1. Pigeon House / Poolbeg
With the iconic Dublin Towers behind you and a small, shaded beach laid out in front, this is a great location for some portraits. There's a pier nearby too, which has a large, crumbling stone wall next to a walkway that fades into the sea.
And there's the condemned 'Pigeon House' nearby too, which while abandoned, lethally dangerous and now officially closed off (i.e. don't go in there), makes for some interesting photos in the background, from the carpark.
Check out my set with Eric from Poolbeg here.
2. Bull Island
Bull Island has a lot going for it. There’s the beach, obviously, but there’s alos the tall reeds, the long wooden bridge, the long stoned walkway which leads to a view of the Irish Sea. Large shipping boats pass by regularly too.
It’s great if you want open-sky shots, some distance on the horizon or a place with an unusual looking terrain for Ireland.
3. Furry Glen
This is my favourite. At the edge of the Phoenix Park, there’s a really beautiful spot called the Furry Glen. It’s got a step mucky road down to it, or a sweeping, curved tarmacked trail. Both are beautiful and lend themselves to some awesome leading-lines shots. You’ll see them in the images below.
Once you reach the bottom, there’s a large pond, which has a walk way the entire way around. There are white cherry blossom trees to one side of it too.
Passing the pond, you’ll find a steep road up, with a beautiful, old railing. It’s frequented by bikers, so you’ll have to keep an eye out for them (they don’t like slowing down), but otherwise it’s a premier spot for on-location shooting.
4. Crampton Court
This is a great spot in the middle of the city. However, It has been overshot at night - unsurprisingly, perhaps given the unusual green and pink fluorescent lights that come on after sunset. Check it out on a quiet, bright afternoon and you’ve got a location with light pouring in from two angles despite there being only one light source!
5. Johnstown Park
Alright, realistically any park will do. But I’m a proud Finglas Photographer and I love this spot. I grew up nearby, spending my Summer’s in this Park playing football and looking at the clouds.
The best thing about this spot is that it has an enclosed, rarely used Tennis court. Other than the week of Wimbledon, you can stroll in at any time during the Summer and practically have the place to yourself. The courts are neatly lined, they’ve a lovely hedge surrounding and there’s 8 courts in total, so you’ve options in terms of length, leading lines etc. too.
6. Botanic Gardens
Strictly speaking, you shouldn’t be be taking photos in the Botanic Gardens. No commercial photography is allowed, unless you have a permit; the wardens don’t care if it’s your professional or if you’re just a hobbyist with a load of gear - they’ll be onto you quickly if you’re acting the big shot or trampling over areas you shouldn’t be.
Play it safe - and be courteous of other patrons, by travelling light on equipment. The glasshouses here are enough to soften most light anyway, you shouldn’t need more than a sharp lens and a small reflector at the very most.
Avoid it on Sunday afternoons if you can - as this is the busiest time by far.
7. Howth (Deer Park)
There are few places that are worth the payoff. Deer Park in Howth is beautiful, but scaling to the top can be a bit of a hastle.
It used to be a wedding venue and it’s now a decent golf course and nature walk. There’s a portal dolmen there too - open to the public, just sitting there. But these are not the main attraction for photographers. Instead, if you take a left and scale the relatively steep, mucky incline on the left, you’ll be in location heaven.
There are ample locations on the way to the summit. A dense forest, with fallen trees and unsual flowers make for exceptional backdrops. Flat clearings with beautiful areas of dappled light are fantastic. And then there’s the summit itself.
From here you’re looking back into Dublin. There’s a beautiful view overlooking the skyline, but also got unusual rock formations, flowers and bushes to use in the backdrop too.
8. Dublin Castle
Dublin Castle is right in the heart of the city - and it’s a great location if you’re a Dublin Music Photographer too. It’s right opposite the Olympia, so any bands that might need a quick portrait for tomorrow’s papers with a scenic backdrop are in luck.
Again, you probably shouldn’t be tearing around the place with all your gear if you don’t want to get thrown out, but this is another ideal spot for a prime lens and reflector set-up. There’s lots of variety here, from small arches, to old wooden doorways, to flat cobbles areas the size of football pitches. It’s a great little site if you get there before the tourists. Sunday mornings are ideal here.
9. Marlay Park
This is a bit of a Northside-Heavy list, so here’s one from the triple-popped collar, rugger loving South side.
Marlay Park. It’s a stones throw from Dundrum Shopping Centre and it’s pretty enormous. There’s loads of places to wander off the beaten track and make it appear as if you were miles from Dublin City. Meandering Paths, distant horizons and huge fields make it a great spot for some isolated photos.
10. North Inner City
Back to the Northside with a bang. The North Inner City and Smitfield are visually pretty gritty. This is as urban as Dublin gets.
Bonus. Your Back Garden
Alright, I know. A bit of a cop out. At the same time, though, your back garden (f you have one) might be the ideal spot for your portraits. It’s got no parkies to worry about, there’s no weird people able to come chat to you and you can bring pre-prepared props should you need them.
There’s a desire with photographers to get out in the open, far away to an interesting place - only for them to take close up headshots negating the distance travelled. If you need an outdoor shot, think about your backgarden first.