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Which cities do you like to photograph most? Learn how to be a travel journalist — check out the curricula at MatadorU today.

Photo: Medina, Marrakech by Paul Sullivan

AS A PHOTOGRAPHER there’s nothing quite like stalking around a city, camera in hand, attempting to capture something of its nuances, atmosphere and people as the newness assaults you from all sides.

Obviously, this is easier said than done. Those who photograph cities best tend to have lived there a long time, such as Garry Winogrand, whose iconic images speak volumes about New York, or Hungarian photographer Brassai, whose black and white images of Paris are uniquely evocative.

But even as a “tourist” (as opposed to a resident) it’s possible to be bowled over by some cities more than others. Personally, when I’m in cities like Marrakech, Istanbul or Las Vegas I just can’t stop shooting. These places offer so much in the way of exotic sights and beautiful architecture or – in the case of LV – audacious flamboyance that I could happily spend weeks wandering around capturing images.

Conversely Rome, Singapore or Sao Paulo don’t do much for me at all.

Then again when you consider there are over 3,000 cities in the world – almost 500 of them with over a million inhabitants – I have to confess I’ve only been to a relative handful. So of all the cities in all the world: which one would you say is the most photogenic?

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About The Author

Paul Sullivan

Paul Sullivan is a freelance writer, author, editor and photographer covering music, travel and culture. His writing and photography work has been published in The Guardian, Sunday Times Travel, National Geographic UK, Matador Network, Wax Poetics, XLR8R and more, and he has scribed/snapped several guidebooks for Time Out, HG2, Rough Guide, Cool Camping and others. He currently lives in Berlin, where he runs the sustainable travel portal Slow Travel Berlin. Check out his photography website, follow him on Twitter or join hisFacebook photography page.

  • Luke Ford

    In my opinion, Sana’a, the captivating capital city of Yemen, is the most photogenic city in the world! It’s truly one of the most beautiful places, and I hope more people will visit!

  • jkiel

    Well, Vegas doesn’t do anything for me, probably because it’s too close… I never get tired of shooting in Rome, Venice or Florence, but in response to your question, I’d have to go along with Imogene Cunningham’s quote: “Which of my photographs is my favorite? The one I’m going to take tomorrow.” (just replace ‘photographs’ with ‘city’…)

  • The Jetpacker

    Budapest, Hungary. Everything looks so elegant… even the graffiti.

  • Anna

    Good question – really got me thinking….

    Tokyo is one of my favourites for sure ( potentially most Japanese cities really). It offers every element possible, street scenes, temples, eclectic people, nature, modern vs traditional, interesting food…etc etc.

    I also took more shots in Barcelona than most places in Europe. Mostly the back streets and again interesting people – plus you have all of Gaudi’s work.

    Marrakech and Cairo are also favourites, I get something different everytime i’m in London too though.

  • Spencer Spellman

    Vegas is initially good for me that first time, but quickly loses it’s luster. I personally like Prague.

  • Hal Amen

    Valpo’s easy on the lens. Cuzco’s pretty sweet too. And yeah, Tokyo.

  • zagmage

    having only travelled europe, i’m not passing judgement on any other part of the world. having said that, i believe that istanbul has the best scenery

  • Amanda

    I would definitely have to say Prague, Czech Republic or the Greek Isles (specifically, Santorini).

    But I totally agree with you on Marrakech — I would never get bored there.

  • Rosie

    For me it would have to be London or Madrid. I think they are two cities that are so diverse that whatever I want to photograph I can find in them – Ok I won´t find a snow capped mountain but I guess nowhere is perfect.

  • Amy E.

    I would say my favorite area (it’s not actually a city) was Yangshuo, China. The rounded mountains and vibrant people make it difficult to put away your camera. Istanbul and Marrakech were definite contenders though.

  • António C.

    Lisbon is definitely a city with a lot of potential. The amazing light you get with the massive Tagus estuary combined with white pavement across the city is very special. Add architecture and the atmosphere and it really creates a great photografic exploration.

  • Scott

    for graphic contrast, blues and whites, curves and lines – any small Greek island town . . . for architectural and temporal contrast, Paris . . . for people, for spirit and something I can’t quite put my finger on (though I’ve lived there for over a year). Varanasi, India . . . and yes, Yangshuo, on the river Li, the limestone fangs, the other-worldly flora along the river . . . the market in Peshawar, Pakistan, Afghani men, delicately drinking tea from small porcelain cups, the butts of m-16′s protruding from beneath their shawls . . .

  • Jen

    San Francisco…I live here, and am constantly wishing I had a camera for a quick shot of a person, or some weather change on the horozon. Its beautiful!All though I agree Valpo surely gives it a run for its $$

  • Eva

    I had a ball shooting in Stockholm – all the islands and bridges made getting a good view pretty much effortless.

  • Anna Bressan

    Definitelly and no comments needed to add: RIO DE JANEIRO/BRAZIL

  • Pedro Novaes

    Rio de Janeiro, no doubt, for the stunning contrast between mountain and sea, vertical rock and flat blue ocean.

  • Connergo

    Interesting topic! And nice to see at least ONE latin american city getting the photo vote (and the people are as fun to photograph in rio as anything else)…

    Surprised – given the number of coffee table books on the market – that no one mentioned my city: HAVANA.

    there’s a photo a minute here!

  • Wanderlust

    I have to agree with several of these – Rio, San Fran, and Prague but would also throw Dubrovnik into the mix. What excites me most is that multiple people listed Yangshou and Valparaiso and I will be visiting both within the year!

    • Prasun

      Yes, Praha is indeed very beautiful. Full of picture postcard places, nice souvenir shops and stuff.

  • Cat

    Rare is the moment I don’t have my camera on me in my adopted city of Seville, Spain. Everything from the food to the gypsies to the ceramic tiles in bars never fails to inspire me.

    Marrakech also tops my list, as well as Croatia as a whole. Colors. Just lots of colors.

  • Prasun

    It’s got to be Delhi. This city was built 7 times over the last 1000 years with each ruler/dynasty leaving behind their unique imprint on the city. The current city(New Delhi) is the 8th one. It’s got over 1000 protected monuments, nice friendly people, wonderful markets, great street food and a world class metro rail system

  • HyderabadChick

    Goa – a small state, rather than a city but it has many picturesque sites.

    Rajasthan, another state – with the desert sands and colorfully dressed people. I’ve never even been – but have been drawn to so many paintings, photographs both amateur and professional. I can’t wait to visit.

    Capri and Anacapri – all that blue, blue water..

  • Anna Bressan

    Budapest is magic and yellow!

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