Looking for unique ways to capture amazing cityscapes? Take a look at these 9 tips for getting more out of your cityscape photography.

Are you looking to break into cityscape photography and not sure how to do it? Once you get the basics down, you’re well on your way to creating amazing images that will make people want to travel to exotic destinations! There are so many stories that can be told in the streets around the world, making cityscape photography both beautiful and a tad mysterious.  We’re going to give you our top 9 tips for improving your cityscapes.

1. Take on a different perspective.

We’ve all seen the really cool shots of the city skylines that span an image. The tall buildings, mixed with the lights of shoreline restaurants…you can easily get the image in your mind because you’ve seen it a million times. It doesn’t mean that it isn’t beautiful, it certainly is, but maybe change it up a little! If you’re in the middle of the city, look up!!

Like in the image below, there are far more perspectives that you may not be thinking about in terms of your cityscape photography. Not only can changing it up be super cool, you may actually be able to sell a few prints if you catch a really unique perspective.  And look at those leading lines!! Pretty cool, don’t you think?

Also try to think about what’s around your city. Are there any cool bridges, architecture, or bodies of water? Adding another element to your images can really set it apart from the rest.


2. Use a wide angle lens.

Investing in a wide angel lens will serve you well when it comes to all types of landscapes, but especially epic city shots.  Perching yourself on top of a tall building on the outskirts will allow you a view that is stunningly vast.  There are many great options for wide angle lenses, so start researching and maybe think of adding one to your camera bag. You really can’t go wrong.

3. Get some night images.

A city really comes to life at night, with all of the dynamic color and movement. In many ways, cityscape photography is one of the only types of photography that is sometimes considered better at night! In the case of shooting at night, you’ll probably have to know more of what your camera is capable of achieving. For example, some cameras have a feature called “bulb mode,” that allows you to keep your shutter open for longer than the standard 30 seconds.

Check out this great tutorial for more on night photography for beginners!

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4. Go out during different times of the day!

Much like portrait sessions, golden hour can really be a great time to get out at take some shots. Not only do you get that beautiful sunrise/sunset glow in the sky, you can start to catch the twinkle of lights that start to appear when night falls.  Pay attention to where the sun is in your images and play with different times of day and different exposures! Remember that you’ll get entirely different views at sunrise than you will at sunset!

cityscape photography

5. Play with your post-processing.

Taking your cityscapes into Photoshop or Lightroom can be really exciting! You can play around with all types of edits, including graduated filters, sky overlays, and black and white. Adding that pop of color can be a really cool addition to make your photos really come alive! A quick tip: if you plan to do a lot of work post-processing, make sure that you are taking your photos in RAW format. This will allow you to make some serious adjustments to your image without diminishing the quality.

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6. Try long exposure shots.

Long exposure can yield you some pretty amazing city shots.  With the all hustle and bustle, capturing the movement of a city can really make it come to life in your images.  In this case, you’ll have to really slow down your shutter speed to allow your camera’s sensor to capture as much data as possible. The use of a tripod and remote trigger will also increase the quality of your images. Click here for more on long exposure and shutter speed!

long exposure cityscapes

7. Add interest.

You can’t really go wrong when it comes to adding interest to your photos. In this case, we are talking about a different type of composition than say, your typical portrait tips, although those techniques can absolutely still apply (like the rule of thirds and layering, for example).  Adding something that magnifies, frames or shows the city in a new way will always create a different dynamic, so think outside of the box!


8. Tell a story.

Every city is made up of millions of personal stories.  There is nothing better than giving your audience a glimpse of those stories in your work.  Why is this important? Because it creates a deeper connection.  We can relate, it keeps us asking questions, and creating our OWN story.  Adding that one extra element in your image can really send it over the top.  What’s better than a picture that really gets your brain working?!

NYC cityscapes

9. Include a cityscape in your portrait photography.

Add some cool dynamic to your portrait photos by including your client in cityscape shots! When it comes to really iconic cities like Paris, NYC or Washington D.C., adding a really cool skyline can add a backstory to your image, much like described above. Your client will most likely appreciate you capturing their personality in the context of a bigger picture.

One thing to really keep in mind is that cityscape photography requires a great deal of patience and practice. In fact, it’s pretty likely won’t walk away with stunning cityscape images during your first attempt, but don’t let that stop you! With more and more practice, and some serious trial and error, you’ll start to notice that your images will improve quickly. If you start with the basics and slowly add some of these quick tips, you’ll have some pretty amazing cityscapes in no time!

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