Sprawling harbor views to your left. Centuries-old brick buildings straight ahead. Neatly manicured gardens dotting your periphery. With photo ops at every turn, you’d better have your camera ready when you wander through Victoria! Whether you’re into nature, astounding architecture or that perfectly styled brunch spread, BC’s capital city always finds a way to spark your creativity.

So charge up your camera battery and let your lens be your guide as you meander around this picturesque city! Here are a few ideas from Seattle-based photographer and travel maven Victoria Wright to help get the inspiration flowing!

Sweat the Small Stuff

The spiny leaves of a monkey puzzle tree set against a cool gray autumn sky at The Butchart Gardens. Photo: Victoria Wright

With more than 55 acres of utter lushness to explore at The Butchart Gardens, it is hard to know what to shoot first. Wright’s approach? Take the time to soak in the details of your surroundings.

If something grabs your attention, try to figure out why. Does the bark have a distinctive texture? Is sunlight hitting the water in an unusual or interesting way? These make for more unique photos than another sweeping panorama of the Sunken Garden.

Wright adds, Visiting the gardens is spectacular any time of the year. We bundled up, grabbed tea from the café and strolled along the vibrant autumn colors. There’s a lot to be said for spending time outside and simply slowing down.”

Peer Into the Past

Quirky architectural details abound on Old Town Victoria’s lower Johnson Street. Photo: Tourism Victoria

From the elegant brick buildings of Yates Street to the stately silhouette of the city’s original Customs Building, there’s no shortage of inspiration in the little pocket neighborhood known as Old Town.

Spend some time exploring the nearly block-long expanse of the Parliament Buildings to uncover details in the intricate architecture that you would’ve missed from the street. (Have you spotted the ram fighting the buck?) Or stage a Wes Anderson-inspired shoot outside the candy-colored storefronts on Lower Johnson. Your creativity and attention to detail will be rewarded in this unique portion of the city.

Find Some Great Lighting

Stake out a spot along the Ogden Point Breakwater to take in sweeping ocean views with the rugged Olympic Mountains on the horizon. Photo: Scott Meis

Stretching out into the sparkling sea, the Ogden Point Breakwater provides boundless opportunities for panoramic shots of the Olympic Peninsula. Try framing up a shot aligning the iconic walkway in the center of the shot to highlight its geometric symmetry – especially gorgeous if you catch it with a sunset backdrop. Or find a vantage point along the coast and make the colorful First Nations’ Unity Wall Mural your subject! Ultimately there’s no wrong way to shoot this local landmark.

Walk the Walk

Impeccably kept ships line the city’s tranquil Inner Harbour, ready for their close up. Photo: Victoria Wright

One of Victoria’s defining features is its waterfront location. Fortunately, there are plenty of footpaths that allow you to get up close and personal with the city’s waterways.

Head over the Johnson Street Bridge (and grab a photo of the unobstructed Inner Harbour view along the way) to the West Bay walkway. Lined with deciduous trees that colorfully announce each season, a stroll along this pathway is sure to inspire an impromptu landscape photoshoot.

Wright suggests, “Try some new perspectives; notice the details of the older boats, the dancing reflections in the water, the balance between old world and new. There’s something for everyone.”

Frame Up Some Foliage

From multi-hued leaves to wispy moss, there’s no shortage of unique natural beauty at Beacon Hill Park. Photo: Victoria Wright

Just outside of the downtown core, Beacon Hill Park offers 200 acres of respite from the bustling foot traffic of the city. Packed with plants of all shapes and textures, kaleidoscopic flower beds and roaming wildlife (including wild peacocks!), this urban greenspace is a nature photographer’s dream.

Seek out a spot along Goodacre Lake to snap a photo of the park’s rustic stone bridge or follow the footpaths to meet the sea at Finlayson Point for an epic sunset shot. (Insider tip: Take Douglas Street toward the waterfront to catch a glimpse of Mile 0 of the Trans Canada Highway.)

Feed Your Inner Foodie

It’s difficult to resist snapping a shot of every bite at the ultra-photogenic Nourish Kitchen & Cafe. Photo: Victoria Wright

Weave through the charming homes of James Bay neighborhood and up the front steps of the oh-so-chic Nourish Kitchen & Cafe. From the warm wood accents to the free-standing brick fireplace (not to mention the perfectly plated meals), it’s almost impossible not to go snap-happy in this airy eatery.

“Their seasonal menu is loaded with the most delicious, healthy options— full of inspiring flavors and complemented by a gorgeous presentation. Its an absolute delight for all of your senses, and I haven’t been able to stop raving about it!” Wright gushes.

With a full memory card and tired feet, you’ll leave Victoria feeling inspired and creatively fulfilled. As the city changes so dramatically throughout the year – a dusting of snow in the winter, sprawling multi-hued flowerbeds in the spring, and verdant tree-lined streets in the summer – a return visit is a necessity to reinvigorate your imagination!


Featured photo: Scott Meis