Photonic spin density (PSD) in the near-field gives rise to exotic phenomena such as photonic skyrmions, optical spin-momentum locking and unidirectional topological edge waves. Experimental investigation of these phenomena requires a nanoscale probe that directly interacts with PSD. Here, we propose and demonstrate that the nitrogen-vacancy (NV) center in diamond can be used as a quantum sensor for detecting the spinning nature of photons. This room temperature magnetometer can measure the local polarization of light in ultra-subwavelength volumes through photon-spin-induced virtual transitions. The direct detection of light’s spin density at the nanoscale using NV centers in diamond opens a new frontier for studying exotic phases of photons as well as future on-chip applications in spin quantum electrodynamics (sQED).