How do you take a good photo of Big Ben?

By Mario Cacciottolo
BBC News

Image source, Getty Images

Big Ben is falling silent until 2021 - but that won't stop it being photographed. So where's the best spot to snap this iconic, if unhelpfully lofty, clock tower?

The Elizabeth Tower is said to be the most photographed building in the UK - but the old thing is notoriously difficult to capture.

Being so much taller than we are, it can prove awkward to fit it into the confines of your camera screen from street level.

For those who might not know the area, here are some quick tips on how to take a pleasing picture of this quintessentially British building.

Get there soon

The restoration work to the clock and tower means scaffolding is slowly swallowing it all up. So if you want a pretty picture to grace your Instagram feed with, pay a visit before metal overcomes stone.

The scaffolding isn't too high yet, so there are currently a few ways to hide it. Here's a shot from Parliament Square, in which you can see the scaffolding creeping up.

But focusing on an image in the foreground can help avoid this unsightly structure.

Image source, Getty Images

Watch out for traffic

The sight of a big red bus is great when you're waiting for one in the rain, but they won't half ruin your photograph. Wait for gaps in the traffic, and also zoom in a little to get away from the road.

Better still, if the sky is cloudy, zooming in closely can create a nice effect.

Avoid the furniture

The streets and pavements around the clock are littered with poles and lampposts and traffic lights.

It's easy to forget about them when your eye is drawn to the big pointy thing - but don't let this street furniture photo bomb your picture.

Shift your position to avoid it, or even make it a feature.

Image source, Getty Images

Pick your spot

But what if you want to be in the photo yourself? It can be hard to avoid the crowds gathering in Parliament Square, especially when you're all after the same thing.

Nick Ferrey, 57 and from Norwich, and his twin brother Chris, from Reading, were in Parliament Square to look at the Winston Churchill statue.

They agreed to turn around for a photograph to demonstrate how tricky it can be to pose with Big Ben.

In the first image, the crowds are encroaching on their background, and there's an unsightly traffic light on the left.

But switching to a profile shot means a tighter crop, and focuses the attention on the subjects - all three of them.

Those taking pictures of the structure from Parliament Square are often forced into a bit of contortionism, due to the severity of the angles.

The lady below seemed to find a decent spot for a selfie. But is she going to get the whole tower in from there? And shooting upwards is sometimes not the most flattering of angles.

Seek alternative viewpoints

So with its close proximity, throbbing crowds and rumbustious traffic, perhaps Parliament Square just isn't the best place for a shot of Big Ben.

A stroll over Westminster Bridge offers a kinder view, making the tower appear gently over your shoulder and not looming over the top of you.

Directly across the Thames is the Big Ben viewpoint, and it's around here that a good picture can be taken. It's also quieter and pedestrianised.

Taking advantage of this spot were Frances Katz, 23 from Lewisham - seen on the left - and Javiera Grez, 23, who was visiting from Chile.

They asked a passer-by to provide a record of their walk by the Thames.

And they recreated the shot for the BBC. "I came to this spot on purpose," Frances said. "This is the best place to take a photo around here."