I photographed Carolyn and Robert’s pre-wedding portrait session at The Rocks earlier this year. I thought that it would be an opportunity to highlight some of my engagement photography locations within The Rocks; our iconic and historic precinct in the heart of Sydney.
Photography on Observatory Hill
Head to Observatory Hill (located at Upper Fort Street, The Rocks) for some massive fig-trees, sandstone walls, winding paths, a cute gazebo and great views of the western side of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Observatory Hills is commonly packed with wedding couples and their photography studios on Saturdays, capturing a lovely westerly aspect with harbour glimpses and terraced house rooftops. It is also a location to capture warm light from the setting sun in the early evening. Observatory Hill is also a great meeting spot for couples to meet up at the start of a Sydney portrait photoshoot. I like to shoot here at the start, and also at the end of engagement sessions because it is a suitable location accommodating natural activities that I use to break the ice. I am completely aware that not everyone is comfortable in front of a camera. I understand that it takes a little time to get accustomed to being photographed. Don’t worry – we go for a walk and get you used to the experience.
Sydney Harbour Bridge Pedestrian Underpass
Located near Observatory Hill (at the intersection of Upper Fort Street and Watson Road, The Rocks), is a bluish-grey concrete opening that connects the eastern and western pedestrian underpass underneath the Cahill Expressway. On the western side, it’s a bicycle crossing (so be careful not to access the bike lane or risk security telling you off!). The location can seem a little messy at first, but it’s all about the light that comes in through the concrete arches on the south side. The cooler colours and side-light is great for pre-wedding portrait photoshoots The stairs are great for a rest with your partner and we can get some variety from some interesting angles.
Argyle Place Park Stairs and the Argyle Cut
Argyle Place Park Stairs and the Argyle Cut are nearby. They are best accessed from Watson Road. Head down the stairs for a few portrait photographs with some symmetric lines. Both the top and the bottom of the stairs are nice but expect to need to give way to passers-by because the stairs are a shortcut to access the pedestrian crossing mentioned above.
Walk a little down Argyle Street and you’ll be in the Argyle Cut. I say “in” the Argyle Cut because the cutting is the large underpass under the Cahill Expressway and Harbour Bridge. The cut is simply a massive sandstone wall with cars parked on both sides, but it can be shot nicely between stationary vehicles. There are subtle variations in sandstone colour at either end of the cutting, and you attract nice soft light entering the underpass. The location works well for engagement photos at The Rocks.
Trinity Avenue and Lower Fort Street
Between Argyle Place Park and the Argyle Cut, on the opposite side of the road, you’ll find a small lane that leads to Trinity Avenue. It looks a little small and messy at first but head on down the lane and it opens up to a wider dead-end road. There are some cool doorways and also a playground that produces some nice shots with the afternoon light. The park works for almost every portrait session at The Rocks (including families, bridal couples, and engagement sessions/pre-wedding photoshoots) because everyone loves a swing-set and reminiscing of their younger years.
Continue down Lower Fort Street and you’ll pass a manicured traffic divider and also the corner of Downshire Place. This corner had a “London look” to it, with renovated terraces, sandstone road gutters and black iron fencing. It’s a good location for another rest with your partner. I usually stop here with my clients before continuing.
One of the last spots of the portrait photography session is usually along Ferry Lane. Take a left turn off Lower Fort Street (either down Downshire Place or opposite the Harbour View Hotel) and you’ll end up along a tiny footpath that overlooks the Walsh Bay area and old piers. It’s not immediately a great backdrop and varies in quality with lighting conditions, but it has some interesting features along the path that create some unique perspectives. Head to the southern end for some textured backdrops such as rustic old walls and peeling painted surfaces.
That’s the end of this engagement photography tour of The Rocks, Sydney. Enjoy viewing some images from Carolyn and Robert’s pre-wedding photoshoot below. For an engagement or pre-wedding photography session in Sydney please reach out using the details on the contact page linked here.
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