Oakland oil rigs

Oakland Photography: Through the Lens of Local Creatives

From urban streetscapes to waterfront views, Oakland photography is a playground

If you think of the Bay Bridge when you think of photos of Oakland, maybe it’s time to expand your horizons. The Bay Area is famous for its bridges, obviously, and photos of the Bay Bridge and the Golden Gate Bridge are some the best Oakland photography.

But there is a lot more to photograph in the area. And once you’ve traveled across the Bay Bridge, why not look around Oakland and discover some of them?

You may just be among the first to document some of these visual gems hidden throughout the city.

Start in Downtown Oakland

Downtown Oakland and Uptown Oakland offer a number of photo-ready spots. With buildings like City Hall, the Flatiron, Tribune Tower and Fox Theater, it’s a diverse environment just waiting to be captured.

downtown oakland building
The sunsets against downtown Oakland apartment buildings. [Photo by Howie Mapson on Unsplash]

“Oakland has something that can [pique] any photographer’s interest – street art, historical architecture, unique people, and classic cars with an Oakland twist (just to name a few),” says local photographer Myles (@91kilometers).

He was quoted admiring the photogenic city on Visit Oakland’s “How to Photograph Oakland Like a Pro.”

He notes, “ … you have such massive contrasts of people, places, and things. You can go from The Hills where you have beautiful, sprawling homes, to West Oakland which is more gritty and dotted with graffiti, to Jack London where you have sailboats and shipping liners side by side. Each neighborhood displays its beauty in its own unique way.”

six photos of oakland waterviews
A snapshot of Oakland photographer and videographer Myles’ Instagram shows what he’s been up to. His images capture the Bay Area city from every angle.

Lake Merritt

Another spot most local photographers agree is a must-visit is Lake Merritt. More than 3 miles of shoreline make up the 155-acre tidal lagoon in the center of the city. It boasts the first official wildlife refuge in the U.S.

Because of this unique designation and geography, it offers beautiful cityscapes but is also an incredible spot for nature photography. Birders can revel in shots of pelicans, cormorants, and herons, to name just a few.

Waterfront or mountain-top views

Another favorite among local photographers is Joaquin Miller Park. The park features one of the few redwood forests growing in an urban area. Nearby, the previously mentioned Jack London Square is another photogenic spot. It sits on the Oakland/Alameda estuary that was once the heart of Oakland’s port.

Oakland waterfront
[Photo by Guillaume Merle on Unsplash]

On Visit Oakland’s blog, photographer Vincent James (@vincentjamesphotography) says “Lake Merritt and the waterfront and estuary area are particularly magical places to shoot.”

James also recommends Grizzly Peak and Skyline Boulevard, in the Oakland Hills area, which he says offer the advantage of being able to shoot east or west, depending on the better view. “Personally,” he says, “I love the mornings, especially looking east toward Mount Diablo.”

Redwood trees
Redwood trees in Oakland, California. [Photo by Casey Horner on Unsplash]

Discover the ‘undiscovered’

The consensus among local photographers is that the diversity of Oakland makes it a unique and wonderful location to capture dynamic images. Oakland photography offers views reaching both east, and the unique perspective of the iconic Bay Area offers something that can’t be achieved across the bay.

“My favorite thing about taking photos in Oakland is everything feels undiscovered,” says Andrew Wille (@andrewoptics). “Unlike San Francisco, which has been shot from every angle, shooting in Oakland gives you a sense of adventure and discovery.”

So the next time you’re in the Bay Area, don’t limit yourself to San Francisco and the bridges (although you shouldn’t miss them, either!) Take a hint from the locals. Explore Oakland and see what unique shots you can get when you photograph the area like a local.

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