A step-by-step guide to completing a successful photo expedition

Route map of photography in London

A ‘pro tips’ post for you today. I undertook a London cityscape portfolio update over the weekend and figured I’d share the planning process that goes into my photo japes. It’s a bit more involved than ‘grab camera, leave flat’…

Step 1 – How do you want your photos to be viewed?

Photography for photography’s sake is great, but if you start thinking about how you want your final photos to be ‘consumed’ even before you leave home, you’ll probably find you get better results. This could be something literal like ‘get new wall art for my hallway’, or as abstract as ‘document this particular area of London so that my hypothetical grandchildren can see what things were like in my grandparents’ heyday’. A strategy will give more purpose to your photo jaunt.

In my case, I wanted to shoot some portfolio shots to demonstrate my London-ness in promoting my super cheap London-only Wedding Essentials Photography service.

London photographed by Will Strange

Step 2 – Where do you want to go?
Chances are you may already have an area in mind, which is why you want to take your camera out and about. If not, now’s the time to choose. How far do you want to travel? Do you want to go somewhere familiar or new to you?
The Royal Exchange, London photographed by Will Strange

London photographed by Will Strange. This is Tower Bridge, not London Bridge.

Step 3 – Do you know your way around?
Decide on at least three specific locations – buildings, monuments, viewpoints etc – and do a map of your route. If nothing else, a map will give you a visual progress guide so you can keep a check on time.
The cheesegrater building with the natwest tower 42 and a double decker bus in London

Step 4 – What is your preferred location?
Of all the areas you have listed out in step 3, have a think about which of them is your ‘must shoot’ place. What specific building/landmark did you have in mind when you chose the area? When planning your route, make sure this isn’t your first or last stop. You’ll want to use your first location as a warm-up and you might be tired of lugging around several kilos of camera gear by the end of your trip. Your A-game will be a couple of locations in.

For me, Leadenhall Market was my ‘must shoot’ location as it’s publicly-accessible, very photogenic and frequently pops up on wedding blogs. It’s one of London’s trendiest wedding locations.
Leadenhall Market, London photographed by Will Strange

Leadenhall Market, London photographed by Will Strange

Leadenhall Market, London photographed by Will Strange

Leadenhall Market, London photographed by Will Strange

Step 5 – Which day of the week and time of day will work best?
Find out sunrise/sunset times and deduce when the best time of day is for your preferred location (see step 4).

A quick Google image search of Leadenhall Market suggested to me that dusk would be the optimum time to photograph the arcade. I wanted the ambient daylight coming through the glass roof to be at the same strength as the artificial lighting inside the arcade. This meant I had to be there at around 5.30pm (half an hour before sunset)
Leadenhall Market, London photographed by Will Strange

Leadenhall Market, London photographed by Will Strange

Leadenhall Market, London photographed by Will Strange

Step 6 – What kit will you need?
Standard, wide and/or telephoto? Is depth of field a consideration? I knew that my route would put me in close quarters with some monumental architecture, so an ultra-wide zoom on my main camera was going to be the order of the day. I also took along a small, light telephoto lens in case I needed the range (I didn’t). If you’re planning on covering a lot of territory, do try to keep kit weight to a minimum.

Leadenhall Market, London photographed by Will Strange

The Walkie Talkie building with a crane. London photographed by Will Strange

Step 7 – Can I start shooting now?
Yes!
Tower Bridge, not London Bridge, London photographed by Will Strange

Tower Bridge, not London Bridge, London photographed by Will Strange

Tower Bridge, not London Bridge, London photographed by Will Strange

Tower Bridge, not London Bridge, London photographed by Will Strange

Tower Bridge, not London Bridge, London photographed by Will Strange

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