Famous landmarks are often the busiest and most photographed places in the world. But they are that busy and photographed for a reason. Often this is because they are impressive buildings. Or they might be works of art or even natural phenomena. For any travel photographer, they are an absolute must from a destination. Although it can seem difficult, capturing unique and stylish photos of famous landmarks is possible. So here are some simple tips for photographing famous landmarks.
Start by walking around
The thing I always find staggering when photographing famous landmarks is the number of people who turn up, take a few photos and then leave. Not only are they not experiencing the landmark but they are also not allowing themselves enough time to do their photos justice. The first thing you should do at any landmark is to walk around it. This will help you get a feel for the place. Whilst walking around, think about viewpoints and angles that could be photogenic. Have your camera ready in case a situation arises that you don’t want to miss. But this time should be about finding good spots from which you can photograph.
Once you have got a good sense of the place you can begin to compose your image. When setting up to take the photo make sure you think about the light as well. Everything from the intensity to the direction can have a huge impact on the photo.
Include the crowd
You usually have to accept, that landmarks are going to be teeming with tourists. There is no way around this. Sometimes if you arrive early in the morning you may be lucky enough to have few visitors. Or if you are happy to be patient and wait for gaps in the flow of traffic you may get a few shots without the crowds. So rather than fighting it, sometimes it’s better to make the tourists a part of the composition. After all, tourists are a big part of the story of landmarks. The other advantage of featuring people is that it can make your images unique and stand out from the crowd. Everyone has seen enough photographs of the famous landmarks around the world. So to stand out you need to show something different.
Use a tripod
If you want to photograph the landmark from the outside, then it is likely that it would look best with a soft golden light. This is the sort of light that you will get in the early hours of the morning or late afternoon. Some landmarks are also great when photographing at night. If you are planning on photographing during any of these conditions (i.e. low light) you will need a tripod. Otherwise, you could end up with camera shake. But using a tripod will also allow you the opportunity to add creative effects into the photo. For example movement from people and vehicles which will look great against the famous landmark.
Do your research
You will find it difficult to find a famous landmark that hasn’t been photographed from every angle thousands of times. So to capture unique photos, you need to understand what already exists out there. Before photographing a landmark you should spend time researching it. But also research potential new ways and places you can photograph it from. All you need to do is type the landmark into Google and you will have thousands of results. This will give you a better chance of capturing a unique photo. But by learning more about it and its history you may also find that you appreciate it more when you see it.
Isolate a small part
Sometimes the best photos of famous landmarks are the ones which are not that obvious. For example, a small close up shot of a part of a landmark can sometimes show people a completely new way of looking at it. These details are often missed by the naked eye. Your research will play a big part in the arming you with the knowledge of important parts of the landmark. But the key is to study and observe every corner of the landmark. This will allow you to isolate a small part whilst still conveying the main message.
Capture the experience
It is easy to be overawed by the magnificence of the landmark before you. But sometimes the real story is happening all around the landmark itself. Whether that is tourists gasping in awe or locals going about their everyday lives. They often do so without care of what is in front of them. So every now and again look away from the landmark. Instead, look for moments that can help tell a completely different story.
Rules are not there to be broken
Whilst most of these landmarks have no problem with photography, you should still be aware of any rules in place. Often some of these places allow photography on the outside but not inside. If that’s the case, observe the rules and don’t break them. Doing so can result in you being evicted or even fined. In some instances, you may even be arrested. Don’t take the risk.
Landmarks are rightly some of the most photographed places in the world. They are also very difficult to photograph well. After all, any photo is competing with millions before it. Not mention the hordes of crowds who you often have to consider. But to capture unique and stunning photos of these landmarks is not impossible. It will just take research, perseverance and commitment to capturing a unique photo.
Kav Dadfar is a travel photographer and author of almost 350 articles on photography. He has years of experience shooting assignments with his images having been used by some of the biggest brands in the world.
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