Cape Town is one of the best cities in the world when it comes to photography, I can say that Cape Town and Photography changed my life. My name is Craig Howes, I used to be an investment banker, and now I'm a full-time Travel Photographer and filmmaker based out of Cape Town. I have spent the last 10 or so years photographing and filming almost every aspect of Cape Town. Give me a follow on Instagram: @CraigHowes
Cape Town in 2 Minutes Video
Cape Town Photographers Bucket list
Lion's head is my all-time favourite spot in Cape Town. For me should be at the top of everyone's Cape Town bucket list! The hike takes about 45-60 minutes from the bottom depending on fitness.
What makes Lions' Head so special?
It is that it is a mountain peak in the heart of Cape Town.
A complete 360-degree view!
You will have views of:
The Cape Town City Bowl (CBD)
Cape Town Harbour and Waterfront
The 12 Apostles Mountains
Camps Bay Strip
You can see all of Cape Town except for the Southern Suburbs that are behind Table Mountain.
There is one picture I take in Cape Town, and whenever I post it outperforms almost every other image I've ever taken, anywhere in the world. This picture is taken from Maidens Cove. When you stand there or even just look at the picture it is easy to understand.
Maidens Cove is Just to the right of Camps Bay beach if you are looking at the ocean. Essentially Maidens cove is a parking lot with a big sloping grass bank next to Camps Bay. The raised elevation allows you to Capture the 12 Apostles, Camps Bay and the Atlantic Ocean in all its glory.
Clifton beach is the best sun tanning / chilling beach in Cape Town. The beautiful white sands contrasted with turquoise blue water makes it an incredible place for fashion, or lifestyle photography.
You can also get an amazing top-down shot with a drone, or from the road high above the cliffs above.
I love taking pictures in Bo-Kaap. Bo-Kaap is a vibrant gem of people and culture in the heart of downtown Cape Town. Bo-Kaap was formerly known as the Malay Quarter, the Bo-Kaap’s origins date back to the 1760s when numerous “huurhuisjes” (rental houses) were built and leased to slaves. These people were known as Cape Malay and were brought from Malaysia, Indonesia, and the rest of Africa to work in the Cape.
What makes Bo-Kaap great for photography are the cobblestone streets, Cape Dutch and Georgian architecture that is spectacularly painted in a wide variety of colours. There are a lot of interesting people, graffiti, Mosques, and food. Bo-Kaap is one of the richest cultural areas in Cape Town.
All this said, keep in mind many of the families in the Bo-Kaap have been living there for generations. Today the Bo-Kaap community is a significant part of our cultural heritage. So, when photographing Bo-Kaap you HAVE TO RESPECT THE CULTURE AND PEOPLE.
People are very friendly and accommodating, but keep in mind this is a predominately Muslim area, which means be respectful in the ways you dress, and interact with people and Mosques. Also remember that while there are tourist attractions there, this area is mainly homes to locals that live there. Be respectful of their property.
On-Top of Table Mountain
You will get amazing images from on top of Table Mountain. The quickest and easiest way to get the best images is to take the Cable Car. The Cable Car takes you right to the peak and most of the best images you will take on top of Table Mountain will be less than a 5-minute walk once you are on the top.
Alternatively, the easiest hike to the best images is Platteklip Gorge which is about a 1–2-hour hike. You can Catch the Cable Car down afterwards if you like.
Kasteelspoort (Also on Top-of Table Mountain)
Kasteelspoort is also on Top of Table Mountain, interestingly enough it used to be where the old cable car went. Kasteelspoort is one of the peaks of the 12 Apostles, which is the side of Table Mountain, which means you start your hike on Camps bay side. The hike is around 1-2 hours.
What makes Kasteelspoort epic is the "diving board", which is a rock that is shaped like a diving board. You get an epic picture where it looks like you are hanging off a mountain over the ocean in the background. From Kasteelspoort you can do another 1-2 hour hike to the cable car and get the classic Top-of-Table Mountain pictures.
I love doing Khayelitsha tours, this is a travel and street photographer's dream. I wrote a whole article about it (Here) I don't recommend just going to Khayelitsha without a local guide, for safety reasons, also they will take you to the best locations and introduce you to the locals.
Chapmans Peak Drive (And Look Out Points)
The most beautiful road in the world, I think so.
Chapmans Peak feels a lot like Big Sur in California. The viewpoint at the top is spectacular, both looking down Chapmans Peak and the view of Hout Bay. You can also go further down the road and stop off at a variety of viewpoints.
Atlantis Dunes is such a unique place to visit.
The white sand dunes of Atlantis are incredible to photograph. The sheer height and scale of the dunes give you a wide variety of shots and can be utilised by a broad spectrum of photography styles.
Whether you are looking for an engagement shoot, lifestyle, fashion, extreme sport or even landscape shoot. Atlantis has some great features.
You get a sense that you are marooned in a vast white desert. The shadows from the 50-meter-high sand dunes combined with the textures of the sand make for truly unique compositions. Read our Atlantis Dunes Guide Here!
Boulders Beach (Home of the African Penguins)
It goes without saying when in Cape Town, get a picture of a penguin! Boulders Beach has a couple of sections to it. 2 Main Paying sections and then a beach on either side, where you can often see penguins too!
The main Penguin viewing section will give you the classic beach filled with penguins and the turquoise blue water in the back. It's worth checking it out and being so close to so many Penguins. Note you can't get on this beach as it is a penguin breading area and sanctuary.
The second paying beach is breathtakingly beautiful. It looks like a tropical island like Seychelles or one of the Greek isles. This beach is filled with people and families, it's a great place to spend the day. There are much fewer penguins on this beach, but you do get a couple that swims out and hang out by the boulders. This is a great place to get close shots, you can get within a meter of the penguins. Again, be respectful, they are our treasured wildlife.
My first love! I used to live at Lagoon Beach Hotel, and every single day for about 4 years I would take sunset and sunrise images at lagoon beach. To this day some of the best images I have taken in Cape Town have been at Lagoon Beach.
You should always get a nice picture of Table Mountain from Lagoon beach, except on those days when clouds cover Table Mountain. However, there are days you will get mind-blowing images. On its day, Lagoon Beach is the best place in Cape Town to take pictures.
ThunderStorm Timelapse, in Cape Town by Craig Howes
Sunset / Sunrise
Blouberg Beach (Rock Pools)
Blouberg beach is another great place to get the silhouette classic Table Mountain Shot. Blouberg means (Blue Mountain- referring to Table Mountain looking blue from that side)
The Whole stretch of Beach from Sunset Beach to Melkbos has great photo opportunities, however, If I had to choose a favourite spot it would be on the rocks near Ons Huisie. The rocks and pools make for very interesting compositions and reflections
Camps Bay Tidal Pool
Much like Maiden's Cove, you will get beautiful shots of the Ocean and the 12 Apostles Mountains. However, on a still day with no wind, you will get near-perfect reflections in the tidal pool that I love!
Cape Point is an Iconic Cape Town View, it's on the other side of Cape Town. Cape Point is a National Park and feels wild, like Cape Town without people.
There are plenty of photo opportunities everywhere, however, my favourite viewpoint is at the lighthouse on top. You can either walk up about 20 minutes to get there or take the Bus type thing, which is cool too. Try to find a day without wind.
Also, Cape Point national park has some wildlife Ostriches, Baboons, and Eland, which are cool to capture if you are into wildlife.
The lazy person's Lion's head! Signal hill has almost the same views as Lion's head, just a lot lower than Lion's head, but still a lot higher than the city. What I love about Signal hill is that is very accessible with a variety of backdrops. City, Ocean, Lion's Head and Table Mountain.
The Signal Hill Road is also nice to photograph, especially if you want to photograph runners, cyclists, skateboarders, cars, and motorbikes.
Signal Hill has a great view of Lion's Head and Cape Town stadium.
Llandudno is a beautiful beach between Camps Bay and Hout Bay. The white sand and turquoise water with large boulders make it a photographer's dream.
There is a great wave with talented surfers, so if you're into Surf Photography, this spot is prime. The Boulders make it a great place for Fashion and Lifestyle shoots, with interesting light. This beach is also very private and secluded if that is something you require.
Muizenberg is such a beautiful little town, I always say, "Muizenberg feels like Cape Town 20 years ago" Not that I was there 20 years ago, but it has all the beauty of Cape Town but is mainly a surf town, most of the building and houses are the original ones. The colourful beach houses have become an iconic Cape Town image.
It's the best place to learn to surf in Cape Town too!
Robben Island (Unique Penguin Shot with Table Mountain)
Robben Island is a great insight into South Africa's history. We highly recommend the trip there for a multitude of reasons, however in terms of photography, you can get a unique angle of Table Mountain with African Penguins in the foreground.
Kogel Bay ('Cool Bay')
About an hour's drive from Cape Town, you'll find Kogel Bay. These beautiful Mountains light up at sunset as they form a spectacular backdrop of the Indian Ocean.
Cape Town in 2 Minutes Video
Read more about the locations in this video here!
Cape Town Video Production Company Youtube: SoCoMunity
Drone photography has so many grey areas in South Africa and the world for that matter.
If you are doing commercial photography or filming, you need a Drone License. In terms of private use, you are not allowed to fly within x number of meters from people, cars and buildings, and not within x km from airports, heliports and air force bases.
That all said check the rules and be responsible. It is possible to fly a drone in Cape Town. However, the HARD-NO-NOs are flying in national parks. That includes Table Mountain national park- they are very strict about this. Don't fly near airports or harbours. Don't Fly over people. BE RESPONSIBLE AND USE COMMON SENSE!
IS PHOTOGRAPHY Safe in Cape Town?
Generally, Cape Town is very safe for photographers, especially in touristy spots. That said be responsible, don't leave gear unattended, or in places that it can be easily taken off (Like tables and front seats of the car)
At night I wouldn't walk around with Camera gear.
Be Careful on LONG STREET! There is a lot of petty crime there, especially at night.
Be careful when you walk deep into Bo-Kaap, or Woodstock.
I would avoid informal settlements or Townships unless accompanied by a guide. While 99.9% of people are amazing there are elements of gangsterism.
Be careful Hiking Alone in the Dark in Cape Town, not only is there a risk of falling off, but there have been some incidents on the Less common Trails.
I've always been a massive fan of ORMS Photographic shop. They supported me when I first started photography. The staff members are all super knowledgeable and friendly. They have one of the biggest ranges. As a photographer, you feel at home and inspired when visiting their shop.
Printing Film in Cape Town
Printing Photo-books and prints
Cape Town Photographic Tours and shoots
Craig Howes and SoCoMunity offer the following services and photo tours
Location Scouting Expert
Outsourcing entire creative production