My Top 3 Locations for Photography in St Andrews, Scotland

Where do I start with St Andrews. Way back in 2018 when I was first looking at my university options, St Andrews drew me right in. Regardless of it being one of the best universities in the UK - the gorgeous beaches, historic buildings and close proximity to the Tentsmuir Nature Reserve put it top of my list. I eventually looked into the nitty gritty of the academics and whatnot, but The Bubble already had me hooked.

#3 - Castle Sands

A young woman, Tanya, sporting her handmade skirt, on a rocky outcrop on St Andrews Castle Sands.
A young woman, Tanya, striking a ballet pose, on a rocky outcrop on St Andrews Castle Sands.
A young woman, Tanya, striking a dramatic pose on a rocky outcrop on St Andrews Castle Sands.

Photographing in St Andrews almost feels like cheating, because you can't really go wrong. Beach-wise, you have the dramatic rocky outcrops of Castle Sands, wide expansive stretches of beach on West Sands, and the most gorgeous backdrop of St Andrews seen from East Sands. The cover image above is at low tide on Castle Sands and was the perfect place to get some gritty, dramatic images of Tanya in these skirts (which she made herself!).

Another exciting element of Castle Sands is how we're always at mercy of its tides - at the wrong time, Castle Sands is totally submerged, and all of my favourite photo spots are underwater! But I love that about it - we, as humans, take our access to nature for granted. Having to meticulously plan around the tides might be a bit of a thorn in my side on a wedding day, for example, but it makes getting it right, and producing these images, that much more fulfilling.

So, as much as I love the other beaches of St Andrews, it's the rawness of Castle Sands that wins out for my Top 3 placing.

#2 - The Cloisters, St Salvator's Quadrangle

No matter what the Scottish weather throws at us, the Cloisters stand strong as a fantastic place to take a broad range of photographs in a variety of session types. The shape and position of the arches allows a whole bunch of light to enter, which then bounces off the beautiful sandstone walls, creating an almost studio-like lighting!

So if I'm ever on an engagement shoot, or a grad shoot, and the clouds start to look a bit dark, we hop into the Cloisters and take some gorgeous naturally-lit photos in the shelter of the sandstone. A lot of my images focus on the wooden Vestry door, still containing iron nails that are several hundred years old (I have to confess, an elderly lady did tell me the exact age of the nails back in 2021, but I've forgotten). However, it's not just about the door - the arches provide fantastic framing opportunities, the pillars are great to lean on for a casual look.

The life-saving aspect of the Cloisters puts it right up there in my Top 3.

#1 - The Gardens at St Salvator's Accommodation Gardens

Man oh man, the gardens in front of St Salvator's Accommodation. There's just no competition in Spring and Summer. The University's caretaking and gardening team really deserve all the credit for this one. The flowers are always stunning, the lawns tidy, the paths clear. Whatever session I'm doing, I always angle us towards these gardens.

That's right, the top spot is going to St Salvator's Accommodation Gardens.