Seoul: A Photographer’s Guide

So you have arrived in Seoul on a business trip or perhaps you live there permanently. Or maybe you are a holiday maker in this vibrant and crazy metropolis. You’d love to take a long exposure of the city or some cool street photography, but you just don’t know where to go. Or maybe you would just love to see the best views in Seoul. Never fear, after living in Seoul for two years, I’m going to spill the lens-shaped beans. Don’t forget to bring your tripod! All photos taken by me. -Belle Nachmann

1. Gwanghwamun: Gyeongbokgung Palace Gate, Seoul

Without a doubt one of the most photogenic locations in Seoul. Very easy to get to location in the centre of the city. The coloured lines are buses driving past. Taken at street level.


2. Gwanghwamun Plaza (in the Summer), Seoul

In the summer the fountains run alongside this beautiful monument and the water gathers on the tiles to create dazzling reflections.


3. Nandemun Gate, Seoul

Although you might have to sneak past the Ajoshi security guard to get to the roof, this location is well worth it, even if you have to bribe him with a can of orange juice. Be sure to composite the signs.

Nandemun Tiff

4. Paldalmun Gate, Suwon

Okay, okay, so it’s not in Seoul, but the 2 hour train journey to get here gives back in bucket-loads. The roof is easily accessible and you can even make a day trip from the whole journey. You could walk around the old palace wall during the day, waiting for magic hour to arrive.


5. Seongsu Bridge, Seoul

If taken on a smooth night, without wind, you could get a much nicer reflection than what I have achieved here. This is a magnificent bridge and the walk alongside the Han River is enjoyable too. Take a good jacket, hat and gloves in Winter.


6. Downtown Gangnam, Seoul

If you love a bit of ‘Gangnam Style’ then you cant go past this rooftop location (above the cinema at Gangnam’s main intersection) in downtown Gangnam. It’s an open space with tables and chairs. Take a beer and relax while the sun goes down.


7. Inwangsan Mountain, Seoul

This is undoubtedly the best view in Seoul. If you would like to see this huge mega-city in all its glory, and its 23 million inhabitants, go no further than Inwangsan for this incredible panorama. This shot was taken in the middle of Winter, and is one of the more clear views you will see. You’ve got to work with the weather on this one. It’s also just a fantastic place for a short 45 minute hike.


8. Chungdahm Bridge, Ttukseom Resort, Seoul 

This one is not easy, and the Ajoshi security guard hates photographers. He expects people there on the weekends. You have to be very discreet about entering the apartments (you shoot out of a window from one of the apartment blocks) and make sure you hide your tripod. This is a beautiful bridge, and if you are lucky, you will get a sky of nice pinks as it is in the direction of the sunset.


9. N Seoul Tower, Namsan Mountain, Seoul

Not only can you take in breathtaking views of the entire city up the tower itself, you can also shoot the tower, the surrounding life, and these picturesque and quirky ‘love locks’ on the fence of the viewing platform. Get a bit of exercise and hike up. It doesn’t take long and is well worth it.


10. Deoksogung Palace, City Hall, Seoul

This gorgeous palace can be shot from many angles. With special permission you can get access to a rooftop of a nearby skyscraper. If this is not possible (icy in Winter, they wont allow it) shooting from ground level in blue-hour is lovely. You may have to composite people out of your shot. I didn’t in this case. I forgot.


11. Gwangjang Market, Jongno, Seoul

This incredible food market will tantalize not only your taste buds but also your eyes. There are pancakes, soups, bibimbap bowls and pig trotters being served up continuously here. Take some time just wandering around trying food, and working out some compositions in your head. You don’t want to rush this place, there’s so much to see and capture.


12. Dongdaemun Gate, Dongdaemun, Seoul

Last, but certainly not least, this is Dongdaemun Gate. There is an even better view of this fantastic gate from behind, but unfortunately I accidentally lost the raws from the night I was shooting there. Bummer. The street view is still wonderful, and it’s a great intersection to practice long exposure, as there is plenty of traffic. When you’re done, drop into Doota Shopping Mall for some Korean fashion.


Any questions, please comment below.


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