I am a very proud adopted Oxonian. I’ve lived in the city since 2008 and have been photographing weddings in Oxford for the last 13 years, so I know the place like the back of my hand.
Many of my couples hire me because of this vast local knowledge. I often become their unofficial ‘tour guide’ for the day and knowing the city as well as I do means I am aware of all the shortcuts and hidden spots. Whether I’m shooting portraits, wedding photographs or a pre-wedding photoshoot I work with couples to find the perfect locations for them.
Now, for the first time I’ve decided to share my secrets! This blog details all my favourite spots around Oxford. What’s more, many of the locations in this post are very close to one another. If you have limited time for portraits on your wedding day this means that we can still get to a number of places. The first three spots I talk about – The Bodleian Library, the Bridge of Sighs and Radcliffe Camera are all in the same location so we can get photographs at all three in about 15 minutes!
- This is a great backdrop for amazing portraits. There are several locations, all within the grounds, which I love to shoot at. One of these locations in particular has the best light.
- The entrance to the Library has a gorgeous wooden door, which is a favourite of mine for pictures.
- In December there is a Christmas tree in the quad, perfect for some winter romance!
- Top tip – call in advance if you want to go inside the Bod and take photos in the Divinity School (it has the most amazing ceiling). You need permission for this. Unfortunately a lot of the interior is off limits, even to couples getting married there.
- Two very well known Oxford locations, so they’re a must visit for a lot of couples.
- It can get crowded in front of the bridge, tourists often gather there to take photographs. I love posing couples on the steps opposite, making sure that the Bridge is still in view.
- The Radcliffe Camera is an iconic Oxford landmark. The beautiful, circular building is a perfect backdrop but don’t get too close as it can overwhelm the couple within the photo.
The Side Streets
The side streets around the Bodleian, Radcliffe and Bridge of Sighs are also brilliant spots for photographs. Some of my go to’s are Hollywell Street which has stunning, pastel coloured buildings, Broad Street, Turl Street (with views of Lincoln College) and Queens Lane with its high stone walls.
In fact, lots of the backstreets of Oxford are beautiful and have a real urban vibe. Some other favourites are Gloucester Street and the area around the High Street. Checkout this blog post for more photos of the oxford back streets.
And some more of my favourites…
If you’ve still got time, or you want a bit of greenery in your photographs, then it’s always worth exploring these locations.
If you’re holding your ceremony at the Register Office then there’s a beautiful spot on the canal, underneath a weeping willow. If there’s time I always try to take the couple there for portraits, or even walk over with the whole family for some group photographs. Check out this blog post at the Oxford Registry Office.
The Parks are about a ten minute walk from the city centre. The 70 acres are filled with gorgeous flowers in the spring and summer. It’s a great spot if you want some greenery and colour in your photographs.
One of the most divine spaces in spring. Home to over 5000 types of plants from all over the world I could wander around here for hours on end. The walled garden is one of the places I head to if I need a bit of calm or headspace! There is an entrance fee and you do need permission to photograph couples here but it’s well worth it.
This is a huge, tranquil riverside spot. There’s a garden space just as you enter which is also especially beautiful in the springtime. The river is a bit of a walk away but the view from there is lovely.
Rent a punt!
If you’re having a pre-wedding or couples portraits shoot and you want to have a bit of fun, then I encourage my couples to hire a punt. I highly recommend it!
You can rent one at Magdalen Bridge Boathouse and then head towards Christchurch Meadow. I always meet my couples at this point. The Cherwell River runs through the meadow and it’s easy to get fab photographs of you both enjoying the punt. Alternatively, you can punt from the Cherwell Boathouse. For more punting inspiration, check out this blog post.
For a splash of colour make sure you visit the Ashmolean Museum door. It’s huge and blue so it looks great in pictures! Don’t visit during the day though, as they only close the doors once the museum shuts at 5pm.
If you’re looking for even more colour in your photos then you can’t beat the Rainbow pedestrian crosswalk, just opposite Oxford’s main library. I often get LGTBQ+ couples asking me to take them there. It’s a fab photo opportunity.
I’ll end with a quick note about the colleges. Most of Oxford’s colleges won’t let you inside unless you have prior permission and an affiliation with the college. If you are able to get inside then many of the colleges have beautiful grounds which are lovely to explore and take photos in.
Having said that though, I have had couples – in wedding attire – ask porters if they can nip in for a photo or two. The answer is often yes, after all, who can say no to a couple who have just got married!