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Venice Photography Tips

Venice is a traveler’s and photographer’s dream….well almost. Romantic gondolas, cafes along the canals, beautiful Venetian architecture, cathedrals and palaces, so much to see and do and yes, eat. We love it all.

The problem is that we are far from the only ones that love it. No matter what time of year, there will be tourists, lots of tourists, and with tourists come challenges. Luckily we know of a few hidden corners in Venice, as well as where to capture some great images. We hope you enjoy our Venice photography tips.

Gondolas moored in front of church in Venice.
The view from the Venice train station…not bad!

Mastering Photography at Venice’s Top Sights

Seafood spaghetti in Venice restaurant.
Here’s that spaghetti shot I wanted! It was pouring outside.

The last time we were in Venice was the end of September, which may not quite be high season, but it’s certainly still full of people. We were there for the Scott Kelby annual Photowalk, so for a few hours on a Saturday morning we wanted to capture all those iconic and stunning shots of places like Piazza San Marco, the Grand Canal, the beautiful bridges, and of course the gondolas. We had a few issues to deal with, but I think we came away with some decent shots. You be the judge.

Does this make it on our Top 5 Places to Visit in Italy? (podcast)  

Venice Photography Tips

Quiet corner of Venice with outdoor restaurant.
Early risers get a different view of the city.

1. Dealing With Venice High Season Crowds

When you are on a trip to Venice, as popular as it is, you will naturally run into lots of people. There is no way around it, there will be people in your shots.

The question is, how can you minimize this? First, go early. When I say early, I mean early. We didn’t go early enough. Our photowalk started at 10:00, and we arrived there about 9:30. I counted 12 full tour groups standing around the square already. The square was far from full, but there was no way to get a clean shot of Saint Mark’s Basilica or of anything else for that matter.

San Marco square ion Venice, Italy.
San Marco’s is just waking up.

What do you do if you don’t get up early? Shoot high, over the heads of the people. We took photos of the clock, the towers, and the top of the cathedral. We took photos of the cafes and waiters, musicians, and people having a cup of coffee, life in San Marco’s, not the square itself or full images of the buildings.

Additional Italy Reading:
60 Fantastic and Fun Things to do in Florence
10 Days In Italy, Itinerary For First Time Visitors
Venice Hop On Hop Off Tour

Water traffic on the Grand Canal in Venice.
The many boats of the Grand Canal.

2. Walking Around With All Your Gear

Venice is a walking city. In order to get those early or late shots, you might want to stay in the center of the city like we did. If you don’t, you will be adding a minimum of 30 minutes on either end of your day.

A day pounding the pavement can be hard on your feet as well as other parts of your body, so make sure to have great walking shoes on and don’t pack too much in your gear bag.

Can you get away with only one lens? Two? Will you use that tripod if you haul it around? Be honest with yourself and know that you will get tired. Take breaks. Use the banisters, window ledges, columns for stabilization. Some of Venice’s alleyways and canals are very narrow, so it can be difficult to pull out a lot of gear.

Open-air fresh fish market in Venice.
The fish market at Rialto.

3. Composing The Shot Without Sky

The day of our photowalk, which was not a changeable date, it was overcast and rainy. There was no blue sky; it was just gray. Ugly gray. So from my first tip, you can see I was trying to shoot high to avoid having tons of people in the shot, but I was also trying to avoid too much white space, since there was no sky at all. It was a dilemma.

Wood carved mask for sale in Venice market.

What do you do when you want to avoid sky? You can shoot details and you can shoot inside. If you have traveled anywhere in the rain, you know it’s a bummer. Walking requires a raincoat, an umbrella, and a lens shield, and you don’t want to tip your camera up, because it will get raindrops on it.

Venice clock tower.
Clock tower

So, when you are outside, take advantage of shop awnings, doorways, anything that will give you cover as you compose your shot. If you can do this from a balcony, all the better. Or, you can just go inside.

We found the fantastic fish market, which is part of the Rialto Market. It was inside, lit up with plenty of strong fluorescent lights and even some natural light coming through the archways and windows. Markets are always full of colorful images, so we just stayed there a little longer instead of walking in the rain.  

Gondola boat dock with black and white mooring poles.
This shot was from a little known boat dock far from the crowds thanks to our guide.
Gondolas in the rain.
Rain does bring out the misty shots which add mood, so it’s not all bad.

4. Hiring A Private Guide

We were so lucky being on the photowalk. Yes, I’ve been to Venice enough times to know my way around pretty well. I can get myself to all the major sights, find a restaurant, find my way back to my hotel, but I don’t know all the secret vantage points for getting some good shots.

Venice waterfront mansion.
No sky in this shot…it’s raining.

We had two locals guiding us through the throngs of people and showing us the best places to get some fantastic images. Even though there must have been over 300 people on the Bridge of Sighs alone, Antonio and Paolo took us on some deserted alleyways, and to boat docks that no one would know about except the locals.

How do you do this on your own?  There are a couple of ways. You can hire a private guide in just about any city. The tourist information center or your hotel can recommend guides, and they might even be able to find some that specialize in photography.

Another way is to try and make contact with someone through a travel or photography forum beforehand. There are plenty of people that wouldn’t mind taking you around for the day, you just have to find them.

Making tiramisu.
An artisan baker

5. Making A Venice “Shot List” Before You Go

This is another important step in making sure you leave with all the images that you wanted. Jot down the things that you think of when you think of Venice.

I think of gondolas, spaghetti, beautifully dressed men and women, cathedrals, and canals. I wanted to make sure that I got all of these shots, so I wrote it down ahead of time.

Your list is for you, so if you are interested in say architecture, I would make a list of all of the great buildings and where they are in the city so I could photograph them. If you are into boats, I would find out where the various marinas are.

For me, I just love taking images of people going about their everyday lives, so I like to wander the back alley and quiet neighborhoods to see what I can find.

View of Venice from the water on a foggy day.
Looking across the bay

Things to Do Nearby

There are plenty of towns and cities that you might want to combine with a trip to Venice. You can visit Vicenza, which has a beautiful town center, some wonderful Palladian villas, and great food. We also recommend visiting the Skocjan Caves in Slovenia…just massive and awesome.

Practical Information for visiting Venice, Italy

  • Venice, Italy is an easy city to walk, you can cross the historic city in about 30 minutes on foot.
  • With nearly 60,000 tourists visiting Venice each day, you might consider staying within the historic city to allow time for sightseeing after the day tripping crowds have left.
  • There are no motorized vehicles driving around Venice so forget about taking a taxi to your hotel.
  • There are boat taxis, and water buses that ply the major waterways but they are ridiculously expensive for constant use.
  • Use the Areobus + Ship ticket to get to and from Marco Polo airport and your hotel.
  • If you are staying near San Marco square consider the airport water bus, it is a little cheaper but takes considerably longer.
  • Staying in the heart of Venice? You might like the Hotel Montecarlo, a few minutes walk from San Marco square.
Venice canal at night.
Nighttime along the canals…so romantic. We did not have our tripod, we set the camera on a bridge rail.

Which was your favorite photo?

Author Bio: Corinne Vail is a travel photographer, food lover, and a perpetual traveler who has been travel writing for over 14 years. For many years she lived overseas in Germany, Japan, Turkey, South Korea, and the Netherlands teaching the children of the US. military. She’s visited over 90 countries, and she’s not stopping anytime soon.

Pin Venice Photo Tips for later.
Venice black and white pylons.
Going to Venice? You need these professional photo tips to make your memories the best they can be!

Mike Clegg -

Thursday 4th of May 2017

Stunning shots of this beautiful city! You've captured so many elements showing what this destination is like! Great work!

Corinne Vail

Thursday 4th of May 2017

Mike, Thanks! It's a beautiful city.

Krysti Jaims

Thursday 4th of May 2017

These are such helpful tips! I visited during the high season and I sure could have used some of these!

Corinne Vail

Thursday 4th of May 2017

Krysti, Most people visit then, so I hope it is helpful.


Monday 1st of May 2017

The Venice photo tips shot is my favorite.

Corinne Vail

Tuesday 2nd of May 2017

Thanks Alicia

Comments are closed.