Behind Glass Doors – A Stroll Through The Red Light District.

By Posted in - Europe & Photo Journal on October 19th, 2012

Last year we visited Amsterdam for the first time, and we took a stroll through the Red Light District. I wasn’t sure what to expect but I was surprised to find it wasn’t very seedy, it is definitely more of a tourist attraction. The main RLD street has a canal running through it along with bars, apartments, sex shops and restaurants. If you wanted you could just come here to grab a drink or a bite to eat. It was interesting to see that there were even families and tour groups were making their way through this storied neighborhood taking in all the red bathed sights.

While the main street seems a little like Adult Disneyland there are also plenty of small streets that make up the district. The small streets have a much more intimate feel, mostly because there aren’t as many people wandering through them and also because the streets are narrow.

The Red Light District is a very busy place with a strange mix of life in one small neighborhood. It a strange way it’s very beautiful – there’s so much happening both visually and mentally it takes a bit to process it all as you wander through the rouge colored alleys. For obvious reasons, it’s a very unique place to visit. As a woman it’s hard to look at the scene without thinking “What if…”. How do women end up here? Do they want to be here? In another life, could I be standing in their place? There’s so much to think about walking through the RLD. I elaborated on more of my thoughts when I published Modern Magdalene #1, my favorite photo from this series.

While we were there I also noticed that most of the women are actually behind glass doors, not windows, and when a customer comes up they simply open the door and let them in.

Below are some scenes from the world’s most historic Red Light District.





All of these photos were taken in the Amsterdam Red Light District using the manual setting on my camera and without the use of a tripod.

If you want to learn how to take your own great photos in low light check out my photo ebook – Getting Out Of Auto. Learn the ins & outs of exposure, composition and special techniques to help you get great shots!


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*Please remember all photos on this website, unless otherwise noted, are copyrighted and property of Beers and Beans Travel Website & Bethany Salvon. Please do not use them without my permission. If you do want to use one of them please contact me first. Thanks!

(12) awesome folk have had something to say...

  • Erica -

    October 19, 2012 at 7:19 am

    I am seriously in love with the set. The range of emotions shown caught me really off guard. I can’t wait to see this for myself.

  • Juliann -

    October 19, 2012 at 9:50 am

    Yep, this is pretty much how I remember it. But for some reason, I thought people weren’t supposed to take pictures. Now I can’t remember why I think that. But I’m headed to the RLD of Singapore. Do I dare get out my camera???

  • A Cook Not Mad (Nat) -

    October 19, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    Impressive, I was able to get a few pictures with the go pro when we were there this summer. When I took my bigger camera out things got crazy, they were spotting me from across the canals and freaking out.
    Juliann (above) you’re right to think that you’re not supposed to take pictures. There are plenty of signs to remind us but it’s impossible to stop everyone in this day and age of cell phones with built in cameras.

  • Nick -

    October 19, 2012 at 4:22 pm

    Nice… And the photos are great to. I vote for number 4… she could probably get me behind the glass door. 😉

  • Kieu ~ GQ trippin -

    October 20, 2012 at 8:13 pm

    WOW.. so impressed you managed to get photos! The one pic we tried to take and we got caught by one screaming.. umm.. fat lady behind the glass. We were so terrified we deleted the picture. Lol.. LOVE THIS. We’ll need to learn your tricks and visit again. 😉

  • Emiel -

    October 21, 2012 at 2:39 am

    Having been to Amsterdam lots of time I know how magical/scary/impressive/unreal this place is. I have to admit, just like the others, I really love your pictures! What a great set, also the black and white ones. Great job! 🙂

  • Erik -

    November 1, 2012 at 2:39 pm

    Wow- amazing pics. I once saw a burly man emerge from the darkness, grab a tourists camera who was trying to take a picture, and chuck it in one of the canals. Pretty gutsy!

  • Ashley of Ashley Abroad -

    November 9, 2012 at 10:32 am

    These pictures are unreal! I remember going to the Red Light District and seeing a few prostitutes and then turning around… it was a bit intimidating.

  • The Local Traveler -

    August 14, 2013 at 11:06 am

    I really need to get your eBook, these photos are so good. I find low-light and food photography so difficult! You really captured the red light district.

  • Adam P. -

    November 6, 2013 at 10:44 pm

    I guess this is one of those places that you hear about, but unless you see it for yourself you don´t really believe it. You fully understand its nature only after dark, when the red lights are on..and the deals are being made in front of your eyes..intimidating, maybe disgusting, but extremely intriguing nevertheless. Also, we were surprised to find out that the location is just as beautiful as other parts of the city with its old brick buildings, long windows and cobblestone streets.

  • Jonny Duncan -

    August 18, 2014 at 3:30 pm

    I lived on and off around the red light there for years. It was a lot more fun a decade ago than now. These days it has been cleaned up loads, and a lot of the windows and sex shops forced closed by the government.

  • Lina @ Divergent Travelers -

    September 27, 2014 at 6:44 pm

    Wow, GREAT photos!! I managed to sneak a few photos from the hip on my last visit there, but nothing like this!! I too saw one of the women react to photos, she had a glass of urine that she threw at someone she caught taking a photo of her! Would love to know your secret…. 🙂