Taking photographs in a busy city
When travelling to an amazing new destination, we would all love to take beautiful photos without clutter and hordes of other tourists filling our perfectly selected compositions. But in a bustling city that can be a difficult task and frustrating when you get home to realise your amazing shot outside the Eiffel Tower was ruined by someone standing in the way. Here’s a few tips to get the best photos you can from your trip.
There will always be a break in the crowd when you’re trying to take a photo. Sometimes you just have to wait a few minutes (and maybe wait some more) to get a moment when no-one will get into your shot. This may annoy those you’re travelling with if they are having to wait for you every time, but the results will be worth it and your shot will stand out from anyone else’s.
Get up early
Beating the crowd is key to getting the exact photos you want without people walking in front or cluttering the background. This could mean getting up at the crack of dawn to get the shot which is a hard task when you’re on holiday, but the light first thing in the morning can be beautiful and will add that extra wow factor to your photos too.
Take photos at night
If you’re not an early bird then grab a tripod (There’s lots on the market that are small and lightweight for travel) and head out after dark to get shots of a city at night. It can be harder taking photos in darkness but the results can be stunning and it often seems more rewarding because of the extra effort you have to make. At this time of day there will be less people around and, when using a tripod, people will usually walk around you.
Find a different angle
Stood at a popular tourist attraction it can feel like a wrestling match between you and other tourists to get the shot you all want. People will crowd around you until you take the shot and move out the way so it can sometimes feel you’re under pressure and rushed. So why stand in the same spot as everyone else? Think of a different angle or another way of photographing a building which can get you away from the crowd and give you a much better shot. You’ll feel a lot less stressed, have more time to frame it, and may even get a more unique photo of a famous landmark.
You might be in a stunning city with plenty around you to see but sometimes what is above our heads can be even more beautiful than what is at eye-level. Just by pointing your camera upwards you can get a striking shot of a building or roof with a perfect sky behind it which can offer a different perspective.
Don’t be shy
Don’t be shy to get out a tripod and take your own photos. When travelling alone, it can get tiring asking people to take your photo, so this will make you more self-sufficient. It can be daunting at first, and you worry about other people’s stares, but you will soon get over these inhibitions.
Also don’t be afraid to ask a local person if you can take their photo. Generally, if you ask politely then most people will oblige and even pose for you. Often photographing people in their natural setting will provide some of the best photos.
I love taking my DSLR on my travels purely because of the type of shots I want to get and the quality. But at times, when I have been in a busy city, going out at night, or in the middle of a carnival parade, I have felt self-conscious carrying it around. In these moments a phone or compact camera can be a lot easier and less conspicuous, and can even give you a bit more flexibility. Some phones are just as good as DSLRs these days so don’t break your back always trying to carry a heavy camera around.
If you can’t beat them, join them
I spend a lot of time trying to take a photo of a city without too many people in the shot. But sometimes, people walking past can add value to the photo you are trying to capture, and often, the hustle and bustle is the very essence of the city. You will very rarely get New York’s Times Square without a car or person walking through, so if the crowds are there, then that’s what you need to photograph to show the city at its finest. Find the characters among the crowds to capture and find the interesting points and angles within them to show a city at its best.
Since I got my first DSLR camera almost 10 years ago, I have travelled all over the world with it. Together we have been on a 4-day trek along the Inca Trail in Peru, sat and watched the sunset at India’s Taj Mahal and been to some of the best Christmas markets across Europe.
I love to tell the story of a place and show its beauty, the fantastic people I meet and the memories I make through the photos I take.