The Twelve Best Photographic Perspectives of Downtown Raleigh—And How to Get the Shot

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Bryan Regan has been photographing Raleigh for a lifetime.

He grew up here, went to school here, and eventually made his way to N.C. State University’s College of Design. He quit, shipped off to photography school in the western part of the state, quit again, and returned to establish himself as a successful editorial and commercial photographer in Raleigh during the last two decades.

From his studio at the edge of downtown Raleigh, Regan has built an extensive catalogue of perspectives on the city, including his popular and lovely “Morning View” series. With that in mind, we asked Regan to chronicle his favorite dozen vantages of Raleigh, along with notes on how to get the shots. That follows, and look for Regan at CAM Raleigh’s “Exposure Time” benefit this weekend.

1. Dorothea Dix Park (Above)

Everyone’s seen the Raleigh skyline from Dix Hill, but if you make a right and drive all the way to the end of the road, you get a better perspective. The home on the right is being redone and will house a museum and welcome center in the future. Go for the late-day shot, just as the sun goes down.

2. Boylan Bridge


A great place to shoot Raleigh’s skyline. If you dare, sneak around the side and capture part of the bridge in the image. This is great to shoot at sunrise or sunset.

3. South Saunders & McDowell streets


This is the skyline shot you’ll see in most magazines when they talk about Raleigh. I usually park at Ray Price, the Harley dealership, and walk across the street and shoot at the edge of the road.

4. Memorial Auditorium on Fayetteville Street


Looking down Fayetteville Street toward the State Capitol. I call this “Lake Raleigh.” You get a nice reflection from the water in the fountain, and you don’t even need a tripod.

5. South Bloodworth & East Cabarrus streets


This view reminds me of how Raleigh keeps growing but retains some of its small-town charm. Go in the early morning, and maybe I’ll see you there.

6. King’s Motel on South Wilmington Street


You can never go wrong with a cheesy motel and a soybean plant. Make sure to check out the back, by the plant entrance. You can shoot this any time of day.

7. East Davie Street and Chavis Way


This great view looks downtown with Stone’s Warehouse on the left. It’s soon to be redeveloped by The Transfer Company, so get the shot while you can.

8. Wilmington Street Parking Deck on South Blount Street


Find the outside staircase, and climb to the sixth floor. You get a nice view looking back at the city. This offers good sunset shots and a great place to shoot storms as they roll in.

9. West Martin Street & Harrington streets


This spot captures some of that old warehouse charm in the foreground and the sleek new look of the city in the rear.

10. West South and South Dawson streets


There’s a grass hill you can climb to get a nice view looking back at the Raleigh Convention Center. If your timing is right, you can catch a train passing on the bridge, too.

11. East Martin and Freeman streets


This is a perfect view in the fall, when the leaves have fallen from the trees.

12. North Carolina Museum of Art


It’s hard to take a bad picture out here. Make sure to check out Thomas Sayre’s giant rings, the outdoor Rodin gallery, and (if you hurry) some giant bunnies.

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