10 Ways to Photograph Famous Sites Without the Yawn Factor

If you travel to a famous site, you want to take photos that capture the excitement you felt while there.
Forget about the typical postcard scenes you’ve seen hundreds of times on Instagram and, while beautiful, are just boring.
In this article, you’ll find new ways to share your view of these amazing places by trying these ten tips and ideas.

10 Ways to Photograph Famous Sites Without the Yawn Factor
In the smartphone era, where everyone takes millions of photos, it’s difficult to capture images of famous sites that stand out.
Here are a few ideas to make your pictures more exciting and eye-catching.
Try different angles
Credit: Willian Justen
Most tourists visit a famous site, raise their phones or cameras and take a shot. That’s the most common mistake you can make.
Instead, try different angles and perspectives. Walk around the landmark, get close to it and put the camera on the ground for a worm’ s-eye view, or climb onto something to get a higher angle.
Get as creative as possible without putting yourself in danger or breaking any rules. The point is to find different ways to look at the same thing.

Stay away from the crowds
Credit: Daria Obymaha
Nowadays, everyone has a camera – whether it’s part of their phone or something more professional. In any case, 99 out of 100 people looking at a famous landmark will be taking a picture of it.
If you photograph it close to all those people, your photo will look very similar to the ones they’re taking.
So, to get a more unique picture, you need to find a place where not many people are taking photos.
Keep in mind that this sometimes means being further away, so a telephoto lens will help.
Take close-ups
Credit: Brett Sayles
When you think of a famous site, you usually think about the whole thing. That’s why people typically make panoramas or stand further away to include the whole thing in the picture.
However, capturing close-ups can be an unusual and exciting way to capture landmarks. You can photograph details such as a window or a sculpture, but you may also try some abstract shots of textures.
Let each place inspire you in a different way.

Include a foreground element
Credit: Alex Azabache
Forming different visual planes is one of the most effective composition techniques for making your images visually interesting. This will add depth and, depending on the element, may give some context.
You can use the focus stacking technique if you want everything in focus. However, having a blurred element in the foreground, leaving the landmark sharp in the back, can also be effective.
You can also try having the focus on the foreground and leaving the landmark blurred in the background so it has a more subtle presence. For example, photograph a Vespa – a classic Italian motor-scooter – with the Colosseum in the background slightly blurry.
Photograph people, not tourists
Credit: Tommy Mila
When I say you should include people in the photo, I’m not referring to the typical tourist shot with the person standing next to or in front of the landmark.
I’m also not talking about the crowds you’ll find at any famous site. Instead, I mean using people as a composition element or making them the main subject, but in a creative way.

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Think about where you need the person to be to create an interesting composition or give a sense of scale.
Also think about the wardrobe’s color – consider a complementary color or something bright that stands out.
Try long exposures
Credit: Stas Knop
Long exposures are a great way to create unique landmark photos. For long-exposure photography, you’ll need a tripod or a way to keep the camera stable.
Then, set a slow shutter speed. The exact amount of time will depend on the effect you want and how fast things are moving in the scene.
You can capture smooth, flowing elements like waterfalls, waves, or clouds, trail lights from cars, or even people walking by.
Remember to close the aperture and lower the ISO to avoid overexposure.
If you’re shooting during the day, you might need a neutral-density filter.


Double exposure is a technique where you take two pictures in the same frame. You can also shoot more than two, and it’s called multiple exposure.
You can do this with a film camera, where it originated. However, many digital cameras have this feature, which makes them extremely easy to use.
Alternatively, you can blend the images in post-production, creating a double-exposure effect in Photoshop or any software that allows you to work with layers.
Some phone apps, such as Snapseed, also have this effect.

Drone photography
Credit: Bhargava Marripati
Aerial photography offers a new perspective on famous sites because it’s not so easily available. Thankfully, drone technology has made great advancements, and now it’s possible for more people to capture amazing shots.
It’s not possible to fly drones everywhere, though. Make sure you get acquainted with local and federal laws to avoid any trouble.
If you need a permit and you have the necessary requirements, I advise you to do it.
Not many people bother with all the bureaucratic paperwork and just let it go, which means that your photographs will be even rarer, making it well worth the trouble.

Use reflections
Credit: Kendall Hoopes
Reflections are a great way to take landmark photographs with a twist. Many famous sites are close to a body of water, which makes reflections easy to obtain.
However, you can also find reflections on other surfaces, such as windows, puddles, side-view mirrors on parked cars, etc. You can also create a reflection with the screen of your phone.
This is an entertaining and original way to capture landmarks.
Black and white
Credit: Mathew Browne
It may sound cliché, but black-and-white pictures make you see the world with new eyes. Most of us see the world in color, so a black-and-white photograph seems special.
Also, by removing the distraction of color, you’re free to focus on details you probably wouldn’t have noticed otherwise.
Lastly, black and white has a nostalgic feeling and a classic elegance that will make your pictures all the more special.

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