Before we get into this photography tip, let me start by saying that I still take the photos that below, I will advise you not to take. This is because my wife still wants the straight-on shot of the famous thing(s) but I don’t linger in that mass of humanity for too long. Instead, I take the photo that’ll make her happy and I get away. Once I do, I start take better, more interesting photos immediately. You can too, here’s how to take more interesting photos starting right now:
When you see a crowd of people, tourists usually, all huddled around something or someone — the Eiffel Tower, Trevi Fountain, a celebrity — whatever or whoever they are clamoring around with their phones up and cameras out, you need to go, run if you must, in the opposite direction, both physically and mentally.
In short, DO NOT TAKE THE SAME PHOTOS AS EVERYONE ELSE.
All those people with smartphones and their point and shoots are well-meaning individuals, and I’m sure they are lovely people trying to enjoy a lovely holiday. They want what we all want, really, to snap an image they can share with friends and family on social media and maybe scrapbook later on, but these people are not photographers. You are a photographer (even if you don’t think you are, you are). You don’t want to simply document a sight, you want something more than that, you want to take, make and then share a unique memory. You want to frame a scene, to push that scene through your one of a kind mind, and make a photograph that will impress your friends in the moment and at any time in the future instantly transport you back to the smell, feel, taste and emotion of that very specific time and place. Such is the power of still photography.
Photography Tip: How To Take More Interesting Photos Starting Right Now
When you see a crowd snapping away, go ahead and take one alongside them and then pivot quickly away to the fringes of that scene. Look around, and MOVE YOUR BODY AROUND, to find a new angle that will put something else in the frame with the iconic thing that everyone is photographing, to give it context, to contrast the color, to make it your own!
This can be the edge of a cool looking building, a cloud, the moon or a beam of sun cutting through a piece of the structure, a lollipop (or something) you hold up in front of the famous thing being photographed, or anything else to add color to the picture you are creating.
Also, get in front of the crowd and take a photograph of them taking a photograph of the famous thing, try to capture the reflection of the thing in their lenses and/or sunglasses. Stand behind someone using their big beautiful smartphone and capture the famous thing or person on their screen crisply with the actual thing in the depth of field in the distance. That will be awesome and get you tons of likes on Instagram, I promise.
Moving your feet and your line of sight, and actively seeking out your own unique vision while photographing in a crowd is how to take more interesting photos starting right now.
Here are a some examples of how to take more interesting photographs immediately:
The famous orange ochre in Roussillon, France is stunning but it’s a difficult picture to take because EVERYTHING IS ORANGE. There’s little depth or context for the color, as beautiful as it is. I made that context and give the ochre contrast on my own by having my oldest daughter stand alone atop a mound of the orange rock. Luckily for me she was wearing extremely colorful (but not orange!) socks and sneakers. The result, I think, is a pretty interesting photograph of the Roussillon ochre, a photograph no one else will have on their memory cards or on their social media accounts!
Ahhh, the much photographed Parthenon in Athens, Greece. The challenges here are fellow tourists in the shot, construction equipment in and around the structure, and the scope of the building itself — it can be hard to capture and translate in a single frame. I moved around the Parthenon to find something special and inched my way, literally shuffling my feet in tiny measure, in this corner of it to get the late evening sunlight bursting through the pillars AND with as little of the construction as possible.
This place is superb, Bodiam Castle in southern England, and very easy to photograph with the moat surrounding the castle walls on all sides but after you take the ‘hero’ image, move around to capture, as I did, wildflowers growing, the greenery of trees encroaching in the frame as the blurred out but still obvious castle lurks in the background.
Finally, Trevi Fountain in Rome. I loath this spot because it is so damn crowded, so touristy, so…ugh. My wife went down into the sea of humanity to take a picture of the fountains while the girls and I went to get gelato. And then I turned around and saw this view, that of all the tourists with their cameras out taking the exact same photo as each other. You can’t see the fountain here but the water is rippling nicely and the crowd tells the Trevi Fountain story all on their own, the story as I will remember it: a crowded, too busy, too touristy place in an ancient city.
I hope these tips help you to start taking more interesting photographs! Come back for more photography tips and tricks soon!