Iconic Leeds: a photographer’s dream

As a city, Leeds has often lived in the shadow of other UK locations. Brighton is famous for its cheeky seaside cheer, Manchester is the football capital, London is the economic and cultural hub, while Liverpool is the centre for musical greats.

Yet Leeds has a trick up its sleeve that many people don’t realise. The city is full to bursting with a broad range of architectural gems, from former industrial monstrosities to modern, sleek and edgy buildings.

This range of architectural creations, complemented by a range of beautiful parklands, is a photographer’s dream. Here is a look at some of the best buildings across Leeds, and the history they boast that makes them so interesting, both behind and in front of the lens.

Architectural style

Like many of the city’s northern industrial companions, much of Leeds’s prominent architecture was produced in the Victorian era. However, Leeds also boasts buildings from as early as the Middle Ages, with a number of monasteries located in the city, not to mention extensive 20th Century industrial architecture.

Most of the buildings in Leeds sprung up during the Industrial Revolution, but it continues to grow all the time. There’s also plenty of award-winning architecture to be seen in Leeds, including the Corn Exchange and the Henry Moore Institute.

Following extensive suburban sprawl, the city of Leeds has given way to an extended suburban network. This area showcases a range of domestic architecture, with common features including terrace houses and bungalows, which commonly feature double-glazed windows, such as those from Safestyle, to keep properties warm from the chilly northern conditions.


There are plenty of buildings in Leeds that would be perfect to capture on a photography day trip. Some of these include:

The Church of St John the Baptist: Located at Adel, the Church of St John the Baptist is one of the earliest remaining buildings in Leeds.

Built between 1150 and 1170, it’s one of the most complete Norman churches in the area. The beautiful combination of rustic stone and historical grandeur make this a perfect photography subject.

Kirkstall Abbey: The abbey has a Cistercian foundation and was begun on the banks of the River Aire in 1152. The abbey was ruined during the Dissolution of the Monasteries under King Henry the VIII, and today all that remains is a range of highly preserved ruins. The grand and melancholic remains of the Norman church offer a truly unique Gothic photography subject.

Leeds Town Hall: Opened in 1858 by Queen Victoria, Leeds Town Hall is the quintessential centre of the British city. This classic example of Victorian architecture features bold geometrics and grand columns that are perfect for capturing shade and interesting angles.

The Corn Exchange: Before this building was transformed into a shopping centre in 1985, it lay derelict for many years. Why not try to capture this unique combination of abandoned space and current consumer culture?

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