Top 10 Spots to Photograph in Toronto
Tyler McKay (@tylersjourney) is a Toronto-based photographer. He has dedicated his time to shooting cityscapes and street photography. His signature work focuses on fine-tuned Lightroom Editing and vibrant night street photography. Along with following him on his instagram, check out more of his work at www.tylersjourney.com
Toronto, Ontario is my home and my favorite place to roam around with my camera, I want to showcase the classic locations we have here and the stories behind them. When I first moved to Toronto I constantly searched instagram looking for interesting spots to shoot. As a photographer, I know how stressful the scouting process is and created this guide to ease some of that pain. You may be reading this because you are either planning a trip to Toronto or are already in the city. In this travel guide I focus on a few spots you may have seen on instagram and also added in some unique and lesser known photography locations which I have found over the past 6 years of living in downtown Toronto.
1. King & Bay St. // Financial District
At the intersection of King and Bay Street in downtown Toronto you will find this awesome view of the CN Tower sandwiched between the two TD bank tower skyscrapers. This street is a busy intersection with many street cars that come every few minutes and there's an abundance of people to photograph. It has many angles and multiple classic compositions that every Toronto photographer loves. I chose this location for you because it has some of the most iconic Toronto locations all in one spot for quick easy access.
2. Gooderhamm Building // Front St & Church St View of Gooderhamm Building
One of my favorite buildings is Toronto’s Flatiron Building the Gooderhamm, it is a historic office building built in 1892 located at 49 Wellington Street East. For me and my photographer friends we call this first shot the most famous puddle in all of Toronto, it is probably photographed every time it rains. You will see a few photographers around here and there but nothing crazy. It is a popular tourist and restaurant area so expect a good amount of people around which is perfect for street photography.
3. Old City Hall // Queen St & Bay Street View of City Hall
Just between the Eaton Center Shopping mall on Queen Street and Toronto’s old city hall are a few great locations to shoot and also when you want to relax there is our biggest downtown shopping mall next to you and also Nathan Phillips Square a giant outdoor area. There are many great compositions and view points of this area, two pedestrian bridges that go above Queen St. with very easy access. The futuristic Eaton Center bridge lights up at night and always looks great in photos, if you want to shoot inside of it go during mall hours. One little tip is to shoot it right before they close the gate around closing time, if you ask the guard who is closing it very nicely to allow you to snap a few photos you can get a shot without any people in it.
4. View from Bathurst Street Bridge // Intersection of Bathurst St & Front St
This is the perfect clear shot for looking at downtown Toronto. The train tracks make perfect leading lines to the city and of course the trains are the icing on top. Trains come all times of the day and night though as well just not as often not during rush hour times so don’t stress if you aren’t here during rush hour. The good thing about this spot is the bridge is huge so plenty of spots for you to set up your tripod, you’ll see a few photographers here now and again but mostly it’s really chill. A little tip if you are a new photographer and want to try something different is to put your camera on a tripod get a composition you are happy with and don’t move your frame, at night you can take multiple long exposure photos of train light trails and blend them together in photoshop for the perfect train light trail effects.
5. Filmores Hotel - Dundas St. E and George St.
To me this is an iconic location with unique compositions to be had because the building is situated on a curved road which you can utilize as great leading lines. I suggest trying to use the Streetcar tracks and painted lines to your advantage to lead the eye to this historic building. The building is home to a hotel and gentlemen's club, the area can be a little sketchy at night but hey, not everything will always be sunshine and rainbows.
6. Yonge & Dundas Square - Yonge St. & Dundas St.
This is easily one of my favorite spots to shoot, many call it the mini Times Square because of all the neon signs. It is also home to the busiest intersection in all of Toronto which makes for amazing street photography, you can catch Streetcars passing here very often. One little tip-directly above the square there is a bar restaurant that is open spring to fall weather dependent called Jack Astor’s, for the price of a beer and or food you can sit out on the patio and snap photos of the square from above for a more unique perspective looking down on the busy streets and neon signs. I think it looks best to photograph this spot at night.
7. Polson Pier - 11 Polson St.
If you want that perfect iconic city skyline view of Toronto you have now found it! Plenty of room with a large waterfront boardwalk to set-up your camera. This spot is the best for sunset chasing. You will regularly find at least a few photographers here taking in the views.
8. Spadina Quay Marina
This is a great location for night time reflections of the CN Tower. I suggest bringing a tripod and trying out some long exposures, but also don’t forget to try out shorter exposure times to capture detail in the clouds like I did above. This is a relaxing safe spot at night with people walking around often.
9. Toronto Islands
No trip to Toronto is complete without a trip to the islands. It is only a 13-minute ferry ride from downtown Toronto. Boats to the Island leave from the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal at the foot of Bay St. and Queen’s Quay. The Island is actually a group of 15 islands inter-connected by pathways and bridges. You can walk from one end of the Island to the other.
The island is approximately 5 kms long from Ward's Island to Hanlan's Point. I highly suggest renting a bike from Toronto Bike Share before you get on the Ferry, the machines takes credit cards. It can get kind of expensive though so check the prices. The island is super big so I always find biking lets me make the best use of my time getting around quicker and spending more time with my camera at all the great spots.
10. China Town - Dundas St. & Spadina Ave
China Town is the perfect place if you love neon signs for either street or portrait photography. I suggest starting around Dundas & Spadina and wandering around from there. It is always super busy in this area and you always end up with an amazing street photograph if you spend just a bit of time here. Try gearing up for the rain when it is in the forecast and look for the neon lights reflecting off the wet streets like seen in the photo I included for this location.