The beauty, creativity, and impact of a photograph are clearly in the hands of the photographer. Photographers understand that the camera plays a relatively small part in the creative process because a great picture can originate from any subject, destination, or city, assuming the photographer has “the eye” and skill to produce the art. So, creating a list of the top 10 cities in the world to photograph is a little awkward because a destination should have little to do with the appeal of the final image.
However, some cities seem to serve beautifully artistic photos on a silver platter. These images command attention despite the ability of the photographer. You know what I mean. You’ve seen pictures of specific destinations, taken by friends and relatives with a cellphone camera and posted on social media sites, that are off-center and whose perspective is less than unique. Yet, the photos are still visually strong and stunning. Why? The reason is the subject. The city’s vibe, color, architecture, and people radiate excitement and distinctiveness. It almost seems that despite the photographer's skill level, this city will do its image-editing, set its filters, and give the person peering through the lens a helping inspired hand. This list of the world’s best cities to photograph falls into that great class of easy-to-photograph cities.
Honorable Mention – Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Supremely modern and star-trek-like architecture combined with beautiful Islamic structures create one of the most photographable cities, Abu Dhabi. The contrast of a conservative Islamic state and modernity merging creates an ever-intriguing subject matter to shoot.
10 – Singapore, Singapore
Photographing Singapore is the equivalent of photographing a vast biomechanical organism of modern architecture, copious green spaces, artsy-hipster neighborhoods, and ethereal structures. The city has a techno-modern feel combined with color and diversity that photographers desire. Sometimes the recent clashes with the artsy, but the photographic attraction is still there.
9 – Florence, Italy
Calling Florence a city is a bit of a stretch, but there is no questioning the vitality and distinctively compact setting of this photo-friendly town. Probably no other city in the western world is defined by art as much as Florence, and photographic opportunities abound whether you are meandering the city at night or during the day. In such a tight space, the Gothic and Renaissance architecture of the buildings always provide a unique photographic backdrop.
8 – Istanbul, Turkey
Family-friendly and photo-friendly, Istanbul is one of the most photogenic cities in the world. It is comparable to an old antique shop that spans two continents and a myriad of cultures. It’s an integral part of the east-west history, and it is this history that creates too many photo opportunities to mention. It can be a little overwhelming, and while the city could use a bit more hue, it is undoubtedly one of the best cities to photograph.
7 - Prague, Czech Republic
From a photographic and tourist perspective, Prague is much more complex than the many writings about Prague suggest. From bridges to Old Towns, to metropolitan areas, to Venice-like canals twisting through residential areas, Prague has probably the most diverse and aesthetically unique canvas of any city its size. Here you will find a variety of subjects to photograph, some in stark contrast with others, but each on their distinct canvas.
6 – Rome, Italy
You knew Rome had to be on this list with its wealth of architectural wonders whose history spans thousands of years. It is a city that is also a museum. However, unlike most museums these days, you can take photos in this “museum.” Rome is a gallery of piazzas, statues, and grand iconic structures that only require you to point and click to take impressive photos.
5 – Porto, Portugal
Rundown, neglected, and colorful Porto is a photographer’s dream. With precariously situated buildings clutching the face of the Douro River, this city in northern Portugal is a sight to behold. Some of the best photographic vantage points are from the river (primarily the north side), so all photographers need to take a river cruise to get some of the finest shots. Then, you can take a cable car ride above the river to access a tremendous bird-eye perspective. However, you don’t have to do much in Porto to get a memorable shot with all of the colorful graffiti covering buildings that seem to be held together only by the latex of the graffiti.
4 – Tokyo, Japan
Imagine takings photos within a colorful and vibrant virtual world. Well, that’s Tokyo. With a dynamism that rivals and possibly passes New York City, this city combines vigorous activity and progress with color and animation to form one of the most photographable metropolitan areas. Additionally, Tokyo’s people are an integral part of this artistic landscape, more so than any urban setting of its stature.
3 - Marrakesh, Morroco
For a photographer, getting lost in a city can be a good and welcomed thing because the most interesting subjects are often not on the beaten path. That makes Marrakesh a great city to photograph because you will get lost in a colorful bizarre of friendly locals and exotic North African charm that houses a variety of exciting subject matter to shoot.
2 – Venice, Italy
Venice may be the only city whose atmosphere has built-in photographic filters. When you see a photo of the Grand Canal with its nebulous water-colored aura, you assume the image had its day in Photoshop. However, if you ask the photographer, they will adamantly tell you that no filters were used. Venice is one of the most unique cities in the world, and everywhere you turn, there is a great photo opportunity. This destination would be the best city in the world to photograph if it weren’t for…
1 - Havana, Cuba
I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a horrible shot taken of Havana. This city, stuck in time, character, and hue, is one of a kind. The combination of wonderfully colorful individuals and ramshackle pastel backdrops makes Havana the best city in the world to photograph. Interestingly, the people of Havana see themselves as a permanent part of the photographic canvas and will provide a myriad of staged photographic opportunities for any soul with a camera or cellphone. No city in the world is more photo-friendly than Havana.