I just searched for Eiffel Tower photos on Alamy (a well-known stock photo website). 84,812 was the number of photos that they had featuring this travel icon. That is just on one website and not including all of the other images taken by smartphones or point and shoot cameras by regular tourists. In this age of digital photography, there are no real travel icons that have not been photographed millions of times before. So how can you capture a photo of something that has been photographed so much in a unique way? Here are 5 ways to capture a travel icon in a new way.
A new view
Let’s be honest, you won’t find a new view of a landmark from what already exists. Even the most secret of locations will have been ticked off by local photographers. Often one of the best ways to capture a new view of an iconic landmark is to try and be first when a new view of it appears. For example, this could be a new roof-top bar or even a hotel that has recently been built that offers a new location for shots. You won’t have a lot of time but if you are first to a new opening you may be able to get a few months of little competition to your photo.
The other option for unique photos is to actually find a view that isn’t available to the public. This takes more organisation and planning and you will need to get permission from the owners. For example, someone might live in a flat which has a unique view of an iconic landmark. You could always approach them to see if they are willing to allow you to take photos from their flat.
An old view, with a twist
The vast majority of the time you will have the same locations as everyone else. So it is up to you to try and come up with a new twist that will make your photos unique. For example, you can look for new and unusual angles. Most people take photos at eye level. So why not set your camera really low and capture a low angle shot instead? Alternatively, stand on a bench or even use a photo mast to get a high angle view. You can also incorporate a point of interest in your photos such as a person, animals or even vehicles. Not only will this add to the story but it also helps your photo stand out.
Wait for the right conditions
One of the best ways to capture a unique view of a well-photographed travel icon is to do it when you have dramatic weather. This is obviously easier if you live near the place you want to photograph as you can wait for the right conditions and get there quickly. Anything from a dramatic sunset, stormy weather and even lightning can help create unique photos. Another great time for photographing iconic places is during winter when there is frost or snow. Most people prefer to stay out of the cold in these conditions so if you can capture these types of shots they may stand out from the crowd.
Look for details
Every major landmark in the world has photos of the usual full view. Even everyday tourists take those types of photos. But often something that people miss even when they visit a landmark are the details. If you can capture these types of photos, not only will they give your portfolio variety but they will also often be a completely a different view of that landmark. So get up close and fill the frame with details. These could be intricate carvings on the wall or even a wider view, but the focus should be on the details. A good method is to use a telephoto lens if you have one. This will ensure that you can’t get to a wider view and you will usually find yourself zooming in more.
Make it different
This is not a method for purists who prefer not to post-process photos too much. But one way that you can create something a little different is by doing so in post-production. The reality is that no matter what a photo is like when you took it, it would usually benefit from some post-production anyway. How far you will take that will come down to personal choice. But don’t ever feel that you can’t manipulate the photo to get what you like. Depending on your proficiency in editing software, there are so many things that you can do. There are also thousands of presets out there that you can either get for free or purchase that will give you a whole host of different effects and looks. One simple filter can dramatically change the look of a photo.
To capture something new and unique of an iconic landmark isn’t easy these days. Most places have been over-photographed from pretty much every angle. But even now there are still ways to capture something new and unique. As always with any sort of photography, research plays a big part. With good research, hard work, persistence and innovative thinking, you will be able to capture famous landmarks in a new way.
Photo credits: Kav Dadfar – All rights reserved. No usage without permission.