Visiting St Petersburg from a Photographers Perspective
Updated: Apr 15, 2020
St Petersburg is a fascinating, beautiful and lively city. The main aspect of the city that struck me initially was the architecture. The city is full of incredible buildings all steeped in history. Everytime you visit you could go to completely different areas and still not get bored.
Above was shot at the top of St Isaacs cathedral which is an impressive building itself. It's well worth heading to the top to watch the sunset. Although be warned its quite a climb! It's also worth noting that during the summer in June they have what they call white nights so you won't get a sunset or a sunrise for the entire month.
St Isaacs Cathedral as mentioned before you can see above. This is another building steeped in history and is great to photograph too. Its well worth a visit. You can get a ticket to go to the top spire which gives a great view of the city particularly at sunset for around $7. This is a very popular spot so be prepared to wrestle your way through people to get that shot!
The Church of the Spilled Blood is possibly one of the most popular locations in St Petersburg although it was unfortunately under restoration when I paid my visit in 2019. So double check before you go to see if this is still the case as I felt the excessive amount of scaffolding ruined any potential shots.
Peterhof is just out of St Petersburg centre its around an hour in the car. To get there I used an app called Yandex taxi. You can find this on the app store and its basically like Uber but you pay with cash. I found its a great way to avoid being ripped off as the prices I was getting on this were far lower than anyone quoted me. I think it cost around $12 for the ride there which is very cheap all things considered.
Peterhof is massive there are gardens all around the palace and you can literally spend the day just exploring that. You will have to pay an entry fee to get in and in terms of Russian money its not cheap around $12. Its a fantastic place to get some interesting photographs and absorb the history of the place. After visiting Peterhof we headed back to the city for sunset.
Just wandering around the city you can find numerous compositions and opportunities for shots. I was just walking over a bridge when I took the shot seen above. I couldn't help notice the leading line and side light so couldn't resist taking this shot.
Another excellent location to get some shots is found in the metro stations here's an interesting article about where to find them https://theculturetrip.com/europe/russia/articles/the-most-beautiful-metro-stations-in-st-petersburg/. It doesn't cost much to go on the metro and you can literally just hop about going to all the beautiful stations photograph them then jump onto the next met. The stations just like the city are full of history and are fascinating places to visit.
In terms of safety with your camera gear I personally didn't have any problems or feel threatened at any point of my visit. I didn't take my camera out at night so I would potentially be careful about doing that. However, I found people were more interested in what I was doing than trying to take my equipment.
This leads me nicely onto street photography in the area. As briefly mentioned before people here are not threatening and I found them to be friendly on a whole. Whenever I approached someone for a photograph they never had any problems. I found the city was full of fascinating individuals and felt inspired to partake in a genre I don't usually shoot as often.
The expressions and vibe of the place was incredible, I found it very interesting so attempted to capture it on camera.
To summarise, St Petersburg is an incredible city and well worth a visit. I would highly recommend going as a photographer as you will not run out of inspiration in a place like this.
Thank you for reading and if you have any questions don't hesitate to contact me,