After living in Leeds for 5 years, the city will always have a place in my heart. Leeds has so much culture and soul. Its full of hidden gems and visual delights that make for incredible places to shoot. These places aren’t always immediately obvious though, so after years of hunting out the best shoot locations in Leeds, I thought I would put this round up together. I have had shoots or done my own photography in many of these locations. So whether you’re planning a glossy fashion shoot, you’re a blogger looking to get creative or simply want to try out your new camera, let this post be your definitive guide to the most Instagrammable places in Leeds.
The most Instagrammable places in Leeds
1. The Corn Exchange
It’s an obvious one for anyone that knows Leeds, but I have to start with the magnificent Corn Exchange. You’d be hard pushed to take a bad photo in this beautiful Victorian building. Its transparent ceiling is like a giant soft box, so the lighting is always great. The architecture has perfect symmetry and there is also plenty of colours to play with. Undoubtably one of the most Instagrammable places in Leeds.
2. The Tiled Hall Cafe at Leeds Art Gallery
The Tiled Hall Cafe is a hidden gems and possibly my favourite space in the whole of Leeds. What was once a Victorian reading room is now a bustling cafe in Leeds Art Gallery. After major refurbishment in 2007, the Tiled Hall has been restored to its former glory with all of its intricate turquoise tiling and beautiful ceiling patterns.
3. Royal Armouries
The Royal Armouries makes it onto this list as its a light, bright and modern building. Although the exhibitions themselves are dark and not great for shooting, the central vestibule has plenty of natural light and don’t miss the spectacular staircase with an optical illusion of armour.
4. Victoria Quarter and Victoria Gate
Victoria Quarter is iconic to Leeds and has been lovingly restored to all its Victorian glory. The lighting is beautiful and the architecture is grand. Victoria Quarter is perfect for elegant and timeless shots, but for something more modern, head next door to the new Victoria Gate. They are easily two of the best shoot locations in Leeds.
5. Temple Newsam
Temple Newsam is located in East Leeds about 15 minutes drive from the city centre. Whilst its not the most central shoot location in Leeds, its worth the journey. Temple Newsam Estate includes the house, extensive grounds (landscaped by Capability Brown), children’s play area, Go Ape, courtyard cafe and farm. It’s a day out in itself. In terms of good shoot spots, check out the hidden ‘Walled Garden’ and also the old fountain on the left hand side of the house. If you're visiting in May, don't miss the spectacular Rhododendron walk.
6. Belgrave Music Hall Rooftop
In my opinion this is the best rooftop bar in Leeds and the best place to hang out during the summer months. Belgrave Music Hall dates back to the 1930’s and is now a very popular bar and music venue. You can expect some cool rooftop views and plenty of sunshine in the summer months. I’m not sure how inspiring it would feel in the depth of winter though.
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7. Leeds Grand Theatre
I recently went to see Grease at Leeds Grand Theatre and was pleasantly surprised by the whole building. Think rich, decadent furnishings reminiscent from the 1920’s and an impressive central stair case. The theatre itself is also spectacular and would be perfect for a vintage inspired shoot.
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8. Leeds Dock
Leeds Dock is a unique part of Leeds. Imagine traditional canal boats moored to the dock and surrounded by imposing modern flat blocks. The Leeds water taxi operates from here and on a sunny day it looks lovely. The Royal Armouries are located here, so it would be easy to combine both shoot locations together.
9. Roundhay Park
If you want to shoot in the great outdoors with nature as your backdrop, consider Roundhay Park. At 700 acres, its one of the largest city parks in Europe. There’s a huge central lake, children’s play areas, a bowling green and a quaint lakeside coffeeshop called the Boathouse. Let your creative license flow!
10. Kirkgate Market
Kirkgate Market is a great option if you’re looking to create a bit of English nostalgia with your photos. Kirkgate market is loved by locals and inside it feels like its perfectly frozen in time. It’s also the home of the original Marks and Spencers (the stall still stands today) which is a fun fact I like to tell everyone!
11. Trinity Kitchen
Foodies, head over to Trinity Kitchen for a delicious backdrop to your shoot. If you want to shoot in a darker environment lit by neon signs and bold colours, check out Trinity Kitchen. There are a variety of food vendors here, some of which are pop ups and others are more permanent fixtures. Either way, you can do your shoot then eat your way around the world.
12. Leeds Town Hall
I’m pretty sure every blogger in Leeds has shot at Leeds Town Hall at some point, so I can’t say its very unique. However, we’ve all shot there for one good reason - its beautiful! You’ll get outdoor light and the stairway is good enough to rival the New York City Library. It’s definitely one of the best shoot locations in Leeds.
13. Knights Way Bridge
The Knights Way Bridge is a stones throw from the city centre and goes over the river Aire, so its a great option if you want to incorporate some water or reflections into your Leeds city shoot. My favourite thing about this bridge is actually the backdrop. The riverside buildings are really picturesque.
If you’re looking for a backdrop of stylish interiors and a sleek bar, book a table or go for a drink at Issho. This fine dining Japanese restaurant is hidden away on the first floor of Victoria Gate shopping centre. There’s a lovely outdoor terrace and plenty of natural light inside too. The food here is also fantastic and it’s definitely worth trying if you’ve got the budget.
If you're in need of a talented, friendly and local photographer in Leeds, I would highly recommend Matt McKormick who I work with on a regular basis.
What do you think of my round up of the best shoot locations in Leeds? Are there any more good shoot locations you think I’ve missed out? If you enjoyed this post please leave a comment below. Jess x