Join me on a tour of Montreal, Quebec—through the photographer’s lens:
In This Montreal Travel Article You Will Discover:
- A Kaleidoscopic Structure
- Historical Architecture
- Vibrant Fall Foliage
- Unique Street Art
- And More!
If I were to move to any other Canadian city, I’d choose Montreal. (BTW—it’s a BIG deal for a smug Vancouverite to admit another Canadian city rivals his own.)
My opinion might shift after I spent the winter there, but factoring in the food, the architecture and the overall joie de vivre, I think I’d be happy in Montreal. I particularly enjoy Le Plateau-Mont-Royal. It’s exactly what you want this city to be: rod-iron staircases, historic brickwork, chic bistros and lots of bicycle traffic.
I recently spent five days in Montreal, and even though four of those days were spent in a conference, I was still able to sneak away and wander the city a little. I joined a photography tour, led by local photog Carrie MacPherson. Our group of shutterbugs hit a handful of picturesque locales, and at each, we permitted ourselves time to get artsy.
Viewing the world through a creative lens is a nice exercise. I’m so often shooting in outdoorsy locations, so crafting urban scenes was an unusual challenge in itself. And since our purpose for the day was photography first and foremost, it was fun to spend time framing scenes and occasionally trying techniques and concepts that, frankly, didn’t work out. Every failure, after all, illuminates a pathway to success.
Looking for the city’s most photogenic locations? Read on:
Old Montreal is the most architecturally interesting district in the city. (I just wish there were fewer tacky souvenir stores.) We spent our time around Places d’Armes. With its famous Maisonneuve Monument, the stunning Notre-Dame Basilica, the city’s first high-rise, a Brutalist skyscraper, the Art Deco Aldred Building and Canada’s first bank… well, if you wanna photograph architecture, this is a one-stop shop.
Palais des congrès de Montréal
Thanks to its multicoloured glass exterior, this ultramodern convention centre is popular with Instagramers. Most really crank-up the colour saturation when shooting against its geometric Rainbow Brite walls. I found this a challenging location to photograph. Sure, I could have snapped a smiling selfie in front of the kaleidoscopic glass, but I wanted something different. So I got creative and tried a little light-painting. (Click to see what the place really looks like.)
Camera or no camera, Marché Jean-Talon should be on your itinerary. Whether for gathering groceries or just buying some to-go pastries and decadent coffee, this bustling, multi-faceted, half-indoor-half-outdoor market is a Montreal staple. The colours and textures of the on-sale fruits and veggies make for fun still-life subjects. And the merchants are very patient with roaming photogs.
Old Port of Montreal
Looking out past the iconic clocktower and over St. Lawrence River to the former Expo ’67 grounds provides a classic Montreal vista. Bonus points if you arrive during fall colours or brave the icy drama of mid-winter. Despite the wide-angle beauty of the area though, I opted for a close-up. Any idea what you’re looking at here?
For a funky stop along St-Laurent Boulevard, try Murale à l’ESPACE GO—handily located across from Schwartz’s, home to the best smoked-meat in the city. Montreal is rich with street art, and this chaotic monochrome mural is one of the best examples. Then, wander outward and immerse in the atmosphere of Le Plateau.
You’ll have to hurry if you’d like to capture the fall foliage. It was in peak form during my late-October visit, but I imagine the leaves are starting to drop by now. I’ve been in spring, when it’s lush and green, which is also a lovely time. Winter’s snow would also provide dramatic photo ops. Or just go anytime for a 180-degree view atop the city. By law, no Montreal building can be built higher than this mountain—so this pleasant vista will remain forever.