5 Yorkshire Coast Photography Locations

Visiting Yorkshire?

The coast is well worth a visit for anyone, especially photographers. Here are 5 places to call into with your camera. All these photos were taken on one day – Sunday 1st December 2013 – during a McFade Photography workshop, proving you can get a huge variety of subject in 20 miles of coast!

Robin Hood’s Bay



The steep road into fishing village Robin Hood’s Bay takes you through a labyrinth of tiny, steep cobbled streets and colourful cottages. On a bright day, contrasting black and white photos are perfect. This photo is next to the sea wall, using the walls of the alley to frame the brightly lit white building opposite.

As you get to the foot of the hill you’ll see boats, a lifeboat centre and the bay itself. It’s a long sweeping bay with stunning views down to Ravenscar. Photos of The Bay Inn are iconic – if you walk out onto the rocks and find a suitable rock pool, set your tripod low, you can get a prefect reflection of this iconic pub.





In Whitby Dracula, goths, steps, Cook and the Abbey are all secondary to Fish and Chips.

Not strictly true, but it’s rare to make visit without checking out one of it’s many fisheries – they all compete to be best, so the standards are high.

There are boats, whale bones, jet, piers and harbour walls, distinct architecture from different eras and much more at this, the busiest and largest of the 5 locations on this list.




You can see Whitby Abbey from Sandsend – it’s that close.

A long sandy beach with pebbles and attractively shaped cliffs at one end – as seen in this photo.

The main attraction for the photographer are the “groynes”, those wooden sand walls you see along beaches. These ones are old, knurled, sanded and weathered into beautiful curved shapes, revealing the rich wood grain. These are found by the sea wall in the village, alas they were under water yesterday – so we were unable to make the most of them. Best time of day is after high tide as the water is going out. You need to be there when the waves stop reaching the wall so you can stand your tripod safely.

We’d recommend waterproof boots or wellington boots, so you can let the waves pass under the tripod – then when it’s receding into the sea, start the exposure to capture the movement of the foam back to the sea.


The highlight for many coastal visitors is Staithes, the definition of a Yorkshire Fishing Village. Steep roads, houses stacked almost on top of each other, a tidal river which has boats banked or bobbing, a harbour wall on which to stand and “that” view made famous by photographers such as Joe Cornish.

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These 3 images are taken in a radius of 300 meters – you don’t have to move too far for a totally different shot.

Also, there’s something about going black and white, or sepia toned, which appeals to me. Maybe it’s because the place has no real modernity about it?

The scene from high above is lovely at all times, but in low light, when the streetlamps come on, it becomes one of the finest scenes in the county.



And finally, once it goes dark you pack up and go home – right?

Well no – a 25 minute drive from Staithes takes you to Saltburn and Yorkshire’s only pier (that I know of anyway).

A local genius decided to light below the pier – turning this attractive pier into a photographic treat.

Shoot from south to north, you get the red sky from Teeside.

Shoot from north to south, a far darker sky.

Shoot down the pier legs for some crazy perspective shots

Shoot wide lenses, shoot long lenses


So much choice…

One thing to look out for is sinking tripods – if you’re in a wet sand area, ┬ábed your tripod legs in well before you shoot, or you may notice “slurred” shots!


So there are 5 of the northern gems on the coast – there are far more further south, Scarborough, filey and the stunning Flamborough head, so don’t think this is list is complete. I just think this route is the best for variety and photographic opportunity.

Doing all 5 is certainly an amazing day out for the adventurous and fast moving photographer.

If I had to choose 1, it’d be Staithes – but happily, you don’t have to choose 1!


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