It’s the backbone of our wonderful city, and its been an inspiration to artists for hundreds of years. Here are our top tips so you can get your own stunning photographs of the River Thames.

Keep it still

Photoion Photography School student David Guillaume's picture of the River Thames

This photo by our student David Guillaume uses a tripod and slow shutter speed to capture the stillness of London at night

It can be very windy by the river and to capture the eb and flow of the Thames most precisely you’ll need some stability. You’ll want to use a fairly long exposure so you can encapsulate the water’s silky movements with your lens. To capture this movement effect, bring the tripod! Similarly, avoid camera shake by using a remote shutter releaser.

Go up, or downstream

Canary Wharf night photo by student Jon Wackett

The lights of Canary Wharf in this photo create an exciting night time energy. Photo by our student Jon Wackett

Areas like the Southbank, with its views of Big Ben, or the Tower Bridge, are very popular for that classic London iconography. But to capture a more original photograph, why not not move east to see London’s docking history by the characteristic Wapping, or head further afield to capture the industrial Woolwich and Belvedere. West of the city, photograph the same charm of Richmond that once inspired William Wordsworth.

Slow shutter speed

River Thames photo with slow shutter speed by Ion Paciu

In this photo, our Tutor Ion Paciu used a slow shutter speed to make the river look like a still sheet of water

Water photography sometimes uses fast shutter speeds to get high action images of crashing waves or ocean sprays. But in London, our river is a little more polite. At 2 seconds shutter speed you will start to capture the dreaminess of the river. However, The Thames is fairly sill, so don’t be afraid to go as long as 5 seconds or more and see what you produce. This can have a ghostly, almost supernatural effect! This blurred result from using a show shutter speed isn’t limited to the water. You can also utilise this effect on other moving elements in the frame such as clouds and light from passing cars.

Experiment with day and night time

The Shard and The River Thames photographed at night

The Shard looks ethereal in this photo by student Alan Howe with the night boats passing by below

Capturing an amber sunset while stood on Westminster Bridge is a breathtaking moment. Equally, London’s City and Canary Wharf districts light up at night, making London look more like Manhattan. Early mornings can also provide a beautiful stillness, giving you the perfect opportunity to capture a quieter side to the capital before commuters hustle and bustle their way around.

Play with shadow and reflections

Canary Wharf photographed at night with the River Thames

A stunning example of what you can do with reflection by our student Giovanna Tucker

The jagged shapes of the Walkie Talkie, the Shard and the Gherkin offer amazing opportunities to give your riverside photography a creative edge. It can be tricky to capture the right moment, but the results are playfully rewarding. The lights of the city reflected in the water will also have an abstract effect as the colours swirl with the moving water.

Feeling inspired?

Why not pick up your camera and enter our competition for Photo of the Month? This month’s theme is all about rivers, and the winner will receive £100 in vouchers to spend on our courses or workshops!

Let’s do this!