When you travel to a new place for the first time, you’ll probably want to tick off all the touristy things. Iconic locations like the Eiffel Tower, Iceland’s waterfalls, and the Canals of Amsterdam deserve their elevated status, and they’re very much worth visiting.
That popularity, however, comes at a price. Many tourists find these spots overcrowded when they get there, and if you go onto any social media channel, you’ll notice many of the same photos published on multiple occasions.
You don’t have to resign yourself to taking identical pictures to everyone else; all you need is a little creativity. This article will identify simple ways to take unique photos of popular tourist destinations and attractions.
1. Wait for Different Times of the Day
Regardless of where you go, many touristy spots have their worst crowds when everybody’s awake. Besides not being an ideal time to visit, you might also need to endure harsh lighting conditions—which will make it trickier for you to get the types of photos you want.
If you want to take more unique pictures of iconic spots, you should take a little time to plan your photoshoots. Sunrise is an excellent time to go out for a spot of photography; the lighting is softer, and you’ll mostly meet locals at these sites.
On the flip side, sunset is another great time to capture interesting photos—even if you might have larger crowds. You can use several apps to help you plan the best photography times; Unscripted, for example, has a feature that lets you see when blue hour and golden hour starts. You can learn more about Unscripted in this article.
2. Look for Unique Angles
If you want to capture more original images in locations that tourists frequent, you don’t have to try too hard. Many people take their photos at the same angle, and usually, that’s at face height. Moreover, you’ll notice that many pictures are head-on.
When you think outside the box, you’ll notice that you’ve got countless options for unique angles. For example, you might find a couple of backstreets that offer interesting perspectives.
You can also consider hopping on a boat tour to experience the same attractions from more of an interesting—and less crowded—vantage point. Other ideas include:
- Crouching down
- Taking photos from a corner
- Looking for reflections in puddles and mirrors
3. Use a Telephoto Lens
Wide-angle lenses have several benefits and are the perfect companion if you want to improve your travel photography skills. But if you’re going to take more unique photos of touristy locations, you might want to switch things up a little.
Telephoto lenses are bulkier and less convenient to carry around. However, they let you get closer to your subject without having to move nearer in a physical sense. You can easily pick out unique details in the tourist attractions you’re visiting, such as textures on a building.
While telephoto lenses are often quite expensive, you can find cheaper alternatives. Buying second-hand photography gear is an excellent way to save money.
4. Try Black and White Photography
These days, most images you see will be in color. As such, one of the easiest ways to stand out is simply to do what others don’t—give black and white photography a try.
Black and white photography is a lot trickier than it seems. You still need to think strongly about lighting, and shadows will play a more important role than is often the case in color photos.
There are several styles of monochromatic photography you can try, including giving your pictures a bit of a color tint. Experiment and see what you can come up with.
5. Highlight Overtourism
Overtourism has significant consequences. It can lead to damage on well-trodden trails, which—in some cases—could take years to mend. Too many people in one place also strain resources, and in extreme cases, it can result in tensions between residents and visitors.
As a photographer, you’ve got a powerful gift for telling stories. If you can’t find any unique angles to take pictures of a location, you can consider raising awareness for the overtourism in that particular spot.
You can photograph crowds, plus the consequences of overtourism—such as overflowing trash cans. If you want to create a larger photo essay, consider visiting alternative locations on your trip and highlighting the beauty of those instead.
6. Consider Buying a Drone
When thinking about taking unique photos of frequently-visited places, you might want to consider purchasing a drone. Yes, they can be expensive—but experimenting with them is a lot of fun, and you’ll grab a perspective that few others get to.
If you choose to purchase a drone, check the laws for the area you’re going to. In some cases, you might need to obtain a special license—and you’ll probably have to adhere to specific laws for flying over airports and other locations.
Some destinations forbid drone usage. If that’s the case for where you’re going, or you simply don’t want to get one, consider booking a helicopter tour instead.
7. Wait for Different Weather Conditions
From a practical perspective, photographing when the weather is clear makes complete sense. But at the same time, pictures of this kind can get a little tedious to look at. The same is true if you go to a place where moody photos are popular, and you copy what everyone else does.
Wherever you go, think about waiting for conditions that aren’t normal for that location. If everyone else takes pictures when it’s sunny, try waiting for the rain if possible. Similarly, you can enjoy great success taking photos during the winter.
As this tip relies on nature doing its own thing, you might not get lucky. Nonetheless, it’s very much worth keeping in mind.
You Don’t Have to Take the Same Photos as Everyone Else
Seeing the same photos taken in the same spots over and over can feel uninspiring, and perhaps you fear that your travel photography will be no different. But, you can find plenty of unique perspectives if you’re willing to think outside the box and try new things.
Keeping these tips in mind, you will have a unique perspective when you visit, and you should try to capture it as well as you can.
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