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Top Tips for Capturing Photos in Suzhou #SeenInSuzhou

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Dubbed “Venice of the East” by Marco Polo, Suzhou’s elegant canals, picturesque water towns, UNESCO-designated classical gardens, and traditional Chinese architecture sets the scene for a photographer’s paradise.

Steeped in history, the city’s 2,500 year-old past invites shutterbugs to capture its unrivaled cultural experiences, must-visit tourism attractions, and local customs through a unique lens, capturing moments in time that will remind travelers of their visit to Suzhou for years to come.

A number of travel photographers who have visited Suzhou in recent years have plenty of tips to share for travelers seeking the perfect shot:

Connect with Culture

Kun Opera captured by Dave Bouskill and Deb Corbeil, The Planet D
Kun Opera captured by Dave Bouskill and Deb Corbeil, The Planet D

“The culture and experiences are so different from what you’d expect. Keep an open mind and try new things. I never thought I’d find something to photograph when going to an opera, but it ended up being one of the most fascinating experiences we had in Suzhou, and we came away with great shots.” – Dave Bouskill and Deb Corbeil, The Planet D

Ladies preparing dumplings
Having a camera opens so many doors. In my case, it opened up gardens, teahouses, and silk factories. We were able to go behind the scenes, meet those who are continuing Suzhou’s ancient tradition in the modern world and speak with so many locals through on-camera interviews.” – Kelley Ferro, On-air Travel Expert & Filmmaker
Slik factory
“Taking photos in Suzhou allowed me to dive deeper into the local culture. I was able to learn more about its rich history with textiles, gardening, craftsmanship, and more, all from behind a lens.” – Stacey Leasca, Freelance Journalist & Professor


Set the Scene

Tongli Canal
“Try to truly feel the destination and what is happening around you. It will help you freeze the moments in time more beautifully by paying attention to the little things that happen in the daily life of the locals in Suzhou. ” – Nastasia Yakoub, Founder of Dame Traveler

Suzhou Cuisine
“Have your camera ready at all times. You never know what you may find around the next corner. I enjoyed capturing hidden moments, the joy of tasting local foods, and finding something new. It’s a very different culture from my own, so it was wonderful to capture
moments of learning which is the true essence of travel.” – Stacey Leasca

Sunset at the Chaozong Pavilion
“I find that photography brings people together. Locals are interested in looking at the photos we are taking, and local photographers are interested in chatting about gear and locations. When shooting sunset at the Chaozong Pavilion, a local photographer set up his tripod beside mine and we compared photos.” – Dave and Deb

Tell a Story and Transport Your Audience

“A good photograph immediately transports the viewer right to that destination, making them feel like they are there in that moment.” – Nastasia Yakoub

Tongli Water Town Photo: Nastasia Yakoub, Dame Traveler
Tongli Water Town Photo: Nastasia Yakoub, Dame Traveler
Panman Gate Park
Panmen Gate Park Photo: Matt Payne Travel Photography
“To me, a good photo is one that tells a story. I think of it in three parts. You need nice light - mornings and evenings, a beautiful setting, and most importantly, something happening in that setting. I went to Panman Gate Park to take a photo with the morning light. There, the pagodas and the ponds certainly created a sense of place, but when the morning sun seemed to land on a couple joyfully slow-dancing under one of the park’s pavilions, I knew I had the shot I wanted.” – Matt Payne

Canals along Shantang Street
Canals along Shantang Street
Photo: Stacey Leasca

“What makes a good travel photograph is one that captures the spirit of a destination. It doesn’t have to be perfectly composed or taken on a fancy camera. Instead, a great travel photo is one you can simply look at and understand a place just through this one visual.” – Stacey Leasca


These photography tips are part of the recently launched #SeenInSuzhou campaign designed to showcase Suzhou’s culture, heritage, and tourism experiences through visual activations. Travelers can follow the campaign and related events via Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter (@VisitSuzhou) and share their photos using the campaign hashtag #SeenInSuzhou and destination hashtag #TravelSuzhou for the chance to be featured on the our Instagram stories.

For more beautiful photography, follow each of our experts on Instagram: