Capturing a city in a day

The urban environment of the world’s towns and cities provides photographers easy access to the greatest variety of subject matter. In the time it takes to walk a block or two, you can photograph panoramic skylines; people up close, at work or at play; abstract architectural details; frenetic street activity; and peaceful park scenes.

You can capture elements of the past and the present through the city’s architecture in one carefully composed street scene, focus in on torn wall posters in a dimly lit alleyway and within minutes be framing up the most recognisable landmark in the city.

Cities and towns are rich in subject matter and offer round-the-clock photo opportunities. In this itinerary, renowned travel photographer Richard I'Anson lays out a basic framework for getting the most moments from a city in one day no matter where you are in the world:

1. Rise before dawn to get to a predetermined location before the sun rises to capture the classic skyline or city view at first light.

2. Make your way to the waterfront for early-morning activity.

3. Head into the city centre for people- and traffic-free architectural pictures of key buildings and quiet streetscapes.

4. As the city wakes up, head to the morning produce markets for an hour or so.

5. Back to the main thoroughfares and city squares as peak-hour crowds and traffic build up for busy streetscapes.


Kolkata, India by Richard I'Anson

6. Walk the streets searching out new views, urban details, interesting shops and people engaged in daily activities.

Image of Ljubljana, Slovenia by Richard I'Anson

7. A late-morning visit to the city’s museums and art galleries.

Image by Mark Broadhead

8. Get to an outdoor-eating precinct in the middle of the day as cafes fill with lunchtime crowds.

9. Take an early-afternoon walk around shopping precincts before visiting places further from the city centre, including parklands and beaches.

10. Mid-afternoon, check out the craft markets and city squares to photograph souvenir stalls, street performers and people shopping.

11. Then take a quick walk around the food-market precinct as the cafes and bars get busy.

Outdoor restaurants in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia by Richard I'Anson

12. Late afternoon head to a vantage point for another (and different) city skyline or view.

13. Stay on at the viewpoint to photograph the skyline at dusk as the lights take effect or dash to another location to photograph a key building or streetscape in the half-hour after sunset.

Pudong skyline in Shanghai, China by Richard I'Anson

14. Spend the evening in the night markets, photographing bands playing in bars and people dancing in nightclubs.

Image of Singer and band at Tropicana Club, Miami, USA by Richard I'Anson

15. Rest.