At one point or another you will come upon a location that has been photographed a thousand plus times. In the variety of photographs on the internet you’ll come across photos taken by professionals as well as amateurs, hobbyists and tourists. When I think of an overexposed locations the first place that comes to my mind is the Taj Mahal located in Agra, Indian. I have never been there but from what I have read and seen in photographs, the Taj Mahal is a beautiful picturesque building with a grand garden plaza in front of the entryway. The reflection pond and walkways in the plaza garden create stunning leading lines to the grand Mughal architecture of the building. However, the surrounding area is nowhere near as beautiful as the features of the Tomb. So the vast majority of the images found are all from the same vantage point as well as around the same time of day, so after viewing about ten or so images the scene becomes blah. As a professional or budding photographer you should always try to focus your views of the world differently than everyone else, that is what makes our line of work so interesting and compelling. I love the challenge of finding and exhibiting an extraordinary feature about my subject I’m photographing.
If at all possible, when you are planning your trip to an overexposed popular location, try to schedule your trip so that you have time to not only enjoy the site as a tourist but also have time to work with the features, weather conditions, lighting, and other admirers at the site. Take time to research the location for possible shots before you ever book your trip and leave home. Some locations have a lot of tourists, there are peak seasons for the vegetation as well as the tourist population.
Here are a few tips to think about before and during your trip.
- Look at images created by other photographers on the internet. Do not copy another person’s work but look for a detail that you would like to emphasis in your photograph when you arrive on scene.
- Think about what you love about a particular feature and come up with a rough idea of what you would like the end results to look like in your photograph. (then go out and practice your camera setting for that type of lighting).
- Check the weather (this includes temperature), you may not want to schedule a trip to the hottest part of the world during peak heat wave season (unless you want to lose 20 pounds in a day). When your body temperature has to adapt quickly to another area you will tire quicker than normal; you will become more irritable and your focus will be more on your comfort level than creating beautiful unique photographs.
- Make sure you pack gear that will hold up to the weather conditions. Again, you will lose valuable time, effort, and focus trying to protect yourself and your camera gear without the proper protective gear.
Try to hit common sites at off traditional hours, meaning if there are 6 scheduled tours to a location try to be in the first group out or the last. This will give you the ability to capture the site in lighting conditions most people hardly see. Check out this landscape photograph of the Taj Mahal at sunset, photographed from the east plaza. This photograph not only uses an non-traditional vantage point it also uses the “Golden Hour” lighting. Both features used create a stunning landscape photograph and helps enhance the beauty of the Taj Mahal in a unique manner.
- When dealing with people and if you are efficient with Photoshop take multiple shots with all of the same camera setting (with the camera on a tripod) and merge them together later in post-production. The best thing about tourists being on site is they do not stand in one spot too long. The multiple shots with give you a variety of photographs with clear landscapes and other features, allowing you the ability to mask over the people. Just don’t change any of your settings or focal lengths.
Patience is key in all aspect and types of photography not just travel and landscape photography. The only difference is photographs in your local area can always be re-shot at an affordable rate. So if you would like to come home with beautiful, unique photographs of your next trip that will WOW your audience, I recommend doing your due diligent first by studying, practicing, and organizing.