How to Capture Truly Unique Images of Popular Locations

Throughout the world, there are some classic shots that every photographer is just dying to add to their portfolio. When you think of some of the most stunning travel photography, you probably think of images of the Golden Gate Bridge, the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben, the Great Pyramids, or the Coliseum, for example.

However, getting good shots of these landmarks is a challenge more easily said than done! Even more challenging is capturing unique photos of these locations. Since they’ve been photographed so much, one might wonder just how many compositions are left for the taking!

The next time you have the privilege to shoot one of these popular locations yourself, try some of the tips below to capture one-of-a-kind images you can be proud of.

1. Get creative with angles

Get creative with angles

Changing your perspective is one of my go-to methods for mixing up my shots. Try shooting upwards, for starters. Then, circle around the structure you’re photographing to discover new angles where you can view the landmark from a less commonly photographed location – the side or the back, perhaps.

This also offers you an opportunity to find locations where the viewing is less chaotic, giving you more flexibility and time to set up the perfect shot rather than dealing with the hustle and bustle of large crowds.

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2. Experiment with unusual lenses

Experiment with unusual lenses

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It’s easy to simply choose the “best” lens for a shoot and then forget about the option of switching out to other glass. If you’re shooting a famous landscape, for instance, you probably default to a wide-angle lens. You don’t think about how different lenses that are more unusual for the situation might benefit the resulting photographs.

Try a zoom lens to switch things up and focus on details that many other photographers shooting with a more standard or “appropriate” lens might miss. You’d be surprised at how many gorgeous details of famous landmarks are glossed over in favor of achieving the full picture.

3. Introduce a prop into the shot

Introduce a prop into the shot

Whether a physical prop or another subject (perhaps a local, or even your four-legged hiking companion), photographers have the opportunity to introduce new objects of interest into their photographs.

These props can tell a story not otherwise possible by taking more classic shots, and they provide photographers an opportunity to use their unique voice when developing new compositions and experimenting with their props and subjects.

4. Explore more out-of-the-way locations

Explore more out-of-the-way locations

Cities that house famous landmarks know exactly how to maximize tourists’ interests. This is why trails, pathways, and overlooks with great views are often so crowded.

While you might be able to get some good shots from these places if you are willing to make tourists a part of your shot for a more candid tone, it’s probably best to get off the beaten path a bit.

If at all possible, explore other surrounding areas to achieve an equally good view. This might mean that you have to hike farther or explore some lesser-known streets, but that’s what makes travel fun!

Plus, these unique viewpoints may offer you a perspective you’ve not seen before, which could be inspiring for creating compositions not seen elsewhere.

5. Shoot at night

Shoot at night

Change things up by getting some shots at nighttime. This might also make it easier for you to set up in the perfect place when there are fewer tourists swarming the best spots.
Better yet, aim for that “magic period” just after sunset or before sunrise, when the sun’s regressing light offers a hint of illumination in an otherwise dark sky.

Remember to experiment with exposures for shots like these, too. Of course, you’ll need longer exposure times for your camera’s sensor to make sense of the low-light surroundings. Still, you’d be amazed at how even longer exposure times can transform average-looking lights into stunning beams of illumination that bring life and character to the landmark you’re shooting.

6. Get some help from a drone

Get some help from a drone

A birds’ eye view makes for a unique angle unlike any other. Because many photographers aren’t proficient in the ability to shoot with drones, taking this extra step to photograph remotely from above is one of the best ways to achieve successful photographs unlike any others. 

However, be warned you that flying drones is illegal in certain areas, and no perfect shot is worth breaking the law or endangering the integrity of a historical landmark.

Before launching a drone, investigate local laws to determine if this method is something you can have at your disposal. If necessary, contact local authorities to clear up questions you may have about particular restrictions and regulations. 

In conclusion, remember that you might naturally be tempted to capture a few shots of these landmarks straight-on – they’re classic photos to add to your collection, after all! There’s absolutely nothing wrong with taking some “normal” and straightforward shots before jumping into more creative and experimental compositions.

Actually, I’d probably argue that it’s good to get these classic shots out of the way so that you feel more freedom to move onto more creative avenues without missing a thing.

Looking for creative ideas to take your photography to the next level? Dramatically improve your creative output with the fun and challenging assignments from the Creativity Catalog!

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