Photography Guide, Prague
Continuing my guide on great cites to shoot travel images, today we are going to look at Prague. I have recently returned from a video and aerial photography shoot of both Prague and Dresden. In this article to give you an oversight of the former.
Prague is the capital of the Czech Republic and situated at the heart of central Europe. Despite being a capital, it's relatively small with a population of around 1.4 million.
The photogenic side of Prague is predominantly concentrated on and around the banks of the River Vltava in the old city. The oldest parts of the city date from the 14th Century and within its narrow streets are some beautiful places to photograph.
Some Practical Tips For Travel:
Getting There And Away
Prague’s main airport is Václav Havel. It is a modern, efficient and surprising quiet airport served by airlines from all over the world. However, bear in mind that despite being a modern airport, it's not served by any metro or rail services, there are however public buses and some excellent shuttle services that cost around 10 Euros to your hotel door.
Try to avoid the taxis, especially at the airport and other tourist areas as they have a notorious reputation for ripping people off. Prague is also very well served by trains from all over Europe.
When to Go
My trip was mid-July, which in hindsight was a mistake. June/July does give you the best possibility for sunny days. However, there are caveats for photographers. Firstly, that the sunrise is around 05:00, giving a very early start to your days.
Secondly, with sunsets at 21.30, you are looking at long days too. Lastly, it is peak tourist season and Prague is one of Europe’s major tourist destinations. Even at sunrise, you are going to see huge numbers of people around.
The first are your peers and fellow photographers making the most of this photogenic city. Whilst it’s great to see so many people keen to capture Prague, it is also dispiriting, when you are trying to capture those beautiful predawn quiet scenes that make urban images so emotive.
It is often very difficult to isolate a scene without a photographer in it. The second and potentially more troublesome are drunken revellers returning home. Prague has become Europe’s party and stag-do city, and on any given day there are thousands of young and often exceedingly drunk revellers staggering around the city and potentially staggering into your tripod.
On a different note, so much of creating those memorable and visually stunning city-images is by focusing on the light, perspective, compostion and planning your days to ensure you come away with the shots you intended to make! This guide on “Amazing Sunset Photography” will ensure you have the best tips, techniques, and knowledge of what essential equipment to have with you.
Let's Dive Into The Photography Side of Things
Ideas On What To Shoot In Prague
The iconic images of Prague are often taken from, or of, The Charles Bridge. This 14th Century structure is a pedestrian bridge in the heart of the city and crossing the Vltava River.
Two iconic towers define each end of the bridge and because of its location and symmetry, it is great for both sunrise and sunset shots. At sunset, however, you will be jostling with thousands of tourists on the bridge.
For sunrise shots, there's a children's playground on the west side of the river just to the north. Although it appears locked, it is not and is an excellent place to shot the sun rising and the bridge and city skyline (without the kids!).
It is also possible from the other side of the bridge on the river bank if no tour boats are moored there.
From the east side of the Vltava beside one of the towers, you can get some great shots of Mala Strana and Prague Castle. At sunrise the light is falling on that direction and gives a nice golden look to the red tiled roofs whilst at sunset, the sun drops behind the castle, for sun dramatic shots.
Another of Prague’s iconic locations is Staromestske Nemesti or Old Town Square. Surrounded by beautiful churches and the massive statue of Jana Husa, this is a wonderful place to get some great shots.
There is a caveat though, by 08:00 the square is already filling not only with tourists but also numerous Segway tours guides touting for business. This combines to make shoot the square virtually impossible.
Prague Castle, nestling on a hill above Mala Strana on the west bank of the Vltava is another great location. Best visiting in the late afternoon, early evening as the light will not only be great on the castle itself but also on the panoramic views it affords over the old city of Prague.
It is also possible to shoot the sunrise over the city from the terraces in front of the Castle.
One great location and a little off the tourist trail is Strelecky Ostrov. This is an island in the Vtlava just south of the main city. It is accessed from the Legii Bridge and from it’s northern tip affords great views of the old city, the Charles Bridge and the Mala Strana and the castle.
The light is good all day around for shooting from this location although you will need a long lens to isolate some of the city features. The only issue at the height of summer is the island does not open until 06:00 which is around 50 minutes after sunrise.
Prague is jam-packed with photogenic locations that can be shot all year around. In the height of summer, the sheer numbers of tourists will restrict you to shooting in the early golden hour or from less busy locations but overall the city is a photographer’s delight.
So much of creating those memorable and visually stunning city-images is by focusing on the light, perspective, compostion and planning your days to ensure you come away with the shots you intended to make! This guide on “Amazing Sunset Photography” will ensure you have the best tips, techniques, and knowledge of what essential equipment to have with you.
- 8 Essential Tips for More Interesting City Shots by Jason D. Little
- Urban and City Photography by LightStalking
- These Two Simple Elements Can Improve Your City Photography Compositions by Mark McGowan