by Richard Piper
As someone who is regularly in and around this famous Thames-side area giving small group and bespoke photographic tuition, I can honestly say that I've never seen it so vibrant and exciting. With so much going on it's quite extraordinary to witness the mass of people yielding cameras of every kind, as they try and capture the atmosphere and excitement.
The famous 'wobbly' Millennium Bridge is a particularly great place to watch the photo-taking frenzy, with selfie sticks bobbing above the people like long necked geese gathering their flock. Close by is Tate Modern art gallery, built inside the brick fortress-like former Bankside Power Station. It's interesting that the Tate, like many other galleries, has recently changed its policy on photography and now actually encourages visitors to photograph the exhibits in the hope that postings on social media will give the gallery increased exposure.
If you're planning a trip to the area and are interested in a high-level view point, it's worth checking out the Tate's new Switch House wing. It has a viewing terrace on the
top floor, which gives a fantastic 360 degree view that takes in the River Thames, St Paul’s Cathedral, and as far away as Canary Wharf and Wembley Stadium. This roofed open-sided terrace has no windows, but a chest high safety railing, which is a great bonus for photography, as window reflection is a typical problem with viewing galleries, like the one at the top of the Shard.
Ironically, the very high viewing galleries found in London's taller buildings are generally too high for interesting photography. By comparison, the Switch House is high enough to give you great views, but low enough to maintain the feeling of the energy and vibrancy below. Oh, and incidentally, like many of the area's other riverside attractions, the viewing terrace is free of charge.
So, if you fancy a trip to London and Europe's largest centre for arts, then now is a fabulous time to do it...
And don't forget your camera!