If you are planning a trip to photograph Leeds, where should you go?
Like most cities, Leeds Centre and shopping areas are largely bland (with a few exceptions…) and many shopping centres actually ban you from taking photographs inside. If you have a tripod they will definitely ask you to move along.
Having photographs Leeds since 2003 here are some of the highlights I would recommend to every photographer visiting.
All of these photos are from my own archives built up over fast approaching 20 years! The time of day and the weather when you arrive will dictate whether any of the buildings look like any of the following, these are my favourites from probably several hundred trips into town!
Also, please note that these are all copyright to McFade and available to licence if you get in touch via the contact form at the bottom of the page.
1 The Canal and River Aire
Like every city in the UK, the river and is always a great place to start and in Leeds we have, have the River Aire and the Leeds Liverpool canal meeting right in the centre next to the train station – then flowing out east where where it becomes another canal which heads out towards Hull.
The first of these photos is the canal in the west of the city centre, the second is is a Footbridge at Brewery Wharf which is very picturesque and the final on is is on the east of the city just passed the Royal Armouries.
2 Park Square
This is quite an unexpected thing to find in amongst all the streets near the city centre, but you have a wonderfully kept grassy Square surrounded by lovely buildings, the most striking being St Paul’s building which has a Moorish architecture Style.
3 -Leeds City Markets
One of the finest buildings in the city has to be the front Facade of the markets on Vicar Lane. Incredibly decorative Victorian architecture with domes on each corner, little cherubs above the doors and a real feast for the eyes.
4 The Corn Exchange
London has the Albert Hall, Manchester has its majestic library and Leeds has its Corn Exchange.
There’s something about these round buildings which just looks cool, this one was designed by architect Cuthbert Broderick in the Victorian era and now contains lots of shops and food options.
Definitely go all the way around the building on the outside because each angle has a different feel and the light will vary throughout the day so you want to pick an angle where you have have some light and Shadow.
At the time of writing the security staff are more welcoming than anywhere else in the city allowing you to freely wander around with your camera and in most cases you can use your tripod, though it is very bright in there so you probably don’t need to
5 Leeds Museum
Following on from one Cuthbert Broderick masterpiece two another one which started out life as Leeds Mechanics Institute, then in recent years has become the Museum. They do allow you to go indoors with your camera and if you get caught short there is a toilet you can use for free.
The most interesting thing to photograph are the Majestic outdoor reviews of the building, it’s pretty imposing and you can get some really great angles if you move around.
6 – The Royal Armouries & New Dock
Just off to the city centre down the canal, you will find a little city called new dock – it was once called Clarence Dock but they have rebranded recently.
This is home to the Royal Armouries collection in a majestic building called the Royal Armouries, but it’s also a lovely watery dock area with interesting architecture down both sides. It’s probably the best place in Leeds for modern architecture and on a windless day you get perfect reflections in the water.
The security staff will probably approach you if you have a tripod and look professional, but so long as you are sure of them that you are doing it just For Fun, which I’m sure you will be, they leave you to get on with enjoying the area.
7 – Granary Wharf and the Dark Arches
Literally beneath the train station is a rabbit Warren of tunnels which are called the dark Arches, though they are not very dark these days because they have lit them up into a spectacular light show of colour.
When you walk down the tunnel you pass the brand new South entrance to the train station which is a gold bronze colour and a real space age thing to look at, then you finally arrived at the wash where there is a wooden looking building a hotel and a massive cylinder called candle Tower.
You also have two locks and a view of the train lines, so it is a bit of a feast for the photographer.
8 – Victoria Quarter and Shopping Area
The shopping areas are not the best to photograph mainly because overzealous security guards and hordes of people getting in your way.
But the Victoria Quarter is well worth a look if you are prepared to hand hold your camera and move reasonably quickly so as not to become a problem for the security guards.
It is a beautiful arcade on one side cold County Arcade, then there is a second one Cold Cross arcade which runs perpendicular through a covered Street. This used to be a normal Road but they put a massive window across the top which some say is the biggest stained glass window in the world.
The area is full of shops selling fine shoes watches clothing and food.
9 – University Area
The University area is on Otley Road and and is pretty expensive, with a mix of architectural styles from the ultra-modern broadcasting house which uses the same metal colour and Preservation style as the Angel of the North, a Car Park which resembles a cheese grater, traditional neoclassical old building, some concrete brutalist structures and lots more.
You’ve also got ponds in which to reflect things and staircases where you can put models, so it’s a great location away from the masses of shoppers and tourists.
10 – Leeds Town Hall
The Jewel In The Crown of Cuthbert trio of amazing buildings has to be the Stirling Town Hall with it’s neoclassical Pillars at the front and massive clock tower which dominates the skyline in this part of the city.
I’ve convinced the best view of this is from the Mr Foley’s Ale House, if you shoot from here sunset the light comes in from the left-hand side illuminating the front of the building leaving the right hand side In Darkness, giving the whole photograph of 3D appeal.
If it is dark you can set your tripod up there and wait for cars to rush by leaving the light trails in the foreground of your photo.
I hope that’s giving you some ideas and inspiration for your next visit in to Leeds city centre.
We do run workshops around the area so if you do fancy a guided to a please check on our workshops website whether there is anything happening around your visit – or even plan your visit to coincide with the workshop.
Our workshops are all at
And if you want to make any enquiries at all just fill in the form at the bottom of the page and we’ll get back to you straight away