Seeing Barcelona Through a Different Lens

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When I visit a new city for the first time, I'm gonna be honest: I'm a total tourist.

I hit up all the famous spots, sporting my (sometimes) ugly walking sandals with a camera hanging around my neck. NO SHAME.

There are certain places that are must-sees for a reason, and I'm not going to skip them when visiting a city for the first time just because others have taken photos of them before me. (And, in fact, I often visit places over and over again — I was in London for the fifth time this week, and took photos of Big Ben and St. Paul's for the fifth time. Don't judge.)

Casa Batllo in Barcelona
For example, I couldn't skip Gaudi's works in Barcelona!

BUT, there are certainly times when the crowds get to me and I want to do something a little different. You know, to keep things interesting.

So when in Spain earlier this year, I decided to sign up for a photography tour of Barcelona.

Barcelona's El Born neighborhood

I've done cool tours of cities before — everything from food tours to Game of Thrones tours — but never a photography tour before. (Which is actually kind of weird, considering how much I love taking photos.)

I had no clue what to expect from FotoRuta, which offers photography tours in Barcelona, London, Buenos Aires, and Santiago. I didn't even know where the tour would take place until after I booked it.

This could have turned out horribly — but it didn't. The tour ended up being way better than I expected.

Barcelona's El Born neighborhood

Street art in El Born, Barcelona

I went on one of FotoRuta's Streetscape tours, which is cool in that you don't know the neighborhood you'll be exploring until after you book the tour. Our tour focused on the El Born neighborhood, which is similar to Barcelona's well-known Barri Gotic in that it's got lots of narrow alleys and some cool architecture, but it has FAR less tourists milling about.

Barcelona's El Born neighborhood

Street in Barcelona's El Born neighborhood

We started out with a drink and some tips on making the most out of our tour before hitting the streets. Our guide, Alejandro, did a great intro to creative photography — we talked about composition, lighting, and finer aspects of photography like ISO and aperture. Our tour group was just me and another girl, me shooting with my mirrorless camera and her shooting with an iPhone.

Once we were out on the streets, Alejandro did a great job of giving us personalized tips based not only on what we were shooting with, but also based on what sorts of things caught our eye (I discovered that I have a thing for lines and repeating patterns!).

El Born Cultural Center

El Born Cultural Center

We meandered around El Born, him suggesting streets and shots based on what he thought we would find interesting. I took a ton of photos — photos so different from the “typical” touristy shots you usually see from Barcelona.

Barcelona's El Born neighborhood

Barcelona's El Born neighborhood

Street in Barcelona's El Born neighborhood

After a couple hours of shooting, we headed to another bar for a drink and to look at some of our shots. We each chose about 5-7 of our favorite photos, uploaded them to Alejandro's laptop, and spent some time talking about/critiquing each one. This was really fun — and it was so interesting to see how someone else had interpreted the same places I'd just seen.

Barcelona's El Born neighborhood

Barcelona's El Born neighborhood

If you find yourself with some extra time in Barcelona and want to up your photography game in the city, I highly recommend a tour with FotoRuta. They also do iPhoneography tours, and even a photo scavenger hunt that will send you all around the city.


  • What: FotoRuta Streetscape Tour
  • When: Monday-Thursday and the first Saturday of the month
  • How much: 80 Euro per person
  • How long: Our tour lasted about 4 hours
  • Who is it for? Everyone from beginners to experienced photographers

Is this a type of tour YOU would consider in Barcelona?



*Note: I was offered a free spot on this tour by FotoRuta (set up by the folks at GoWithOh), however all opinions remain my own!

"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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38 Comments on “Seeing Barcelona Through a Different Lens

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  1. How awesome! I’ve never thought about taking a photography tour of a city, but it seems like a great way to see things differently.

      This was the first time I ever did it, but I’d definitely do it again! I noticed so many things I probably would have missed if I’d just been wandering around on my own. Plus, visiting a neighborhood I may have never wandered through otherwise was a huge bonus.

    I love travelling!! It’s only through travelling that you are able to see what a tiny place you occupy in this world. With your awesome photos, believe me; I am going to make sure I have a photo tour soon.

    Loved your photos of Barcelona. The photo tour sounds wonderful. I am not a scaredy cat but I have always been leery of that city because of all the pick pockets and crime I hear about. I am aware of my surroundings, am careful, wear a money belt and have never been robbed in forty years of overseas travel….but Barcelona has always terrified me. It’s on the list now! I can’t wait to read about your time in Liverpool seeing the Beatles sights – I hope your mom was as blown away as I was by visiting John and Paul’s homes.

      I had heard all those terrible things about Barcelona, too. And yes, they DO happen. But I had a wonderful time in the city and never ran into any problems! I would definitely tell you to reconsider and go. As long as you’re smart, you should be fine!

    Absolutely! I love beautiful photographs and always strive to do better. You can never learn too many tips. A great idea. 🙂

      Agreed! Even the littlest tips can be a huge help – photography is one of those things where you can always learn something new.

    Barcelona has more cool in its streets than entire countries elsewhere in the world … I wanna go so bad now!

      It definitely is a cool city – I’m looking forward to going back!

    Awesome. I did the same tour in Santiago a couple of years ago. I loved it. It’s such a great way to see a different side of a city, neighbourhoods you otherwise wouldn’t have gotten to know and become creative yourself.

      Oh that’s awesome that you’ve done the same tour in another part of the world! Glad to hear you enjoyed it just as much as I did.

    I like to do the touristy things when I first get somewhere because I don’t like to miss out on the popular things everyone talks about. But I also like to do things that the native people do and see what life would be life if I lived there!

      Yup, that mixture always works for me, too!

    I too am a tourist when it comes to visiting a place no matter how many times I’ve seen it. No shame here. :p

    I have always seen photography tours but I feel quite intimidated by it as I’m not really a pro and I feel like I’d slow down the group. Your post made me want to take one now though. 🙂

      If you find the right tour, you can actually learn a lot! I definitely am not a pro. And the other girl in my group was taking some awesome shots on her iPhone! A lot of times, the trick isn’t having expensive equipment. It’s just learning to see things differently. You should try a photography tour sometime!

    Wow love your pictures, this tour is really something i want to do next time in Barcelona.

      Thanks! I think it was well worth it. The chance to explore a cool neighborhood AND get some photo tips from a pro made for a very cool afternoon.

    The photos were great, for more like this consider the Barcelonetta are if you return. Very few tourists, great beaches and great subject matter.

      I went there, too, albeit on my own later on in my trip. It definitely is so different from the rest of Barcelona!

    I’ve never considered a photo tour, but it sounds like a lot of fun, and the photos you have here are fantastic. It’s nice that you ended up on a small tour and that the guide offered personalize suggestions too.

      Yes the small group was great, especially since it meant our guide could really personalize things.

    What gorgeous photos! I love seeing the big ticket attractions in a city too – but it can definitely be nice to get into a less explored neighborhood, especially in a place like Barcelona!

      Yes, it was such a nice change. I wouldn’t have substituted it for seeing some of the Gaudi works that I saw, but it was great for the extra afternoon I had.

    I love your not-so-typical photos of Barcelona, especially the patterns and details! I remember getting lost in some side streets away from the main touristy areas and got some of my favourite shots from the trip. Will check out FotoRuta the next time 😀

      And there’s so much of Barcelona that I still haven’t seen!

    Love your photos of Barcelona! They are so different from the normal touristy photos – it has given me a lovely insight into a different side of the city. Want to get back there some day! And I’ll definitely check out FotoRuta if I do 🙂

      Yeah I would definitely recommend them! Or, at the very least, to explore a bit away from the typical tourist spots!

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