I've been asked by friends to take a group photo with a canal in Amsterdam as background. While I realize that there's no 'best' location (these things are often very subjective) I was wondering if there are people on this site who have some tips with regards to location based on more objective metrics like lack of traffic/tourists at certain locations and space available to create enough distance between me and the group.

Given that I'd like to make the most of the available light, I'm looking to take the photo's between 15:00-16:00 (might be useful when thinking of traffic/tourism)

  • \$\begingroup\$ I have voted to close this question as too localized. If it were recast in a more general form, such as asking about criteria for selecting locations for group photos, I suspect it would have much more value to most readers. \$\endgroup\$
    – whuber
    Dec 5, 2012 at 17:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ Honestly, I found the whole place to be pretty photogenic, virtually any canal bridge will make for a good group photo. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 5, 2012 at 18:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't think it's too localized. See this meta discussion. Amsterdam is a major tourist destination with over 5 million visitors annually, many of whom want to take group photos by the famous canals. By contrast, how many people are wanting to repair a 1929 Voigtlander Bessa? — a question I think no one has a quibble with. \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Dec 5, 2012 at 18:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ the Voigtlander Bessa question was great, in any case :-) I agree with @mattdm, for me the criterion for too-localized is "is this question searchable by someone with reasonable keywords?" and I can see someone looking for scenic places in Amsterdam. \$\endgroup\$
    – Francesco
    Dec 5, 2012 at 19:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm from the Netherlands, although not from Amsterdam. Personally, I think the Herengracht is a beautiful canal. It has many bridges that cross it, so many potential places to take the shot. It's also quite a busy canal though, but you'll have to work around that some way, as Amsterdam generally is small and crowded. As for your suggested shooting time, take note that in the winter the days are very short and your available light will already be limited by 16:00. \$\endgroup\$
    – Fer
    Dec 11, 2012 at 18:26

2 Answers 2


On of the most beautiful channels is the "Prinsengracht". There are trees around that give a nice frame, too.

There are some spots where the bridge over the channel is wider and you can get some distance between you and the group. For example here. This location should have the right direction for afternoon light.

On every spot in Amsterdam however there is a risk that some cafe or other shop might setup their chairs on free spaces. To go blindly to a place is not really recommended, specially in summer.


The three main canals that form a horseshoe around the central railway station - the Herengracht, Keizersgracht and Prinsengracht - are all ideal. The architecture is very typical Amsterdam round there (tall, narrow houses with typically Dutch facades) and as a plus the little hump-backed bridges that cross the canals provide you with excellent locations to stage a shoot.

Here's a wonderful example from Flickr, taken on the Herengracht (the geo-tag will show you the exact location.) Just imagine your group on that bridge.


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