Stairway to Heaven — Cool Photo Locations


© Frank Kovalchek | Munich, Germany

If you’re an on-location photographer or filmmaker, then you know how much value a great location can add to the shoot. I like to find and feature supercool locations around the world. Stuff I discover, stuff that others send me, places I’d love to shoot. If the location makes you scratch your chin, laugh aloud or the hair on your arms stands up… it might be a good location to shoot something original. Keep your knees bent and be ready – because these opportunities are ALL over. No matter where you live. You just have to be looking.

Sure, they serve the practical purpose of attaching one floor to another, but some architects really put the love into designing a stairwell.  Some are old, some are new, some symmetrical, others spiral, and some seem to be just for show (a la the one above located in Munich, Germany).

The best thing about this location: you can find one wherever you already happen to be. No need for expensive plane tickets or hotels in faraway places. Look hard enough and you’re bound to find a visually stunning set of steps right under your nose.  Hotels, libraries, art museums, transit systems, capitol buildings, and churches are all potential jackpots.  Live in a naturally hilly area?  Well aren’t you in luck.  You’ve likely got some sweet outdoor sets.

L’esprit d’escalier — literally translated as staircase wit – is a French term used in English that describes the predicament of thinking of the perfect comeback too late.  Apparently this term came from the French encyclopedist and philosopher Denis Diderot.  A remark was made to Diderot which left him speechless at the time…

a sensitive man, such as myself, overwhelmed by the argument leveled against him, becomes confused and can only think clearly again when he reaches the bottom of the stairs.

A curious phenomenon that happens to the best of us, right?

Regardless of how quick you can quip, go lace up a pair of comfy shoes and head out to find a new angle on an old staircase.


© Vince Alongi | Montevideo, Uruguay


© Tony Hisgett | London, England


© Till Krech | Berlin, Germany


© seier + seier | Hovedstaden, Denmark


© seier + seier | Hovedstaden, Denmark


© Richard Taylor | Austria


© opalsson | Brussels, Belgium


© Marja van Bochove | Leiden, Netherlands


© kennymatic | Vancouver, BC


© Ishmail Orendain | Boston, Massachuesetts


© Dennis Jarvis | Prahova, Romania

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Tim Roper says:

Some great staircases. And beyond the practical and architectural functions, stairs have a great emotional aspect to them. People use them to go places–not long distance physically maybe, but certainly emotionally. From the familiar street down to a new nightclub. A long walk up to a conference room for a meeting with a new client. From the bedroom to start the day. To the bedroom too…

And I think this emotion resonates in photos of staircases, which makes them pretty unique and special.

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