Updated: Jun 6, 2019
Sydney is one of the most photogenic cities on the planet. From the cosmopolitan city streets to the beautiful beaches and bushland, there’s a picture-perfect scene around every corner. Whether you’re a local who wants to up your Instagram game or a visitor who wants to leave with a camera roll of carefully curated memories, our friends at Ted’s Cameras have put together a guide of the 10 best photography spots in Sydney.
#1 Mrs Macquarie’s Point
Back in 1810, convicts carved a chair out of a sandstone rock for Governor Macquarie’s wife so she could admire the water views whenever she was homesick. Today, Mrs Macquarie’s Point offers panoramic views over Sydney Harbour, and it’s the perfect spot to capture two Sydney landmarks – the Harbour Bridge and Opera House – in the one frame. Since all the large ships that cruise into the harbour pass by Mrs Macquarie’s Point, it’s also ideal for long exposures. The best time to go is sunset. We suggest arriving around 30 minutes before the sun is due to dip below the horizon, so you have time to play around with a few vantage points and set up your tripod. Don’t forget your wide-angle lens!
#2 Bondi Beach
Going to Sydney and not snapping Bondi Beach would be like visiting Paris and skipping the Eiffel Tower. When you get there, head to South Bondi, which is home to Bondi Icebergs – the most iconic ocean pool in the country. The pool overlooks the crashing waves below, and the mix of Mother Nature and manmade beauty is a photographer’s dream. Unfold your tripod at Nott’s Avenue just before sunrise, and capture the sun streaking the sky in vivid colours, and the locals starting their days with a swim or walk. When you’re done, go down to the promenade to get close-up shots of the colourful murals, or tackle the Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk. It’s one of the best things to do in Sydney, and the rugged track is full of photo opportunities, like Tamarama Beach and Wylie’s Baths.
#3 Taronga Zoo
If you’re a landscape or wildlife photographer, you could spend hours at Taronga Zoo. A Sydney must-do, the zoo is home to rare and exotic animals such as elephants, chimps and lemurs, as well as native fauna like kangaroos, koalas and platypus. Some of them are shy, and others are curious creatures who will work it for the camera! The zoo also hosts free-flight bird shows and seal shows, so catch those before making your way up to the African area. It’s perched on a sloping hill, so you’ll be able to snap photos of giraffes against a background of the harbour in all its glory.
#4 Barrenjoey Lighthouse
Next, go north – all the way to Barrenjoey Headland at the tip of the Northern Beaches. The lighthouse sits on the headland, which offers 360-degree views over a string of stunning beaches and lush green landscapes. To get there, you’ll need to stroll up a hill for about a kilometre, but trust us when we say it’s a pretty payoff. It’s a hike, so pack lightweight camera gear and a travel tripod that you can comfortably carry. If you’re making the trip between June and November, don’t forget to bring binoculars – the headland is a famous whale-watching spot.
#5 The Grounds of Alexandria
The Grounds is a café, restaurant, bar, bakery, market and florist rolled into one picturesque package. It’s the definition of rustic-chic, with weathered buildings, whimsical decor and fresh produce carts, and a charming garden and animal farm outside. Sitting inside a former pie factory, the raw brick walls and lush greenery juxtapose in the most beautiful way – so it’s no wonder why The Grounds is not only a foodie destination, but an Instagram sensation. If you don’t have much room in your camera bag, take an all-in-one zoom lens so you can capture any feature that piques your interest.
#6 North Sydney Olympic Pool
There are swimming pools, and then there’s the North Olympic Swimming Pool – which sits under the Sydney Harbour Bridge. With that iconic backdrop, the pool is a go-to for local and international photographers alike. For a fresh perspective on a much-loved scene, experiment with long exposures and black and white photography. Afterwards, head next door to Luna Park to capture the rollercoasters and concession stands in bold, eye-catching colour.
#7 Watson’s Bay
At the very end of Sydney’s eastern suburbs, Watsons Bay is drop-dead gorgeous. With seascapes and landscape opportunities galore, as a photographer, the question is: where to start? There’s Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel, a quintessentially Sydney watering hole that’s marked by its whitewashed walls and blue-and-white umbrellas. It has a front-row seat to the beach, which stretches all the way to Sydney Harbour. If you want to explore the area further, you can walk the South Head Heritage Trail and you’ll be rewarded with uninterrupted views over the harbour and city skyline. Keep strolling, and you’ll come across the candy-striped Hornby Lighthouse and The Gap Lookout – both of which shine brightest at sunrise.
Is urban photography more your thing? Spend some time at Carriageworks in the inner-city suburb of Eveleigh. Once an old railway track and blacksmith’s workshop, the 19th century building was converted into an arts hub a few years ago, and it’s stunning in a very industrial way. The iron pylons and exposed beams hint at a bygone era, and there are plenty of nooks and crannies to capture. If you want to inject some colour into your gritty urban photos, plan your trip around the Saturday farmers markets. The stalls are piled high with fresh produce, bread and condiments, so there’s an opportunity to sharpen your food photography, too!
#9 Museum of Contemporary Art
The Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) is Australia’s top contemporary art gallery – and she’s a beauty. Overlooking Circular Quay, the building itself is a masterpiece and a mix of old-meets-new. An Art Deco delight, the sandstone part of the building points to its past, while the ultra-modern, boxy structure next door has one foot firmly in the future. Inside, the museum has more than 4,000 works on display, and often hosts international exhibitions. The hallways are spacious, long, and bursting with bold colour, making them a photo opp themselves.
#10 Cockatoo Island
Sydneysiders know their way in and around the harbour – but what if you could capture it from the other side? Sitting between Hunters Hill and Balmain on the Parramatta River, Cockatoo Island is a 15-minute ferry ride away from the mainland. In the late 1800s, the island was a military base and convict worksite, and it’s World Heritage-Listed for that reason. Start by taking some landscape shots of the harbour, and then stroll along the Clifftop Walk for more jaw-dropping views over the city.
Continue capturing Sydney from every angle
If you have more time in the city, check out Ted's Cameras' three-day Sydney itinerary