportunities.
One final location that we want to talk about in London is St Paul’s Cathedral. It is one of London’s top attractions and is recognised worldwide for its design. Both inside and out, you will never be short of architectural photography chances. Did you know that St. Paul’s is the focal point of several “protected views” within London. These views have strict rules to prevent the view of the cathedral being blocked by new buildings and vegetation is maintained to ensure a clean line of sight at all times. One view from King Henry VIII’s Mound in Richmond Park has a clear view of St. Paul’s Cathedral… over 10 miles away! (We’d recommend a really long lens for this one!)
Location: St Paul’s Cathedral. Photographer: Dave Reed.
Oxford, Southern England
Oxford is a city that contains examples of every major architectural style in England. It has many examples of how the old can harmonise with the new. This is the perfect location to visit for unique architectural photography.
Magdalen College Tower is an excellent example of English Gothic architecture. With large pointed windows, detailed carvings and spires, you are sure to leave here with many detailed photographs.
Queen’s College is a stunning example of neoclassical architecture. It features symmetrical pediments that adorn the high street entrance to the college and the dome that caps the entrance. This is another location where you can capture detailed images up close.
Radcliffe Camera Library (sadly, not a library dedicated to cameras!) displays Palladian architecture beautifully. It has pillars and domes that repeat in symmetrical patterns. This location gives you yet another opportunity for detailed images whilst visiting Oxford.
Location: Queen’s College. Photographer: Delfi de la Rua.
Belfast, Northern Ireland
Belfast is a vibrant and buzzing city, with a unique history. This all resonates in it’s many architectural styles seen throughout the city.
The Titanic Belfast is a modern and iconic building. It is shaped like the ship’s bow and is deemed to be the height of the original Titanic. This is the perfect location to go if you are looking to take modern architectural images.
The Stormont Parliament Building is neoclassical in design and is a historical building. It is surrounded by tranquil regal lawns and beautiful flower beds. This building offers simple yet beautiful photography opportunities.
The Grand Opera House is beautiful both inside and out. It is designed with a cream cast stone and red brick exterior and curved balconies and turban-themed canopies inside. If you are looking for beautiful, detailed architecture this is the place to go.
Location: Titanic Belfast. Photographer: Christian Holzinger.
Cardiff, the capital city of Wales has a number of Architecture styles. It dates from Norman times to present day with its urban fabric largely being of Victorian design. This city offers you a number of photography opportunities.
The Wales Millennium Centre is the first location we want to highlight here. It comprises of one large theatre and two smaller halls with shops, bars and restaurants. It is home to the national orchestra and dance, opera, theatre and literature companies. One feature that is widely recognised is inscribed on the front of the dome. It is two poetic lines, by poet Gwyneth Lewis, written in both Welsh and English. This is a location not to miss.
The Senedd, also known as the National Assembly Building, is the home of the debating chamber and three committee rooms for the National Assembly for Wales. This building stand outs on the waters edge and is dominated by a steel roof and wood ceiling. It makes for some unique images.
The last location we want to highlight in Cardiff is the Cardiff Arcades. It is known as Cardiff’s finest asset, with a Victorian design. It is full of Victorian shop fronts, majestic windows and unique features. You won’t want to miss visiting this location.
Location: Wales Millennium Centre. Photographer: Simon Lewis
Local to You
Sometimes when shooting architectural photography, we look at locations far away from us even though we have beautiful architecture on our doorsteps. Your local architecture should never be overlooked.
Take a trip to your local pub and see what architecture that has to offer. A lot of pubs are housed within old Victorian buildings which means they have many architectural features to photograph.
Your local town centre is a place of many different architectural styles, wherever you are. Look around your city centre for details and architecture that stands out and take some images.
Don’t forget to visit your local train station for some architectural wonders. Train stations are quite often the oldest building in your local area and are full of different kinds of architectural beauty. Take you camera there and have a look!
Location: King’s Cross Station. Photographer: Michal Parzuchowski.
Wherever you are going to shoot your architectural photography, be careful and make sure you aren’t trespassing on any locations you shouldn’t be. Make sure you ask people in the locations if you are ok to shoot photographs there or not!