A concise city guide for photographers – updated!

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Updated from the 2012 version: my concise city guide for photographers. I’ve added many cities to the list since the first edition, and things have of course changed. This guide is a shortlist of places I’ve been to personally that I think are worth visiting as a photographer, places to be avoided, and places if you like a challenge… It’s organized by city, in alphabetical order. Name links lead you to any other posts tagged from that location – usually photoessays – to help you get a better idea of what to expect. Certain destinations also have a vicarious travel/photographic guide in the form of a How To See episode – links for those are included, too. MT

Amsterdam Arch

Amsterdam, Netherlands
Photo friendliness – 7/10
Photo opportunities – 8/10

Lots of potential for architecture and street photography here; very safe so long as you avoid photographing in the red light districts (understandably, most people there do not want to be photographed and might be drunk/aggressive/both). And has the bonus of hosting many of the world’s premier art museums such as the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum; take a break from creating composition and go appreciate/ deconstruct it instead. Also a good place for cheese tasting (the Reypenaer Proeflokaal tasting house on the Singel is recommended) and buying completely tax free cigars, with a fantastic selection (Hajenius on the Rokin is probably the best of these). Of course if you’re into burning other things, then there’s plenty of opportunity for that too. One word of caution: it is a very expensive city, so budget accordingly.

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Auckland, New Zealand
Photo friendliness – 8/10
Photo opportunities – 4/10

Most of the activity in Auckland centers around the waterfront; be it related to boats, life, the harbor, watersports, or the sea itself. Kiwis are extremely friendly people, and generally don’t mind having their photo taken; however, note that everything downtown goes dead after about 6pm as businesses close and people retreat to the suburbs, so there isn’t a lot to photograph. There is some interesting architecture and light provided by lots of modern glass buildings around Quay Street and Queen Street. The North Shore is also an interesting area of pavement/ sidewalk cafe life, as well as being a good place to spend a sunny afternoon. Needless to say, one of the biggest events is when the America’s Cup visits the city; great for photographic opportunities, bad for the wallet.

Bali, indonesia
Photo friendliness – 10/10
Photo opportunities – 7/10

As with almost all places in Asia, Bali is very welcoming to tourists and puts up with their photography; the challenge is going to be getting from place to place because most of the interesting sites like Tanah Lot require a vehicle to get to, and there’s not much in between. The more touristy areas like Kuta in the south are basically divided up into the usual tropical tourists traps of eateries and pubs, or compounded resorts. None of these afford much to shoot, though some of the resorts do have interesting architecture.

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Bangkok. Leica M9-P, 35/1.4 ASPH FLE

Bangkok, Thailand
Photo friendliness – 6/10
Photo opportunities – 8/10

Bangkok is so different to most other places – even within Asia, to some extent – that there’s bound to be something different for the traveller to capture. Within Bangkok there are plenty of districts; avoid the places with multi-lane avenues and low pedestrian-friendliness like Rama V, Sukhumvit and Wireless; it’s difficult to capture anything there. Far more interesting is the temple area by the river, around Wat Arun and Wat Pho; there’s also a warren of small streets and bustling city life around Thanon Yowarat in Chinatown. You could easily spend days walking around there and not manage to see everything. Note that whilst most Thais are friendly, a lot do not like having their photograph taken, so please remember to respect cultural sensitivities. The outskirts of the city are likely to provide more photographic opportunities of the rural sort. Note that Bangkok’s famous floating market is not actually in the city, but around two hours’ drive north.

Barcelona, Spain
Photo friendliness – 8/10
Photo opportunities – 7/10

Architecture, culture and people are the three things that stand out in Barcelona. Visit in spring or summer; winter is depressing and can be cold (I actually got stranded at the top of a hill in a snowstorm once). The Barri Gotic, or Old Quarter, is the best place to go exploring on foot; the seaside promenade near the Hotel Arts is also full of interesting characters and is a great place for street photography. I actually don’t like Parc Guell much; yes, it’s interesting from an art point of view, but for photography the space is too open and full of tourists. You might get some interesting detail shots of Gaudi’s handiwork, but the Sagrada Familia is much, much better for that. There are plenty of tourists roaming the streets, so another photographer mostly goes unnoticed; some Catalonians don’t like being photographed, though. If you have extra time, the monastery of Montserrat is worth visiting for its architecture. Sadly no photography is allowed inside the cathedral, though.

Cambridge, England
Photo friendliness – 8/10
Photo opportunities – 7/10

It’s often said that the difference between Cambridge and Oxford is that the former is a city inside a university, and the latter is a university inside a city – the reason being that Oxford town came before Oxford University, and both came before Cambridge. The difference is felt in size: Cambridge feels much roomier and more spread out than Oxford; a lot of the colleges are far away enough that you need at least a bicycle, and might even want to consider taking the bus. Still, there’s plenty of interesting architecture and mediaeval alleyways to explore, as well as the river Cam; don’t forget to pick up some Fudge at the Fudge Kitchen.

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Canterbury. Leica M8, 21/1.4 ASPH

Canterbury, England
Photo friendliness – 7/10
Photo opportunities – 6/10

Most people visit Canterbury for one reason only: the cathedral. A masterpiece of Gothic engineering, it’ll keep any architectural photography fan engaged. Photography inside is allowed. There’s a small network of old streets around the cathedral that can be an interesting backdrop for street photography, but note that most of the old shops have been replaced by modern chains – though some of the frontages etc remain the same. There are some interesting Roman ruins – the city wall – and a Norman castle, though these do not make for particularly arresting photography, unless you bring your own subject – I suppose one could probably do a fashion shoot there.

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Chicago, USA
Photo friendliness – 10/10
Photo opportunities – 10/10

If you have any affinity for architecture or street photography, this is your city. I think of it as New York with friendliness replacing the aggression; walking down the Magnificent Mile is like taking a tour through the history of modern architecture. On a bright day, light bounces off the various surfaces and makes the streets simply come alive. There are smaller streets around Wabash and Millennium Park (the mirrored ‘bean’, Cloud Gates and the Gehry-designed Pritzker Pavilion) and a huge number of art galleries. What makes the architecture interesting is not so much the variety and detail – which is excellent – but the fact that it’s very well used and integrated by the residents. Having some amazing restaurants and being very affordable is just icing on the cake.

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Fukuoka, Japan
Photo friendliness – 10/10
Photo opportunities – 5/10

This mid-size city in Kyushu is a quiet and compact little place. There is a bit of interesting architecture and some street photography opportunities around the city centre, plus an interesting jumble of rocks and piers around the waterfront area near the Dome – but that’s about it during the day. At night, the riverfront area is lined with many small yatai eating stalls that are both visually interesting and tasty. Unlike other major cities in Japan, it’s also very much an equipment desert, so your wallet is safe. Perhaps not your waistline though, because it’s famous for ramen and oden – the latter of which is a very tasty hearty stew, but also notoriously heavy.

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Geneva. Nikon D800E, 28/1.8

Geneva, Switzerland
Photo friendliness – 5-8/10
Photo opportunities – 5/10

I find the personality of Geneva depends very much on what time of the year you visit: I went once during winter, and it was both miserably weathered and full of surly, unfriendly folk; however, during the summer, everybody seems to be in a good mood the moment the sun shows. The city itself transforms, too; the old quarter, on the opposite side of the lake to the train station and behind the main drag of Rue du Rhone, is full of charming buildings and streets, that create interesting pockets of light as the sun starts to drop. Watch fans will also find the Patek Philippe museum of particular interest. Several years ago, they allowed photography of the exhibits, but I’m not sure if that’s changed in the intervening period. Outside Geneva are plenty of opportunities for landscape photography – the Vallee de Joux and the Alps are obvious choices.

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Hanoi, Vietnam
Photo friendliness – 8/10
Photo opportunities – 9/10

Hanoi’s photographic friendliness is reduced a couple of notches solely because of personal risk: you really need to watch out for the city’s thousands of motorbikes. Chimping while crossing the street is a sure way to get run over. That aside, the city itself has various quarters that each have a distinct feel; post-Soviet communist concrete block, French, and Asian. And in between those, there’s a temple on an island in the middle of the lake. In the Old Quarter, all of those elements come together (though with much less concrete block) to create a very unique atmosphere – think French cafe, but with the chaos of Asian wiring, street stalls, and just a little bit of decay to add texture. It’s a photographers’ paradise – and the Vietnamese don’t mind being in your frame, either. Cheap and good pho noodles and banh mi are icing on the cake.

Ming Thein’s How To See Ep. 5: Havana from Ming Thein on Vimeo.

Havana, Cuba
Photo friendliness – 11/10*
Photo opportunities – 11/10*

The rating of 11 may seem a little silly, but at least when I visited in early 2014, it was an absolute photographer’s paradise. It merits it on sheer visual difference alone. Imagine a slowly changing time capsule set in the late 1950s, friendly people, great light, seaside, broad avenues, weathered and decayed architecture, and a complete lack of advertising – and that’s Havana. It has the most incredible sunsets, especially after rain. The older districts of the city – Centro – are rougher and very interesting, but less welcoming than the touristy areas around the Parque Central and Havana Vieja old town. It’s a very safe city though; police are everywhere, as are cameras and good old fashioned Communist paranoia. If you happen to be there on May 1, the parade around Revolution Square is quite incredible – imagine being in a convoy of a million people marching at the same time down a two-mile avenue that’s also about half a mile wide. Surprisingly, food is excellent – especially if you eat at the tourist-friendly private restaurants. What’s good changes monthly though, so check with your concierge or local websites. Internet access is patchy, but chances are you’ll welcome the break anyway so you can shoot for longer. Easiest access is via Canada or Europe. Needless to say, a 10am cigar and panama hat are both mandatory.

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Hong Kong, China
Photo friendliness – 8/10
Photo opportunities – 8/10

To me, Hong Kong has always been divided up into districts with distinct photographic personalities: Central, for architecture and some light people-watching; the area behind it in mid-levels for a little bit more grit; the Peak, for that one evening shot across the harbor; Tsim Tsa Shui for neon, glitz and a little bit of transitional Hong Kong; finally, Mong Kok for absolute chaos and the grittier old city. It’s almost as though things get less developed as you head further north and into China proper. If I’m to be honest, the locals aren’t the most friendly bunch, though this is changing with the younger generation. Be careful where you point your camera. Acting like a tourist will usually let you get away with a sneaked-in street shot. Though I’ve been several times on my own, or with non-residents, the best way to see the hidden parts of the city is definitely with a local – there are some hidden photographic gems to be had. Having said all of this, I’ve felt a drastic change in the personality of Hong Kong in the last few years – it’s much, much friendlier than it used to be; perhaps this is a positive influence of the influx of Mainland Chinese (and not wanting to be like them).

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Hruba Skala and Cesky Raj, Czech Republic
Photo friendliness – 10/10
Photo opportunities – 9/10

Cesky Raj is a large UNESCO world heritage site because of its amazing rock formations – limestone and sandstone towers set in the middle of various forests. There are both amazing views from elevated positions and ground level; snaking paths through narrow canyons and surprising open meadows. All of it is accessible and nothing is off limits – people even rock climb the formations. Finding them is not so easy, which is perhaps why they are relatively quiet and people-free. It is not uncommon to have the area as far as you can see to yourself. Great for landscape photography, and a magical experience just to walk through or sit down and watch the trees wave around in the breeze. Tripod friendly. To get there, look for the castle hotel at Hruba Skala. Park there and walk a bit back up the road; the entrances to the formations are all there. Don’t go too early or late in the day – there won’t be any light in the canyons.

Jakarta, Indonesia
Photo friendliness – 3/10
Photo opportunities – 6/10

The low photo-friendliness score here isn’t a reflection of the people – far from it – it’s just that the city is really not at all pedestrian friendly, and if you’re not walking, it’s nearly impossible to shoot. Malls just aren’t that interesting. There are areas outside the city such as the port and markets that are visually rich, but not for the beginner because you must remember they are still working commercial/industrial areas, too. The downtown area is a photographic desert both architecturally and street-photography wise. Nobody walks, and one breath of the air will tell you instantly why.

Kamakura, Japan
Photo friendliness – 10/10
Photo opportunities – 8/10

If you can’t take a photograph in Japan, then the chances are if that same situation arose anywhere else in the world, you probably wouldn’t be able to, either. Kamakura is full of more Japanese tourists trying to find their cultural heritage than international ones; everybody has at least one camera. It’s not a very big town, and there are many cultural heritage things of interest here: the big Buddha statue, or daibutsu, multiple temples, including the famous Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gū and the seaside portion of the town; many of these places are UNESCO World Heritage sites. Come here on any festival day – if you can find a place on the train – and you’re assured of plenty of photojournalism material.

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Kathmandu. Nikon D700, 85/1.4G

Kathmandu, Nepal
Photo friendliness – 8/10
Photo opportunities – 8/10

It’s clear from the moment you step out of the airport that visiting Nepal is going to be completely unlike anything you’ve ever experienced. Not only is there nothing resembling a highway leading into town, the road itself doesn’t really much resemble a road, either. Thanks to fuel shortages, there are long blackouts during the day (make sure your hotel has a generator, and carry plenty of spare batteries) and few streetlights; I’d say that Kathmandu is very much a daytime photography place. Try not to go during a martial law strike, either; you can’t go out on the streets without a permit, and the place is crawling with heavily armed police. That said, the Nepalis are some of the friendliest people around, even if their country is firmly in the ‘developing’ category; like most photographically interesting cities, it has a characterful old quarter – Thamel and plenty of cultural heritage sites (Bodhanarth, Swayambhunath, Patan Durba, Singa Durba, the Narayanthi Museum etc.). It’s also a very cheap place, which explains its popularity with backpackers. Travel a bit outside the city to Nagarkot, and on a clear day, you’ll be rewarded with a magnificent view of the Himalayas.

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Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
Photo friendliness – 10/10
Photo opportunities – 7/10

On the more relaxed Sabah (Borneo) side of Malaysia, KK itself is a sleepy little town with some street opportunities but more interestingly marine and wildlife if you go outside of the city a bit. Great for bird watchers and divers; just relaxing for everybody else.

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Krabi, Thailand
Photo friendliness – 10/10
Photo opportunities – 4/10

Another one of those tropical paradises – not much in the way of development here, but plenty of resorts. The photographic reason for coming here is to see the limestone formations that form interestingly-shaped islands poking out of the bay; if you luck out with the sunset and cloud formations, some magic happens here. There isn’t much else to photograph though, so pack sunscreen and a book.

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Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and How To See Ep.1 Kuala Lumpur
Photo friendliness – 8/10?
Photo opportunities – 5/10?

It’s very difficult to be objective about your own home city; I can’t say how inspired a foreigner might find the place because it’s always been familiar territory to me. I know exactly where I’d go to shoot what, what kinds of people probably aren’t a good idea to photograph, and what I can get away with. For a visitor, there are a few things worth seeing – Chinatown/ Petaling Street, before the government tears it down for a mass transit station (ironically, to serve the part of the city which will no longer be there after the station is in place); Bukit Bintang, to shop and people-watch; Brickfields, or little India; the Batu Caves, especially during the Thaipusam Festival in late Jan/ early Feb; Merdeka Square, and some of the more interesting architecture. KLCC and the Petronas Twin Towers. If you’re feeling particularly bored, or want to see a whole load of artificial trees, then there’s i-City in Shah Alam by night. For the most part, the residents are friendly, the food is good, and the beer is cold. Although prices are rising, we’re still not as expensive as say Geneva or Hong Kong (and I really feel it in those cities). Note: of late, the opportunities to shoot are getting fewer, partially because of street-level construction for the subway/MRT, and partially because it seems some local thug-tycoons (I’m looking at you, YTL) seem to think the streets are also their private domain and instruct their security guards to hassle photographers.

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Kyoto, Japan
Photo friendliness – 9/10
Photo opportunities – 8/10

If you like temples and architecture, then Kyoto is your city. I couldn’t help feel that the atmosphere was a lot colder and more reserved than Tokyo, however; there are also a lot of broad, featureless expanses of urban sprawl between attractions that are pretty much photographic deserts. There are a few must-see places on the list – the big temples like Kinkaku-ji, Kyomizudera and slightly outside, Fushima-Inarii; Gion, the Geisha District; and the portion of the town down by the river, which I believe is called Ponto-Cho. There’s also the Imperial Palace, but aside from some extremely open gardens, there isn’t a lot of interest here. Curiously, Kyoto station itself is a very interesting piece of abstract modern architecture; in some ways it’s at odds to the rest of the historical city. The best way to get around is either by subway, or the tourist buses that run in loops from outside the station.

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London, England
Photo friendliness – 5/10
Photo opportunities- 7/10

Thanks to overzealous police, one has to be a bit careful when photographing on the streets of London – sad to say, especially if you look a bit ‘ethnic’. Smaller cameras are definitely the order of the day, and be careful where you choose to set up a tripod. The locals in general aren’t particularly camera-friendly, either. That said, there are a number of good places for people watching – the courtyard of the British Museum is one of my favourites, along with the Piccadilly Circus to St. James and Jermyn Street stretch, Trafalgar Square and the surrounding areas. The City can be interesting but also harried; Canary Wharf was good for some architectural abstracts, though on my last visit security tended to eye every camera with suspicion. The area around City Hall on the south side of London Bridge has a nice open plaza and plenty of human activity, especially if it’s sunny. There are still a number of museums which allow photography inside – this is interesting not so much for the exhibits as the spaces and people – the British Museum is by far the best, though Maritime Greenwich, The Tower of London, the Science Museum’s hangar floor and the Tate Modern are also excellent. Aside from photography, there are plenty of other things to do, so don’t feel as though you have to get postcard shots of all the sights – that’s what postcards are for.

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Lucerne, Switzerland
Photo friendliness – 8/10
Photo opportunities – 7/10

I’ve only spent two days here in total – sadly in meetings without time to explore and shoot – but it did seem that though there are the usual Swiss postcard-town opportunities around the old town and bridge and some interesting architecture around the station, the real beauty lies a drive further out and takes the form of landscapes; some absolutely spectacular stuff is visible on the way in by train. To be continued…

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Macau, China
Photo friendliness – 7/10
Photo opportunities – 9/10

Thanks to a densely-packed warren of streets, Macau seems a lot larger on foot than it does on a map; the area around the ruins of St. Paul’s Cathedral are especially rich with photographic opportunities. And the locals seem so immune to tourists that it’s also a very safe environment to pratice street photography. The casinos are a different story, however – external photography is fine, but I’m pretty sure if you pull out a camera inside, you’ll have a bunch of armed guards on you in no time. Oh, and don’t forget to try the famous egg custard tarts.

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Malacca night market. Sony NEX-5, 18-55 OSS

Malacca, Malaysia
Photo friendliness – 8/10
Photo opportunities – 7/10

There are two areas of interest in Malacca – the stretch leading from St. Paul’s church to the fort ruins on the hill during the day, and the area across the river known as Jonker Street – especially on a Saturday night when the market is in full swing. There are also a number of old clan houses that feature traditional decoration and architecture; some are still inhabited by their respective clans and offer historical tours. Most allow photography. Like the rest of Malaysia, Malacca is fairly photo friendly; unlike the major cities, it’s also fairly pedestrian friendly. Local specialities include the cendol with gula melaka and chicken rice balls; pass on the latter, but the former can be a life saver during a hot afternoon.

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Manila, Philippines
Photo friendliness – 5-8/10
Photo opportunities – 7/10

Some areas are no-go if you’re even looking slightly like a tourist, for security reasons. Others are full of tourists, and the risk level is about nil. Either way, the locals are very, very friendly and usually speak English, which helps if you’re lost in the warren of back streets around the Intramuros Fort (recommended, but not the fort itself – that’s just a sparse landform).

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Melbourne, Australia and How To See Ep. 4: Melbourne
Photo friendliness – 8/10
Photo opportunities – 7/10

Though I spent much of my early childhood here, I never really photographed the city until 2014. The downtown areas aren’t that interesting because of the regular grid street formations; more interesting is the Federation Square/ Flinders St. Station area with a mass of people, diverse architecture, and higher visual density. The area around St. Kilda has some potential, too, as does Chinatown and banks of the Yarra River. And if you like trees – the Botanic Gardens are really quite excellent – they’re laid out well enough that with careful framing, you might imagine it to be natural rather than designed.

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Nara, Japan
Photo friendliness – 10/10
Photo opportunities – 9/10

A bastion of old Japan, and a daytrip out of Kyoto, Nara is home to a large number of temples – in fact, so much so that one wonders where the residents actually live, and perhaps even if there are any permanent residents to the city at all. There are also a surprising number of inquisitive deer, and stalls lining the avenues between temples serving some of the best takoyaki I’ve eaten. It’s one of the few cities in which I felt I could freely photograph everything I wanted, and I did so; however, once you get tired of temples, there’s not much else and it’s time to get back on the train to head back to base.

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New York, USA
Photo friendliness – 5/10
Photo opportunities – 10/10

My recent trips to NYC have confirmed that whilst there’s a huge amount to shoot, the locals aren’t very friendly and don’t generally appreciate you doing it – however, they’re tolerant so long as you don’t get in the way. Security is a constant issue, so be careful of what you photograph. If in doubt, try the challenge of photographing a landmark in a recognisable way without making a cliche – there are plenty of opportunities for this. Though, it is one of the spiritual homes of street photography, be careful of doing a Bruce Gilden. It is also home to a huge number of galleries and art collections, plus no end of skyscraper architecture. And when you realise everything you own is inadequate…there’s always B&H. I suggest adding an extra day.

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Nikko, Japan
Photo friendliness – 10/10
Photo opportunities – 8/10

Nikko is a cultural heritage city much in the same vein as Nara and Kamakura; there are lots of temples, plenty of scenic things buried in dark, damp forests, and curiously little life outside that. And once again, like the other two cities, feel free to shoot away at anything and everything; but you will get bored of temples eventually. Once again, a day trip from Tokyo will suffice for most.

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Niseko. Nikon D700, Zeiss 2/28 Distagon

Niseko, Japan
Photo friendliness – 10/10
Photo opportunities – 6/10

Niseko is a place for skiiers during the winter and outdoorspeople during the summer; photography is almost entirely of the landscape variety. You’ll probably get bored of views of Mt. Yotei, but there are plenty of other interesting vignettes around – the trouble is, you’ll have to find them, and without a car or bicycle (not recommended because the place is a lot hillier than it looks) it’s difficult because things are fairly spread out. Hokkaido is probably the only place in Japan that actually has space. Personal pick – the onsen at the Hilton Niseko is outdoors and offers a fantastic view of the perfectly-conical Mount Yotei; it’s a great place to relax at the end of the day.

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Oxford, England
Photo friendliness – 8/10
Photo opportunities – 7/10

Another one of my familiar hunting grounds (I spent several years here as a student). Curiously, I didn’t shoot that much at the time; mostly to do with the fact that film was expensive, and consumer digital was still some years out. Nevertheless, I returned later on, better armed and photographically somewhat wiser. Much like Cambridge, Oxford is about history, architecture, and drunken students. (I would say learning, but the public really doesn’t see much of that going on; it’s behind closed doors). The city’s main attractions are small; you could get off the bus from London at High Street, walk past the Radcliffe Camera, around Radcliffe Square, through Broad Street, and down towards St. Giles and cover most of the interesting bits. There are a number of good museums – the Pitt Rivers is probably the most interesting of the lot – which allow photography, but they’re rather dark to preserve the artefacts. Good high ISO and fast lenses are a must. Note that most colleges allow entry during the day with a fee, or for free if you have somebody on the inside to take you around. The river Cherwell is worth punting down during summer, but beware drunken students in other punts colliding with yours…

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Papan, Malaysia (outside Ipoh)
Photo friendliness – 7/10
Photo opportunities – 9/10

This tiny (literally, three streets) town deserves a special mention because of the buildings; some combination of the wooden architecture, colourful but faded paint, tropical sun and careful neglect make for some wonderful still life detail photography. Worth a detour for half a day if you happen to be in the area, but probably not worth travelling to for that alone.

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Paris, France
Photo friendliness – 5/10
Photo opportunities – 8/10

Another spiritual home of street photography, Paris’ grand avenues and boulevards provide a fantastic backdrop to the lives of its inhabitants. Sadly, those inhabitants aren’t usually that friendly, and I’ve received my fair share of abuse and rude gestures when trying to photograph them. (Curiously, I’ve also had a guy on a bicycle yell out ‘Nice Leica!’ from about 30 yards away). Aside from the huge number of museums – it’s a great place to see both traditional art masterpieces, for inspiration – there are also a lot of small galleries and bookstores dotted around the city, many of which specialize in Photography. There’s plenty of old architecture, and a concentration of newer stuff at La Defense; the Ille de la Cite during summertime is a particularly nice place to shoot street, as are the artificial beaches along the Seine (Paris Plage). I’m told there’s also an excellent aviation museum out at Le Bourget, but I’ve never gotten around to visiting it. Particularly interesting districts are the left bank, and Montmartre.

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Penang, Malaysia and How To See Ep. 3: Penang
Photo friendliness – 10/10
Photo opportunities – 8/10

Penang has changed a lot over the last few years: it’s more vibrant, more artistic, has better food, and seems to be far more encouraging of small business than Kuala Lumpur. There are a lot of interesting areas to walk and shoot – both people and architecture – I’d recommend looking around the Love Lane area, avoid central/Komtar because there’s nothing much there, then head up towards Gurney Drive towards the end of the day for sunset and famous food stalls – the latter of which are much better to photograph than eat at, incidentally. There’s also the botanic garden (not so visually exciting) and personally, my favourite area around the Teluk Bahang dam which is accessed from the road between Batu Ferrenghi and Balik Pulau. It’s deserted and can be fantastic at the right time of day. Lastly, Kek Lok Si temple and the floating fishing village at the northern tip of Batu Ferrenghi are worth a visit if yo have spare time.

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Prague, Czech Republic
Photo friendliness – 10/10
Photo opportunities – 10/10

Prague has become one of my favourite destinations in Europe for many reasons – firstly, its sheer visual beauty; you cannot shake the feeling of walking around in a movie set. The core areas of the Old Town Square, Malostranska, Charles Bridge and Prague Castle are either fully restored or escaped bombing. They are also full of tourists, so divert to a back lane whenever you can. Plenty of opportunities up in the castle itself, along the river, and around every random unexpected corner. My personal favourite spot is a bit to the north of the Kafka Museum by the river; a sort of landing point overlooking the Charles Bridge and several famous buildings. Magical at sunset, though when the sun is out, the quality of light is really quite magical. It’s also one of the cheaper places in Europe to visit and enjoys great food, great service and very friendly locals; this must have something to do with the fact that the currency isn’t the Euro. In fact, it didn’t feel much more expensive than staying home in Kuala Lumpur. The only downside is it’s full of tour groups – even during the off season; go in winter or early spring to avoid them as much as possible. It’s still possible to stroll the Charles bridge with almost nobody on it if you time things right. The town of Tabor, about half an hour south, is also worth a detour.

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Queenstown and surroundings, New Zealand
Photo friendliness – 10/10
Photo opportunities – 10/10

Queenstown itself isn’t that interesting – the town is more like a commercial centre – but the areas surrounding the lake are absolutely stunning. It is a destination that is about natural beauty rather than manmade; rent a car and drive up north through Arrowtown, Wanaka and Lake Hawea, or west towards Fiordland and the sounds. The air is clean, people are friendly and wherever you throw a stone, you’ll probably find a landscape worth photographing. Pack a tripod and rent a 4WD if you’re going in winter, the mountain passes require both respect and chains. The pistes on Coronet Peak and The Remarkables are also worth a few days if you’re a skier.

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San Francisco, USA
Photo friendliness – 9/10
Photo opportunities – 9/10

One of my favourite cities in the US, San Francisco seems to be large enough to constantly be rewarding, but not so large as to be intimidating or not easily accessible. The Union Square area is good for street photograph, as are the Ferry Building, Fisherman’s Wharf, Embarcadero and SoMA. The Mission District is a bit more challenging and I’d say less friendly, but more visually rewarding. There are also more natural opportunities in Golden Gate Park, the beaches to the west of it and in the Golden Gate Recreational Area on the other side of the bridge. If you’re up for a bit of a drive, the Purisimia Creek Redwoods are also an excellent detour. Oddly, the place seems to be a bit of a hardware desert though – so if you need anything in an emergency, it’s Amazon or B&H.

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Sapporo, Japan
Photo friendliness – 10/10
Photo opportunities – 5/10

Sapporo may be the capital of Hokkaido, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that it felt a lot like midtown New York – with its broad, grid-like streets, modern buildings, and odd combination of density and open green spaces. The issue here is that it just doens’t feel very conducive to photography; the place somehow lacks character. However, the food is especially good because a lot of it is locally grown – seafood and corn come highly recommended. But don’t come expecting it to be like Tokyo; it’s a lot more laid back.

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Singapore, Singapore
Photo friendliness – 8/10
Photo opportunities – 7/10

Singapore is another city with distinct districts where one can go to shoot certain things; unlike many places in the world, people don’t mind you taking photographs inside shops; I suppose they’re savvy enough to realize that any offshoot internet publicity is good for free PR. I actually like shooting in Singapore because of the rich variety of modern architecture; there’s a few good pickings around Orchard Road, especially Ion; more downtown near Raffles Quay, and even more at Marina Bay. There’s also the new Botanic Gardens building, which promises to be interesting. On the other hand, more traditional scenes can be found around Chinatown, Club Street and the Mustafa complex; there’s a beach out at Sentosa if you like wildlife. Oh, and the Jurong Bird Park has a large and extremely well-stocked aviary – it’s a good place to practice birding. Much like Malaysia, people here think it’s normal to slip an SLR around your neck before heading out of the house. Snap away.

_8041084 copy
Taipei, Taiwan
Photo friendliness – 8/10
Photo opportunities – 8/10

An interesting city that feels very much in development – I suppose the best way to describe it would be a halfway point between Tokyo and Kuala Lumpur. There are undeveloped areas that appear to not have changed very much like the night markets; places that came straight out of Blade Runner like the area around Taipei 101; and then yet other areas which show the inescapable marks of communism such as the giant memorial parks and pavilions. All are worth visiting; a detour to the seaside suburbs of Danshui and Tamsui is probably also worthwhile, though if you plan to visit the teahouses on the peak of Maokong via the cable car, go early because the queues can be more spectacular than the views. I would actually recommend avoiding that and visiting one of the teahouses instead. Note that there are a lot of uninteresting industrial-esque wastelands that are walkable but not very interesting to photograph; however, some have been redeveloped such as Huashan Creative Park and can be worth a visit.

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Tokyo, Japan and How To See Ep.2: Tokyo
Photo friendliness – 10/10
Photo opportunities – 10/10

Tokyo remains one of my top places photography. It’s a combination of a few things – the huge cultural differences between Japan and the rest of the world; the sheer size of the city, meaning that there are plenty of districts of distinctly different ages and characters; and the fact that it’s possibly the most photography-friendly city on earth. After all, most of the world’s cameras are designed in Japan…Nikon, Olympus, Ricoh, Canon and Leica all have flagship stores around Ginza, some of the most expensive real estate anywhere. In fact, that portion of Tokyo is so well lit that you can shoot ISO 200 at night and still get enough shutter speed to handhold. Aside from the usual places – Harajuku’s Takeshitadori, the Meiji Shrine, Akihabara, Omotesando, Shinjuku, Shibuya and Tsukiji – there are hidden pockets of photographic opportunity anywhere and everywhere you care to look. And the chances are you’re going to feel more inspired about being here than anywhere else, because everything is so different you feel you have to capture it. I’d also suggest looking into some of the more interesting parks, like the Outdoor Architectural Museum, Hamarikyu Gardens, Koshikawa Korakuen, and my favourite, Rikugien. The Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography out at Ebisu is worth a visit; they often have great exhibitions on. There are also a large number of small, one-room galleries all over the city which offer a good introduction to local Japanese photography. Totem Pole Gallery is a good example. Note that Kamakura, Nikko, Odawara (castle) and Hakone (Fuji) are all day-trippable from Tokyo thanks to their fast train network – though I happened to be there in December 2008 when a computer glitch somehow brought the whole thing grinding to a halt. Tokyo is one of the few places I can go to now and actually feel like I’m in a completely different world; that said, after retreating here every year since 2006, I think it’s time for a change of scenery. One final word of warning: be very careful around Shinjuku. It’s easy to get sucked into Bic or Yodobashi and never find your way out again, or if you do, receive a heavy toll to your wallet.

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Venice, Italy
Photo friendliness – 9/10
Photo opportunities – 9/10

Like Tokyo, Prague and Queenstown, Venice is one of the few places left on earth that’s a true unique place unto itself – this providing a never-ending series of photographic opportunities, though you might get a bit sick of canals, tourists and museums after a while. Murano is worth a visit to see the glassmaking factories, and photograph a slower pace of life; though the Campanile is going to be crowded, ascending at sunset is recommended. I’ve changed my earlier recommendation of avoiding winter: it’s quieter, and the weather can be quite visually interesting. The locals are in a better mood because there are fewer tourists. Spring is probably better still, but the weather isn’t as interesting. Carnivale is of course another great time to go, from a photographic standpoint – but already expensive accommodation and food (everything comes in by boat) gets even more exorbitant.

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Vienna, Austria
Photo friendliness – 7/10
Photo opportunities – 7/10

Vienna is a pleasant city. It has its historical landmarks – Stefansdom, for one – and plenty of newer, more modern, post-war concrete blocks. It’s a much smaller city than it appears on the map; everything is walkable. The Stilwerk building (designed by Jean Novel) is quite an interesting piece in its own right, especially the view from the top floor (and its seemingly frameless windows). Vienna’s highlights for the photographer are its museums and galleries: aside from the painters and artists (great permanent collections at the Belvedere and Kunsthaus; Schonnbrunn is worth a visit too), there’s the Westlicht Gallery, which has year-round photographic installations (a Weegee retrospective was on when I was there). It also happens to be neighbours with the Leica Store – the second hand equipment selection there is mind-boggling. Food is also one of Vienna’s strong points: the Naschmarkt has great fresh produce, and a few simple eateries that make the most of that; there’s also a good selection of high end, with the two-Michelin star Steirereck being one of my favorite restaurants anywhere.

Remember to travel safe – don’t go out of your way to attract attention, and keep copies of important documents back at the hotel. Figure out the bare minimum of equipment and carry no more; the less gear you have, the more you’ll experience the city rather than worry about which lens to use, and in turn, the better images you’ll capture. Oh, and don’t forget a good pair of walking shoes. MT

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Comments

  1. Thanks Ming, another thoughtful and useful article. I like your dual metrics that independently assess friendliness and opportunities. I think of sites the same way though since my subject matter is pretty far from the core visitor attractions I end up with different assessments. Since I’m shooting “odd” stuff it can raise suspicions which can lead to hassles. In general the more a locale is influenced by an authoritarian government the greater the hassle. No problems at all in the Netherlands but watch out in the former Soviet bloc !

    BTW, I’ve spent less than 24 hours in KL but felt it was ripe for opportunities. The only downside was that it was a little hard to get around on foot. The same could be said about the majority of USA cities too.

    Sorry to hear you have been affected by racial profiling. That ain’t fair.

  2. Hi Ming,

    Excellent article and images as usual, but I think you hit on an in interesting point your KL entry: It is very difficult to be objective about shooting your hometown. In fact I think a local’s opinion on where to shoot can actually be unhelpful to outsiders.

    For example, I live in NYC right now and its very funny to me to see people who talking about Midtown as an incredible shooting location. I NEVER shoot in Midtown (or most of Manhattan for that matter…) because frankly I find them boring. Same thing when I lived in San Francisco, you couldn’t pay me to shoot Fisherman’s Wharf or the Ferrybuilding. Conversely, I find my neighborhood to be an overload of visual stimuli and want to shoot every single day on my boring commute to work. But I’m not sure an outsider would be able to “tune in” to that beauty.

    Maybe there is an inherit paradox in shooting locations that we aren’t completely familiar with. I personally find capturing the experience of being an awestruck outsider to be much more fruitful than trying to pretend I am familiar with a place I am not. The perspective of a traveller is just so different than those experience everyday life in these places, which is why I find your more personal images from KL so interesting.

    On that same note, come to my neighborhood in Brooklyn next time you’re in town and see what NYC really has to offer as far as shooting locations 🙂

  3. Sean Quigley says:

    Hi Ming
    I see a big omission, in that Istanbul is not on your list, certainly one of the photo capitals of the world.

  4. Ming, you must have had bad luck in London, or you need to improve your stealth capabilities (I assume it is the former, from all the great street shots I have seen from you). I have been shooting in London for five years now – thousands of photos, day and night, all over the city – and I have only had three problems: 1) a drunk on a Sunday morning looking for a fight; 2) a pub bouncer who wondered why I was hanging out with the camera at his front door for over ten minutes; 3) police wondering why I stood in the Thames water after midnight right under the HQ of the intelligence agency. The latter two are hardly surprising, the first could have happened in many places. I have shot in a lot of other cities, big and small, and in my experience London compares very well in photo friendliness. I had more hassle on shorter trips pretty much anywhere else. Such rankings are always subjective of course, but I’d suggest to give London another chance.

    • It could also be the locals being sick of Asian tourists…I walk into shops overseas most of the time to be either given the cold shoulder or a blast of mandarin. In any case, London is far too expensive to travel to now since our currency tanked 25% against the GBP in the last two months 😦

      • Well, we do get a lot of Asian tourists with cameras – although more selfie sticks recently – standing in the way; but then we do get all sorts of tourists standing in the way all the time…

        • I try very, very hard not to be one of those. But then again it’s not so easy to blend in with a different face and accent, regardless of how stealthy you are. I’ve actually found playing the tourist card to work the best given my personal appearance.

  5. suggestion: come to Portugal! 🙂 Oporto, Lisbon and Aveiro. Your article would be so enriched! 🙂 🙂
    (love your site and articles)

    • It’s on the list, but with the current disaster state of my currency, I won’t be going anywhere for some time unless it’s on assignment. 😦

      • sorry to ear that. better days will come, or a client with money to spend! 😉 some great shots in your site. damn! really great. became a fan and a regular reader/watcher.

  6. Fantastic article and images Ming, you are an inspiration! Being limited by personal circumstances, I’m limited to being a tourist in my own city (London) for most of my time, and don’t have the opportunity in the foreseeable future to travel much elsewhere. I completely agree that London and Londoners are mostly not friendly to the photographer. I’ve even hand security guards outside of Centre Point on New Oxford Street stop me taking a photo of the building while I was using an old clapped out Yashica twin lens medium format camera! For street photography, I do get that people may feel uncomfortable being photographed. Therefore, I’ve decided I’m not going to do the stealth thing with a phone or small camera, but do the honest thing and use a D700 or D3s (the biggest cameras I have) so at least people know that I’m taking photos in the vicinity and there is the possibility they will appear in them. Thus, if they’re not cool with that, they’ll back off.

  7. And what about Slovakia – Bratislava, Kosice city, High Tatras are beautifull places. And with euro currency.

  8. Thank you for this ! And some wonderful shots (of absences) in your guide

  9. jimtardio says:

    Wonderful guide…thanks for the work. I would also put Istanbul as a 10/10.

  10. Jose Rivas says:

    Hi,
    Going to Ireland soon for first time. Only 5 days. Dublin and another location. Any advice?

  11. Ming,
    Have you ever thought about Quito, Ecuador? Incredible colonial architecture – a world heritage site. It is pretty much right the equator, but at 9,000 feet, 10˚C nights, 20˚ days. The Andes and volcanoes are omni-present. A day trip to Cuenca to the south or more colonial architecture, and a day trip to Otavalo to the North to the big Indian market. There are big, open markets, old churches, street photography, old houses, street food, and people of every class. Cloud forests to the west, Amazon basin to the east. Not to mention a day trip to the Galapagos. Photo ops abound virtually everywhere in Ecuador. And it’s inexpensive. Worth considering. I also agree with the people who say Istanbul. Marvelous city.
    Highest Regards,
    Carlos

  12. If you enjoy Japanese temples, Kyoto is easily an 11/10. The gardens too are absolutely spectacular, except they are often closed to the public. I was so lucky my last trip and about a half dozen gardens were opened for the first time in many years (and only open for 5 days!). I tell you, I have never seen such a beautiful place on earth as these meticulous Japanese gardens. Sadly, in a few cases no photography was allowed, but regardless, it was a distinct privilege to be there and witness such amazing beauty. Words cannot describe what the Japanese Zen mind can do with plant life. I literally was near tears to leave some of these gardens, knowing that I most likely wont ever be able to witness them again.

    Kyoto is so very beautiful. Get the touristy “must see” temples off your list quickly and then concentrate on the lesser known temples. They are every bit as beautiful as the more popular ones but with no people in them!

  13. Great summary. Support what you say about Chicago, NYC, Pague and Venice, towns I have explored myself with a camera. Your list is a good input to a bucket list. Thanks for sharing.

  14. Interesting list. I think that one’s choices depend a lot of what one photographs and how. Some smaller places are very interesting in their own right, like many historic cities in Italy. Big cities tend to be interesting because there are a lot of people and places in them, but then some big cities are downright boring. For example, I didn’t find Berlin so interesting; too spread out, need to know the places to find something good. In contrast, NYC is a photographic goldmine, though one needs to work a bit to avoid cliches.

  15. Lucy march says:

    I highly recommend the capital cities of Scandinavia. Wonderful architecture and waterfronts, lovely people and spectacular light in the summer.

  16. So much time and effort. Very useful. Thank you!

  17. Very useful list and tips. Thanks
    I would suggest Istanbul, as others have already. My personal favourite being Morocco. Would love to see what you would come out with from there. I consider it a street photography paradise.

  18. This list might have to inform my priorities on international travel…

    Chicago, SF, and Hanoi are the only cities where our lists intersect — and I have to concur with your sentiments on them. Hanoi was my first visit to Asia and was where I shot my first “real” camera: I had just gotten married and my wife insisted on bringing her old Rebel. I couldn’t put it down. 🙂

    I have to say, after just getting back from visiting Vancouver, it’s easily as good as Chicago from an architecture perspective, if not better, and just as photo friendly. If you ever get a chance to go, I’d recommend it.

    Also, if you ever decide to do a landscape masterclass in the US, I’m totally in.

  19. Hong kong gets a 8 for photo friendliness. Must be kidding. I will give it a 3 and at most a 5. Being a local, if have been chased and screamed at. I do love the place but it is definitely not friendly.

    • You have to be stealthier, my friend…as smooth as the best chee cheong fun and darker than that alley behind your office at night. 😛

    • I’ve been to Hong Kong now 30 some times and have rarely ever had any issues photographing there (and I carry medium format film cameras, not discreet at all). The only thing I can remember is that a shop lady screamed at me for photographing a bunch of her hanging bananas right at the store front. Other than that, it’s been all good and is my typical retreat spot (like Ming uses Tokyo).

  20. Excellent list, awesome images. Thanks for sharing. And you’ve added my city Vienna 🙂 If you plan to come back, let me know.

  21. Excellent list. But come on, 5 for KL and 6 for Jakarta? How many excellent portfolios you have shown from KL on these pages over the past years? I doubt you could put together even one from Jakarta…I would rate KL at least 7 and Jakarta at most at 3, exactly for the reasons you pointed out. Just returned from Jakarta this evening by the way.

  22. Thank you for the useful list. Which of the locations would you visit with your family (as it is today) if the plan was to do some personal photography on the side? Some of the opportunities are less accessible that way.

  23. Gordon Lewis says:

    Much of what you said about Tokyo could apply to my home town of Los Angeles, California. It is both populous and spread out. Some areas are a photographic wasteland, others are a goldmine if you know where and when to look. The large area makes it difficult to explore by foot. The heavy traffic makes it equally hard to explore by car. The upside is that Angelenos are so used to the constant presence of TV and film crews that photographers are a minor annoyance at worst. In fact, some are such exhibitionists that they would be slightly offended if you didn’t photograph them.

  24. what an awesome list. thank you for posting. i’d never thought to think about a place in terms of photo friendly.

  25. Extremely helpful, thank you very much. Glad to see that my hometown (Oxford) is on the list, and we have booked to go to Venice in a few weeks’ time. I would add one thing to London: in my experience there are some good opportunities in the older, East London (Spitalfields area, for example), south of the Thames in places like Greenwich, Borough Market and the South Bank, and north in areas like Hampstead with its views back over the city. It’s often said that London is really a series of villages and it pays to travel around quite a lot. Googling a bit can produce some DIY London walks with a list of sights along the way. Just my 2 cents.

  26. Marco Ricca says:

    May I sugest Porto in Portugal? It’s one of the most beautiful, romantic and photogenic citiy. And the pportuguese are avery friendly people.

  27. I’ve managed to visit, or indeed, live in about 50% of your nicely detailed list. 🙂 Cuba and Japan being the notable and very much desire to visit exceptions..
    Might I add Shanghai? Fabulous architecture on the Bund, the French Quarter, the view from the 101st floor of the World Financial Centre (soon to be dwarfed by a new one!), fantastic food of every variety. Take the Maglev train, stay at the Astor House Hotel. I visited during the World Fair, and made more pictures than in any other city I have ever visited.

    • I have to admit, China scares the hell out of me. It isn’t a friendly place to a foreign-born Chinese who looks chimes but can’t speak mandarin.

      • Hieronymous says:

        You must have a pretty nervous disposition, then. China is one of the easiest countries to visit.

        • My guess is you’re not of the same racial background as I am, otherwise you’d understand.

          • I’m not Asian, but I lived in Shanghai, and I understand 🙂 I had a colleague in a similar position to you – his parents were born in China but he grew up overseas and didn’t speak mandarin. It was more a source of irritation to him than anything else, mind you, in Shanghai you can easily get around with no Chinese, there’s something like 150,000 westerners living there, most of whom speak almost zero Chinese. I’d say Shanghai is actually easier than Taipei if you only speak English (although smaller Chinese cities are much harder than smaller Taiwanese cities). The main problem photographically I found in Shanghai is that the weather is so awful. Grey skies and bright but flat light, even when the pollution is not too bad. I’m sure you could do it justice, though, highly recommend you go one day, and also visit Nanjing, which is a much more pleasant city and very close.

            A great list, anyway, I’ve only visit about half of these so far, so plenty more to add to my list!

            • It is amazing that Ming hasnt been to China. The photographic opportunities here are staggering to the mind. Like you I live in Shanghai (for only 4 more weeks, my 6 years here is almost over) and speak zero Chinese. In today’s modern China, dealing with English speakers is simply a non issue. Locals would think that MIng were Korean or Japanese if he didnt speak Mandarin.

              Shanghai, Beijing, Xi’an, Suzhou, Nanjing, and dozens of staggeringly beautiful rural areas are all photographic trips-of-a-lifetime.

          • My wife is Chinese and cannot speak a word of the local language in Shanghai. She’s from northern China and her dialect is 100% different from Shanghainese. Most Chinese don’t even speak Mandarin, far preferring their local dialects.

            • Michiel953 says:

              I visited Beijing on business in November 1998 (WTC Hotel), took my FM2n, the 35/2.0AiS and some rolls of Fuji 400? color negative film. I got out of the conference rooms as often as I could an just walked around with the camera, through the kampongs that still existed in the city centre then. The people were very friendly mostly, but then I look very Western European, and that was a different time. Amazingly soft and diffuse light with all that air pollution.

  28. Hi Ming, Ever fancied South Asia? India?

  29. I am surprised you rated Melbourne so high… Photo friendliness – I rate it 4 or 5 at most. Got told off so many times when I raised the camera, especially a DSLR.

  30. Andreas Jakl says:

    Dear Mr Thein,
    concerning my hometown Vienna, Austria: May I correct – it’s “Naschmarkt”, not Nachtmarkt.
    Thanks for all the perfect work.

  31. Colin Smith says:

    Lovely to see your travel photographs like this, it clearly showcases your immense talent and vision, and great tips to boot.

  32. Bern and the Bernese Oberland
    Istanbul
    Connemara, Ireland; not a city, go for the scenery

  33. Thank you for the list, Ming.
    Do you have any photos of Barcelona online? I’m asking because I’ve been there for the first time 2 months ago and I fell in love with this city.

  34. Very interesting assessments. I especially agree with what you said about Cuba. Unfortunately that friendliness is likely to evaporate when 10K Americans a week start arriving next year. Also as increased investment capital becomes available, improved infrastructure will eliminate a good portion of what photographers consider charm, but hopefully will improve the daily life of those who live there.

  35. Gerner Christensen says:

    Oh Ming, this is such an exciting ride around the world. Thank you for the effort.

    May I add

    Berlin
    8/10
    7/10

    Ljubljana, SLO
    8/10
    8/10

    Aarhus, DK
    9/10
    9/10

    Copenhagen
    8/10
    8/10

    Istanbul
    9/10
    9/10

    🙂

    • Gerner Christensen says:

      ..Euw .. fogot

      Manchester
      9/10
      9/10

    • I would never have guessed Aarhus – any reason in particular, Gerner?

      • Gerner Christensen says:

        By the sea. Incredible quality of the light. The City of the Smiles. And a very interesting architecture (with people in it). The City is small and the density of the photoresque scenes is spectacular 🙂

        • Hieronymous says:

          And Thorsten Overgaard is from there. So at least you have a chance to meet one decent photographer on your trip.

    • Having moved to Copenhagen some months ago I would lift the opportunities figure even higher. It may be hard to find all of them during a short visit, but I don’t feel like I’ll be running out of new places and themes to shoot anytime soon. A weekend trip to Aarhus is definitely in order sometime soon.

      • On my list of things to do – once my currency strengthens again…

        • …and I don’t even shoot much architecture, which is plentiful, and from different eras. Definitely expensive though, especially accommodation and food – especially for a foodie – not to even mention Phase One cameras 😉 Hopefully I’ll still be around if you find your way up here one day.

          • Don’t get me started on Phase One. I’ve tried to contact them twice when looking into MF kit, with serious considerations for their system firstly before I bought the Hasselblad V back, and then the Pentax. Never got a reply. It would seem they’re not particularly interested in selling me a camera…

        • I’d love to see what you guys can get out of Copenhagen – as Ming comments about KL I think it’s hard to be objective about where you live 🙂

          /U

  36. Hey Ming thanks for this. You just built the ideal itinerary for a trip to Japan, which is high on my bucket list, and made me wznt again to visit Vietnam…

  37. honorer79 says:

    im fully agree with you ming, im on jakarta not much we can do here for making picture.

  38. Living in downtown Chicago and being interested in architectural and street photography, I couldn’t agree with you more that it’s a 10/10. When you come for your next workshop, exit Millennium Park over the Geary bridge and check out the new Maggie Daley Park. If sunny, great shadows of climbers on the new climbing wall. Don’t think you got down to the harbor last time you were here, but that can offer some nice photo opportunities, too. Another great photo excursion is renting a small boat for a couple of hours on the Chicago river – you see a lot of the architecture from a unique perspective, get shots of the bridges and other boat traffic, reflections, etc. Let me know if you want more of the inside scoop on Chicago, need help from a local to arrange something, etc.

    • Thanks for the offer, Tom – will get in touch if anything comes to mind 🙂

      Unfortunately no, I didn’t have time to explore the whole city – I do hope to get a bit further afield in September, but the schedule is so packed I’m not sure…

  39. Samy’s is a decent place for camera gear in San Francisco (Bryant @ 9th). Pricing is usually competitive with B&H.

  40. Andrew Murray says:

    Love the idea of this list. Sort of a great database / tool / app even for travelling photographers.I have travelled alot of these towns and think your are absolutely spot on !

    My Home Town Brisbane, Australia.

    Sadly.
    Photo friendliness – ~6/10?
    Photo opportunities – intelligent guess~3/10?

    http://www.news.com.au/travel/travel-updates/brisbane-is-one-of-the-worlds-ugly-cities-says-philosopher-alain-de-botton/story-e6frfq80-1226867420594

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