It can be a challenge to get the perfect picture when other tourists are looking to do the same. Just when you thought you were getting off the beaten path, you discover that your destination is actually a tourist hot spot. So, what's a globetrotter to do? Here are our best tips for how to take a great picture at a crowded tourist spot.
Change Your Angle
Instead of shooting something head-on, move to a side area to see if you can get a clearer shot. Another trick photographers use is to duck down and take a low-angle shot. This is when you crouch down and take the picture while looking upwards. Sure, you may have to do some cropping when you get home. However, by switching up the angle, you'll be able to avoid other tourists and snap a unique image to post on your Instagram page.
Play the Waiting Game
Sometimes, changing the angle won't solve the problem. So, should you wait hours for the crowd to subside or just accept that you won't be able to get your ideal photo? If you have the time, waiting just five or ten minutes may be long enough for the crowd to clear out so you can get that amazing shot. This is especially true if you're with a tour group. Eventually, the crowd will thin out, as it moves on to see the next attraction.
Plan Your Visit Around Peak Times
The best defense is a good offense in sports and in travel photography. Follow our advice for rookie travelers and avoid going along with the crowd. Now, that doesn't mean you should avoid visiting popular tourist attractions.
The key is to identify the peak times for the places you want to photograph and then avoid them during such periods. If vacationers like to tour a particular area during the afternoon, head out at dawn or sunset. Along with avoiding crowds, you may also uncover some amazing shots you wouldn't have gotten otherwise.
Seeing a tourist spot in a different light can make a world of difference, especially if you're trying to reap commercial benefits from your photography. If nothing else, you'll likely impress with your resourcefulness.
Focus on Your Subject
If you're like most tourists, you probably want a picture of your family in front of the Eiffel Tower with nobody else in the background. While that's an understandable desire, getting such a picture may prove to be a logistical challenge.
You have to decide what your most important subject is. Is it your family or is it the Eiffel Tower? Knowing which you want to focus on will help you snap a unique and interesting picture.
For example, you can take a candid shot, where your family isn't looking at the camera but the Eiffel Tower is framed just right in the background. Alternatively, you can take a great shot of your family with the Eiffel Tower in the distance. Often, the secret to getting a treasured image is by leveraging selective emphasis through shallow depth of field photography.
Zoom in on Details
Sometimes, it can be impossible to avoid crowds, especially during a local festival or religious celebration. In these cases, zoom in to get detailed images instead of trying to get pictures of the whole area. At ancient ruins, use your zoom lens to capture the intricate details on unique architectural structures and stone sculptures. You'll walk away with some special images along with a deeper understanding of the place you're visiting.
In all, many people tend to focus only on the big picture. Diving deeper into the unique and intricate facets of a tourist destination can give you a better appreciation of its culture, not to mention, more interesting pictures to include in your photo album.
Include People in Your Pictures
Sometimes, including people in the background may actually enhance the value of your images. Decide what story you're going to tell with your photo, and include the right people in it. Perhaps you'd like to highlight the popularity of a particular location. If so, take a deliberate snap shot of a crowded cafe, noodle restaurant, or museum gift shop. Then, when you're thumbing through your album with friends, tell the story of the male tourist you saw wolfing down a big plate of chicken feet.
If you visit your chosen location more than once, be sure to take pictures each time you go. That way, you'll be able to show how it's full of tourists one season and completely empty during another. Get creative and have fun with the stories you tell through your pictures.
Cheat With Photoshop
Every tourist knows that it's a challenge to avoid other tourists altogether. That said, should you Photoshop everyone out of your pictures? If you're aiming for an authentic image, you may reconsider this option. However, there's another solution if you're capturing a nature scene and just don't want to include human faces in it. For that majestic sunset scene, utilize Photoshop to create what is called an image stack.
This is when you set your camera to take 20 to 30 images from a fixed viewpoint. A special Photoshop CS script will then collate identical areas and remove changing elements (such as tourists moving from one location to the next). You can align all your images in a stack to produce a composite view that eliminates distractions. That's one way you can come up with an image that's free of tourist faces.
Always be Looking for That Perfect Shot
Planning is always key to getting an Instagram–worthy image. However, that's only part of the equation when it comes to capturing that perfect moment. Sometimes, no matter how well you plan, good pictures happen by accident.
Be prepared for anything. Take pictures during or after a rain shower; you can also choose to venture out at different times of the day. Whatever you do, avoid shooting with the harsh light of the sun behind you. You may be disappointed with the results. Finally, make sure you have all of your equipment and several lenses at hand so you can capture the truly unique and magical moments of your trip.