If you’re into photography or visual arts in general, add this selection of the best photography galleries in London to your bucket list.
I spend long hours at exhibitions every time I’m in London.
The art scene in London is vibrant and diverse and the variety is huge, it can keep you fascinated and entertained for months.
Photography is a relatively young art, so sometimes it is still less appreciated compared to the more traditional forms of art, like painting and sculpture.
But this attitude is changing, because photography is such a tremendously creative art form that keeps reinventing itself.
There are photography exhibitions at different art spaces in London from time to time, such as Tate Modern, Barbican Art Gallery, Hayward Gallery and quite a few more.
This guide focuses on those galleries that specialise only in photography.
They present established and up-and-coming artists, vintage photos and contemporary work and everything in between.
This guide to photography galleries in London covers the whole range of styles and artists.
If you’re looking for photography tours in London, skip to the end for a selection of tours.
The Photographers’ Gallery
Right in the centre of London, off Oxford Street and close to Soho, there’s a photography lover’s playground that spans no less than five floors.
The Photographers’ Gallery was the first and the largest public gallery in the UK dedicated exclusively to photography.
It hosts exhibitions by UK and international photographers.
Styles vary and include the whole range from historical to contemporary photography, plus emerging artists.
You can easily spend an afternoon there, there’s so much to see. Also don’t miss the bookshop and the cafe downstairs.
The gallery runs events like talks, workshops and tours on a regular basis, so check the website to see what’s on.
Address: 16-18 Ramillies Street, London W1F 7LW
The Victoria & Albert Photography Centre
The Victoria & Albert Museum is one of my favourite museums in London. Their collection is massive and keeps growing and changing.
There’s so much to see that I tend to get lost in there every time I go…
So it was only on my 57th visit to the museum that I discovered its photography gallery 😉
The V&A has 800,000 photographs in its collection, so a couple of rooms dedicated to selections from that huge collection were opened in in 2018.
A display of vintage cameras welcomes you before you enter.
The historic gallery documents the history of photography since its invention in the 1830s and up until the 20th century.
The next gallery features modern and contemporary photographers. The collection includes some big names like Man Ray, Bill Brandt and Linda McCartney.
While the contemporary exhibition may be more relatable, the historical photos are quite fascinating.
They will really make you appreciate how far we’ve come when you see some of the earliest examples of photographic techniques.
You can also see some of the items on the V&A’s virtual museum exhibits.
Address: Cromwell Rd, Knightsbridge, London SW7 2RL
The spacious London location of this international gallery is colourful and welcoming.
Spanning two floors in Covent Garden, it is a great place to visit if you want to keep up with some of the most popular trends in contemporary art.
The gallery’s motto is “the liberation of art”, making art accessible to art enthusiasts and art collectors.
It features signed and numbered exclusive original prints by 250 artists, alongside historical photography and some contemporary sculptures.
When you visit, go downstairs to see more artworks and to check out WhiteWall, where you can also print your own photos.
I also enjoyed browsing the Lumas website, it has plenty of information on each of the artists featured.
Michael Hoppen Gallery
This London photography gallery specialises in a wide range of styles, from fine art photography to photojournalism, promoting young and emerging photographers, as well as more established ones.
The gallery also has a unique collection of post war Japanese photography, the largest outside of Asia.
Michael Hoppen Contemporary is located on a small street in Chelsea in west London.
Seeing some of the artworks from across the street through the large windows was a pleasant surprise.
As you walk in, you’ll find yourself in the spacious ground floor exhibition space of the gallery.
On the second floor, the exhibition room has a very different, more intimate feel.
Browse some of the artists’ books while you’re there, they’re fascinating.
Address: 3 Jubilee Place, London SW3 3TD
“Photography is not a sport. It has no rules. Everything must be dared and tried!”Bill Brandt
Hamiltons Gallery London
Behind a dark door in Mayfair in central London, there’s an impressively spacious photography gallery that represents some of the masters of photography.
There’s a new exhibition every 2-3 months showcasing 20th century and contemporary photographers.
Some of the major artists represented include Richard Avedon, Erwin Olaf, Irving Penn and Hiro.
There’s a wealth of information on the gallery’s website about each of the artists represented, with famous works and biographies.
Address: Hamiltons Gallery, 13 Carlos Place, London W1K 2EU
Leica Photography Gallery in London
While you’re in the area, head over to Duke Street, a short walk from Hamiltons Gallery.
Adjacent to the Leica camera shop, you’ll find the Leica Photography Gallery that features, as you might expect, works by Leica photographers 😉
Some of the greatest photographers in the world use these cameras and lenses, so there’s plenty to exhibit and there’s a fresh exhibition every 6-8 weeks.
It is a relatively new photography gallery in London, opened in February 2019 and the first ever Leica Gallery in the UK.
The focus is on contemporary artists and the curators stay up to date with trends in the art market.
Alongside the exhibitions, there are talks and workshops at the Leica Akademie training centre in the same space.
Address: 64-66 Duke Street, Mayfair, W1K 6JD London
One of the best photography galleries in London, that specialises in contemporary and 20th century photography, as well as photojournalism and fashion photography.
Located in Marylebone in central London, it runs about six exhibitions per year.
Artists showcased include some great portrait photographers like Robert Freeman and David Bailey; Some famous masters like Robert Capa and Henri Cartier-Bresson; and contemporary artists making surprising and innovative art, like Eleanor Macnair and Richard Caldicott.
Address: 49 Dorset Street, Marylebone, London W1U 7NF
The Most Beautiful London Photography Books
Photography Tours in London
After seeing all of these great photography galleries, you’ll be inspired to pick up your DSLR or phone and start taking pictures of London 😉
There are plenty of photography tours and workshops in London. Here’s a selections of them:
- London: Photography Walking Tour
- London: Full-Day Photography Expedition
- Southbank Photography Tour At Night
- London Instagram Tour
- Golden Hour Photography Tour
- 8-Hour Sightseeing Tour with Photography Tips
- Travel Photography in Shoreditch and East London