Published by Andy from The Travel Hub
Andy is one of the Co-Founders of The Travel Hub. As well as traveling, Andy has a passion for photography. The opportunity to combine those passions leads him to places like Uzbekistan, a unique country in Central Asia that has some incredible history and architecture
Whilst Uzbekistan is full of quite ancient history and architecture, it is emerging as a new destination for travellers. From a photography perspective it offers some truly unique opportunities, making a visit to this Central Asian country well worth it.
To read all about visiting Uzbekistan, read my full review here.
I visited the cities of Tashkent, Samarkand and Bukhara. Unfortunately, time diud’t allow a visit to Khiva which is further West from Bukhara. Below are some of my favorite places to take photos in these cities:
My 5 top Photography Spots in Uzbekistan:
1. The Registan Complex (map) – Each of the 3 Madrasahs that make up The Registan provide multiple options for photos – either of the buildings themselves or lifestyle images.
Using a long lens to create square borders, the arches of Tilla Khari Madrasah is a great place to start. You will need to arrive early to avoid crowds and even then might need to Photoshop out a few people.
You can pay around USD2 to climb the tower of Ulugbek Madrasah for a view of Shidor Madrasah. It is a bit of a squeeze and the view is “ok”. Better if you like lifestyle/portrait photos is to use the first level of the Ulugbek Madrasah where you can create nice frames using the tiled mosaics.
2. Sunset view of Bukhara Mosques and Madrasahs from Coffee & Shop in Bukhara (map) – The Poi Kalyan complex in Bukhara is by far the most visited by tourists. Surprisingly however, the place we found with the best view was almost always empty – with most people just wanting the normal shots in front of the buildings. If you’re happy to pay the price of an orange juice or cup of tea, you can sit on the terrace of Coffee & Shop, just next to Ulugbek Madrasah (yes the names of buildings are the same in different cities). From here you get a superb view across the entire Poi Kalyan including Ulugbek Madrasah, Toqi Zargaron Bazaar’s domed roof, Kalyan Mosque & the dominant Kalyan Minaret, the back of Mir-i-arab Madrasah and the front of Abdulaziz Kahn Madrasah. The sun will set behind the Bazaar and Kalyan Mosque with the front arch of the Abdulaziz Kahn Madrasah glowing in the fading sunlight.
3. Inside Kalyan Mosque (map) – Certainly the Kalyan Mosque with the Minaret are the most photographed building in Bukhara, probably all of Uzbekistan. Most people will take a photo of the Minaret from the ground of Poi Kalyan Square and photos from inside the mosque. To find some unique views, I suggest:
- Using the archways especially on the south side of the mosque for lifestyle/portrait photos. In the late afternoon you can get some really nice light.
- It is possible to use the arch at the west end of the mosque courtyard to frame the inside of the mosque, Kalyan Minaret and the domes of Mir-i-arab Madrasah. You will be looking out from shadows, so bracketing and/or some post editing will be required.
- If there Is any rain, the ground of the courtyard in the mosque floods and you can get some great reflection images at sunrise and sunset.
4. Shah-i-zinda (map) – Another place to visit in Samarkand with some incredible architecture full of glazed bricks and tiled mosaics. This long narrow street is lined on either side with mausoleums containing the tombs of members of royal families. Local people will come in the mornings to pay their respects and are quite happy to be in photos. The lined streets also offer some interesting angles for photography with the contrasting colors of the tiles.
5. Tashkent Metro Stations – There is more reason to ride the metro in Tashkent than simply as an efficient mode of transport. Each station has uniquely designed architecture that can make for some unique photography locations. Visit early on the weekends to avoid crowds and you can buy a ticket for around USD0.2 and ride around the different stops. There are several that are especially great and there are some perfect opportunities for motion blur shots and also light trails with the trains.
I would recommend visiting:
- Alisher Navoi (my favorite)
Photography in Uzbekistan:
There are not many restrictions for photography in Uzbekistan – you are free to use a tripod almost anywhere including in the Metro stations and mosques, as long as you are taking photo and not video.
Flying drones are not permitted in Uzbekistan and I would avoid bringing one into the country if you can.
Local people are not adverse to having photos taken, most are very friendly and actually quite keen to be in photos. There isn’t a distinctive national dress, although in the winter many locals will wear the large wooly head-dress, the Chugirma. As always, I ask permission before taking any photos of people when I travel and did not have any objections in Uzbekistan. A few people asked for money and USD1 was considered plenty for a photograph and a poorly translated conversation over a cup of tea.
Some of the tourist places will charge a small extra fee if you are going to use a DSLR camera – around USD0.50