It started in my mind when I was searching for different places to go shooting with our couples. Although London is absolutely beautiful and there’s so many things to see and visit, I could not find a good, clear article about locations for a photo shoot. Places like Regent Park , Hyde Park and so on are all pretty but too touristy for my liking, so it had to be something different. A London hidden gem that only locals really know of, which meant less people around and more freedom for shooting!
So here I am on a quest to explore and find as many unique sightings one can visit and shoot a pretty spectacular image, too.
After much research and traveling from North to the South, far and wide, I am so excited to finally be sharing our list of London Hidden Gems and Photo Shoot Locations in London. It is meant to not only help us and our couples to find the best location for their engagement shoot or portrait session, but also anyone who is looking for those amazing and less touristy locations in and around London. Believe me, they do exist.
Before I break down my forever growing list of London hidden gems, here’s what we discovered so far:
According to Wikipedia, “Kew Gardens is the world’s largest collection of living plants”.
From the exotic glasshouse gardens filled with succulents and tropical blooms to a stroll down to the Chinese Pagoda, there’s much to see and photograph.
A great perk, if you’re a member, you can get to visit Kew before any of the tourists, which means you could almost have the place for yourself, to enjoy as you please.
It is most certainly one of my top favourite places to go to and best photo shoot location spots thanks to the glass house that provides the best light one could dream of. If you don’t believe me, check out this Autumn engagement session in Kew Garden we did or this Summer portrait session from the glasshouses!
Ah, Richmond Park is pretty special for us. We pretty much moved further South West so we could be closer to this place and get away from the busy city for a bit. There’s always deers, majestic stags and also patches of forest where we love walking through.
We loved shooting quite a few engagement sessions in the park, so we got to see the forest changing colours each season and also on different times of the day. We shot this beautiful couples’ engagement photos during the Summer whilst on a different occasion, on a hazy Winters morning, we got to take some engagement portraits in Richmond Park for another happy couple! Probably my favourite time of the day is just before Sunset, when everything seems to just slow down and the light between the trees is magical. Reminds me of the Sunset engagement pictures we took one day in Richmond.
This place is yet another London hidden gem. I have heard about it in an article, but little did I know I would fall in love with it! Part cafe, restaurant, part store or events location, there’s beauty at every corner you turn!
Important to note, before planning your journey: check the opening times for Petersham Nurseries, as they always have lots of events happening and it would be so sad to arrive to closed gates. If you arrive here during the weekend, there’s no chance you could take some portraits without others around, but during the week, we actually took a few engagement portraits at Petersham Nurseries without bothering anyone.
You can also plan your wedding reception here, in case you were wondering! And yes, we’re more than happy to be your wedding photographers! I dedicated a whole blog post to this beautiful cafe in South West London if you care to have a read!
St. Dunstan in the East
A former Church of England parish, St. Dunstan in the East was largely destroyed in the Second World War, so the ruins are now a public garden.
It’s certainly one of London’s hidden gems, as this garden is found between London Bridge and the Tower of London, in one of the business areas of London, as an oasis of tranquility and history. One could easily miss if you didn’t know about it beforehand.
A brilliant spot for some photographs, if I may say so myself, as I love the grunginess and somewhat Mediterranean feel of it. It’s a very unexpected gem, I believe.
Discovered this place purely by chance, as I was trying to hide from rain one day. When I got in, I was completely mesmerised.
Leadenhall Market is one of the oldest markets in London, dating from the 14th century and is located in the historic centre of the City of London‘s financial district. It’s still very much in use as a local market, which I find absolutely amazing.
Surrounded by skyscrapers and forever rushing business people, enter this market and you instantly get taken back in time. Leadenhall Market has also been one of the filming locations for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Just saying.
Wilton’s Music Hall
Best described by Wilton’s Music Hall own website, ” it is a gem in the heart of London and the oldest grand music hall in the world.” Or, as The Guardian would say, “this vast barrel-vaulted venue is the East End’s best-kept secret.”
If this is not enough to make you want to see it yourself, I don’t know what is.
My favourite thing though, is the fact that Wilton’s are also hosting weddings (among other events) in this pub and it’s one of my dream list locations to shoot a wedding at (hint!).
Now this is a location I could rave about for hours as it is by far one of my favourite places to walk in and definitely a London hidden gem!
Although everyone knows about Hampstead Heath Park, it seems that not many know of Pergola and Hill Gardens, which is quite convenient as you get to have some peace and quiet and not having to dodge tourists at every step you take.
My personal favourite photo shoot location, we shot some beautiful engagement sessions at Pergola Gardens. If you’re ever in the area, do yourself a favour and go inside. You can thank me later.
I’m over the moon to share with you an actual wedding we shot at Pergola Gardens in London and absolutely loved shooting the outdoor wedding ceremony by the pond. It’s a dream place to shoot at, of course!
When one thinks of the South Bank area in London, you immediately think of London Eye, Big Ben, Tate Modern and the famous bridges.
This right here is the perfect spot for hundreds and hundreds of tourists walking constantly and stoping for photographs. As they should.
But I felt there must be something more to South Bank, places that are a bit more private (yes, that is quite possible) and different.
So what do you do when everyone is going one way? You go the opposite. Instead of taking photos on the main South Bank, why not go few steps down and maybe walk on the shores (same amazing view, less the people) or under the bridges which offer an amazing architecture.
The best part yet, during Sunset, the tide goes out, not in, so you could get a beautiful light and nobody would even know you’re there!
Quite important though, as I don’t want to have anyone on my conscience, please be extremely aware of the tide coming back in, as you do not want to be caught in the river Thames. Safety comes first!
Isn’t this place exciting? For years I had no idea of its existence, until one day, when Sam decided to go explore further from Tower Bridge.
St. Katherine Docks almost takes you back in time, surrounded by old buildings, an inn and lots and lots of boats. Completely hidden from the main attractions in the city, this place is a London hidden gem located very close to Tower Bridge, so why not adding it on your list while in the area?
A beautiful open garden, glasshouses, flowers in bloom and brick walls, all in a place less visited by tourists which makes for one great location for a photo shoot or a private event.
And if you’re looking for some diversity, just walk a few steps out of Fulham Palace and you’re right on the shore of river Thames.
Lincoln’s Inn, the Chapel
It’s always exciting discovering a new location and this one didn’t disappoint. Very close to Temple Tube Station, Lincoln’s Inn chapel beautifully stand hidden behind office buildings and quite narrow streets. But the moment we could see if, I was pretty excited, as you can imagine.
There’s actually a church that’s in use all year for concerts on the higher level, while below the chapel, there is a 17th century vaulted undercroft, as you can see in the photos. Isn’t it just beautiful?
Situated on the South side of the Strand in central London, overlooking the River Thames, Somerset House is a major arts and cultural centre in the heart of London.
For photographers, this is the most amazing light scenario, with white faded walls and floors. It’s basically a huge outdoor studio, with beautiful light bouncing off everywhere.
I wouldn’t say this is necessarily a London hidden gem, as pretty much everyone heard or knows about it’s existence, having become very popular in the West End. Nevertheless, I think it’s definitely worth mentioning. It is such a beautiful market and trading area, especially during Christmas time, when designers get a chance to show their creativity with some amazing decor.
If you plan on taking photos here, you might want to go on the off peak times, as this place gets pretty busy, quite quickly.
Hey, we’re Diana & Sam!
We are a photographer husband and wife team based in the beautiful Cotswolds area. Absolutely love the outdoors and shoot primarily non – traditional barn weddings and elopements for the adventurous wild at heart couple. We help remove the stress and pressure from your wedding day and do our best to make you feel at ease and extremely relaxed in front of the camera, so you will dearly remember your experience.