Finding Unique Ways to Photograph Common Things
The world is pretty well explored – wherever you are, somebody’s already been there. And whatever you’re taking pictures of, well, somebody’s already taken pictures of the exact same thing. So how do you find originality in travel photos? Create it. Just because you aren’t photographing anything new doesn’t mean you can’t do it in an interesting and unique way. Here are some techniques:
Find a new angle.
Stop bringing the camera up to your eye and instead place the camera in an unusual spot. Try the ground or up on a ledge.
Find beautiful light.
Sunrise, sunset, and the “blue hour” (the hour after sunset) are the most reliably good times to shoot. As in the shot above, sometimes things work at midday too.
Add a sense of motion.
Use a longer shutter speed to capture movement. The long exposure in this photo emphasizes the motion on the streets of New Delhi, India.
Isolate the details.
You don’t always need a sweeping landscape or bustling street scene. Getting down to the basics can say a lot more about your location than trying to fit “it all” in one single image.
Experiment with focus and depth of field.
Try focusing on unusual things, and use an open (low) aperture to isolate your subject against the background. This photo would not have the same impact if everything was in focus.
Look for water.
Water creates reflections, and reflections add interest. For the photo above, I placed the camera in a shallow puddle.
This scene presented itself behind me as I was walking up the beach in Sri Lanka; I never would have seen it if I hadn’t turned around. Try not to continually look straight ahead as you walk through a new place. Instead, look up, down and even behind you for new photo opportunities.
Find a high vantage point.
Try to get onto a roof or up on a hill. This is where photography and exploration compliment each other most, as your quest for the “perfect” photo drives you to explore much more than you otherwise would.
And the number one tip? Don’t baby your camera!
Relax! Point and shoots, DSLRs, even cell phone cameras – they’re well constructed and can take the abuse, trust me. I’ve dropped my expensive DSLR on rocks and watched with horror as it tumbled down a steep hill in Jokusarlon, Iceland… with no lens cap on. I’ve fallen on my camera in wet snow in Siberia. I’ve squeezed my lenses into a tiny backpack and carted them around the world. I’ve gone out shooting in rain, snow, dust, heat, severe cold, etc. All my equipment works great… a bit scratched up on the outside perhaps, but the photos are as good as they were on day one.
The unique angle in the shot above wouldn’t have been possible if I was overprotective of my camera. I handed my DSLR to a young and curious boy on a train in India. He had no concept of protecting the lens or otherwise taking care of the camera… but he snapped a few shots and came up with a photo I never would have been able to get! The expressions are priceless!
Photography helps me enjoy traveling on a whole new level. Always searching for the perfect photo helps me REALLY see the places I visit.