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7 Tips to Help You Explore Urban Landscape Photography

I love landscape photography.

Whether it is a rural landscape, coastal landscape or woodland landscape, the pull of nature has been a strong feature in influencing the direction of my photography.

Until recently, I didn’t consider that urban locations might be considered in the genre of landscape photography. For me, towns and cities provided occasional opportunities for street photography, which I enjoy, but that was as far as it went.

Recently I have started to explore urban areas near my home as potential locations for urban landscape photography and I have been pleasantly surprised by the results.

I have discovered a love for this type of photography and after many outings to different urban locations with my camera I have discovered ways to enhance my enjoyment of urban photography.

If you think you would like to try urban landscape photography here are 7 ways to help you explore this genre to see if it is for you.


1. Experiment with different types of shot

One of the most surprising aspects of this type of photography is the number of photographic opportunities you can find just by looking up.

Many of the best and most interesting architectural features are on top of buildings and there is an abundance of different shapes, lines, patterns and unusual features just above our heads.

Looking down, too, can offer many surprises as we find a similar abundance of design features.

Why not try a unique angle?

Shoot through glass, or bars, get close to your subject, find a ready-made frame to shoot through, include a foreground interest.

I often walk past on street level without looking down. With my camera I discovered a different scene below ground level

You don’t need to just shoot from standing height; get creative and you’ll make more interesting and unique images.

Urban photography offers us opportunities to capture wide-angle shots taking in a wide vista, close-up shots of patterns, shapes and colour, and everything in between.

Urban landscapes are not all about buildings. Including people in their natural environment helps to tell the story of the urban location

2. Explore shape

Exploring shape is one of the most interesting aspects of urban photography, simply because of the sheer diversity of shapes that we find. Vertical, horizontal and diagonal lines compete with or complement curves; triangles vie with squares, rectangles and circles for design dominance.

There are sleek modern designs existing alongside traditional structures. Designs from various architectural eras often co-exist with the most up to date design ideas bringing character and diversity to cities and towns.

3. Use reflections

Reflections are a great compositional technique in all genres of photography and they can be found in abundance in urban settings. Rain puddles often yield great reflections, as do wet streets. Glass in shop fronts are a way to experiment with reflections and are always readily available.

The model in the window appears to be watching what's going on in the street.

4. Experiment with light

Light and shade can play an important role in urban photography. Sun shining on buildings can throw up shadow areas providing a contrast with the light and providing opportunities to capture interesting shadows.

5. Explore black and white

Urban photography is a natural candidate for colour photography given the amount of colour we find in urban settings. Yet it is well worth experimenting with black and white urban photography as it can yield some compelling images.

I like to use the monochrome setting on my camera while shooting as it helps with the composition of black and white images. However, sometimes I notice that a certain image would look good in black and white so I try converting in Lightroom.

A good idea is to try a black and white urban landscape project of an area near you.

6. Include a human element

It’s not quite street photography, yet adding a human element to our urban photography can give a sense of place and tell the story of the location in a special way.

It can be worthwhile to keep a look out for ‘characters’ who inhabit the place or people who are doing something interesting or are dressed in a particular way.

While this may stray into the realm of street photography, I believe it is a valid way to depict the entirety of an urban landscape. After all, what is an urban landscape without its people?

7. Try capturing the city at night

A night-time urban landscape will yield different images than those offered by the same landscape during the day. Street lights, neon lights, flashing lights, reflections, light trails from cars, people captured under the city lights will give a totally different picture of the location and will add to the story of the place.


I hope these tips encourage you to try out urban landscape photography for yourself.

It may open up a whole new set of photographic opportunities for you to enjoy.

If you have your own tips for urban landscape photography, please do share them.

If you try out some of the tips mentioned above, I’d love to know how you get on.


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