Considered by many to be the best city in Canada – though don’t tell Toronto or Montreal – Vancouver has a lot to offer its visitors, particularly if they’re photographically inclined. The city boasts everything from trendy neighbourhoods, street food that will knock your socks off, a waterfront path that circumnavigates the downtown core and beyond, to a 4km squared nature-lovers’ paradise that entices a feeling of solitude even though you’re technically still downtown.
Because the city is so diverse, it’s like a smorgasbord of epic compositions for photographers. After living in Vancouver for a good few years in between my usual jaunts around the world, I like to think I know the city pretty well.
Since I’ve pretty much photographed Vancouver to death, from every angle, in every light, I thought I’d share a visual guide for visitors to the city who are looking for Vancouver’s best photo locations.
Vancouver’s Best Photo Locations: A Visual Guide
Location: This shot was taken from the Mount Pleasant side of False Creek directly opposite Science World. I went down on to the boardwalk near the dragon boat docks to get this shot.
Tip: Wait until sunset / dusk to shoot Science World. They light up the sphere at night, which provides some fantastic colour and reflections in the water if the conditions are right. Also, any colours from sunset that are reflected in the water allow for excellent mood in an image.
Location: Take a stroll along Water Street in Gastown and you’re sure to stumble upon all sorts of characters. This guy caught my eye because of the immense concentration he displayed while working. He has some amazing art, which he crafts using just a sheet of wood, a magnifying glass, and the sun. Talk about talent.
Tip: Take your time and stroll down the streets of Gastown, Water street in particular. There is a lot to take in and if you rush you might miss something unique. There are some fantastic street scenes to capture and some truly beautiful heritage buildings as well.
Location: This photo was taken on the corner of Granville and Robson Streets. This section of Granville Street is my favourite because the shops have a lot of colour and signs Granville is well known for (such as the Orpheum Theatre) are visible. The funky atmosphere this street is famous for is still evident here as well.
Tip: Wait until the sun has set to photograph Granville Street. Everything is lit up, storefronts, street lights, signs, which can provide the somewhat grungy street with mood and colour, plus the signs tend to stand out better.
Location: This shot was taken from my favourite section of the seawall near George Wainborn Park. The best part about this section of the popular waterfront walkway is a line of trees that provides just that little bit extra detail to complete the scene.
Tip: This section of the path really shines during the fall months. Not only do the trees turn a perfect shade of crimson, the city is often covered in fog during these months. If all your stars are aligned and you can be here during fall, and there is fog, you must get a sunset shot. The light is incredible.
Location: This shot was taken near the popular Crepe Café on Robson Street (just after Burrard Street).
Tip: Photographing here at night means you can use the traffic to your advantage by capturing light trails. Use the bench seating out the front of the Crepe Café to gain some height. This will help bring depth to the photograph by having the light trails at an angle. If you’re around during Christmas time you’re extra lucky because they wrap the trees in fairy lights, which can look very pretty in a night scene.
Location: This photo of North Vancouver was taken from the viewing area up the stairs near the Vancouver Convention Centre. This spot provides good height for photos of the harbour, Vancouver’s local mountains, and North Vancouver.
Tip: Use a telephoto lens to capture Lonsdale and the local mountains. If it’s a clear day you may even be able to see the ski fields on the mountains. This vantage point also allows for some great shots of the sea planes taking off and landing in the harbour.
Location: The Inukshuk is located near English Bay along the sea wall. If you’re following the sea wall along the waterfront it’s pretty impossible to miss. If you’re coming down off Beach Avenue then you’ll need to head down to the water around Bidwell Street.
Tip: If you can, head down to photograph the Inukshuk during sunset. The outline of the statue creates a beautiful silhouette and the backlighting gives it a bit of a glow. Plus, you get the gorgeous sunset colours as a background.
Location: The Lighthouse Park is located across the Lions Gate Bridge in West Vancouver. Follow Marine Drive west until you come to Beacon Lane on the left. The park is down the end of the street. It is a short hike through some beautiful and serene forest down to the actual lighthouse.
Tips: I recommend heading out on to the rocks to the left of the lighthouse. If you’re there at the right time of day, the views back to the city are pretty special as well.