Gallery: Please visit the gallery to view images in full size. From the gallery, you will be able to add the images to the shopping cart and checkout. YouTube: I have a YouTube Channel (Hari PHL) where I post videos once a week. Please subscribe to my channel and share my videos. I appreciate your support. Thank you for visiting my site.
Travel photography is an extremely popular genre that includes everyone from highly acclaimed professionals to the average tourist snapping a few shots on holiday. However, as a result of its popularity it’s a field that is unfortunately bursting with clichés!
We’ve all seen thousands of photos which are cliched and unimpressive, even if they are technically very proficient. The photographer may well have got the right aperture, ISO and shutter speed settings but because it relies on tired and repetitive tropes it lacks the impact needed to make a splash.
It’s all too easy to fall into the trap of taking cliché travel photos which look bland or unprofessional. Avoiding the clichés in travel photography will help your work to stand out from the competition and keep your audience more engaged.
Don’t Take Selfies In Front Of Monuments.
It only takes a few moments of scrolling through most people’s travel photos to realize that one of the most cliched types of photos of all is the selfie shot in front of a famous monument or landscape!
This might be fun, and a good way to remember a moment but it really doesn’t cut it as good quality travel photography. You would be much better off focusing on the landscape or the monument itself, trying to frame it in an interesting way and pick out its special features or details.
Suggest The Location.
One of the most subtle ways of taking travel photos is to suggest the location rather than clearly picture it. There are many ways that you can do this although it will take a little imagination to get it right. By isolating details of the location or monument you can imply the place instead of simply showing it in a straightforward, or cliched, manner.
If you were in Paris, for example, and planning on shooting some pictures of the Eiffel Tower, instead of taking the usual photo of the whole structure – something you’ve seen a million times before – why not pick out some iconic details of it instead. You could pick out a part of the lower base of the Eiffel Tower and do it in such a way that people will recognize it nonetheless!
This is a good way to avoid taking yet another cliched picture of the Eiffel Tower which will make your audience think and draw them into the image more than a standard shot of the whole structure.
Avoid The Crowds.
When you’re scouting locations for your travel photography don’t just follow the crowds of other photographers and tourists. Of course, you can still visit the famous sites but don’t restrict yourself to that and instead, get off the beaten track and look for more unusual or unique subjects.
In many cases you don’t even have to go far to find better photos than the rest of the photographers. If you were visiting the Vatican in Rome, then you can literally walk around the corner from the main St. Peter’s Square and you might be amazed to see how few photographers and tourists are just a stone’s throw away!
Always try to find your own spots to shoot famous locations to avoid the dangers of producing cliched repeats of what everyone else is doing.
Try To Think Outside The Box.
Work with different angles and perspectives when you’re shooting a famous building to capture a unique shot. Think outside the box when you’re shooting your travel photos. Try different angles and perspectives; so test the photo from a low angle looking up or maybe, if you can get to a vantage point, from above. This will add more interest to the photos and keep your shots fresh and vibrant.
Include The Locals.
Another way that you can add interest to your travel photos is to incorporate locals in the scene. The people who live in the locations we love to visit are as much what gives it a sense of place as the buildings and monuments themselves.
Pick out and focus on the details of their clothes, jewelry and other things which make them and their culture unique. You can photograph people in markets, shops, in farm fields and elsewhere as they go about their daily life.
Of course, before you start taking photos of people it’s always advisable to ask their permission first so you don’t accidentally offend people or make them feel uncomfortable. Most locals will be happy for you to take their picture so don’t hesitate about approaching them.
Stop Making The Landmark The Subject!
This might sound counterintuitive however it’s a highly effective and easy method of adding vitality and depth to your work. For instance, if you want to shoot the Eiffel tower you can incorporate a subject in the foreground with the tower behind them, almost as an afterthought! Lamp posts, trees, a local street vendor or street musician can all give the scene a powerful sense of place.
Now you don’t want to overuse this technique but do keep it in mind when you’re looking for ways to spice up your travel pictures. You can also look for unusual elements in the landscape to frame your photos. A photo taken through an open window, doorway or the branches of a tree will add an exciting depth to your work and help you to avoid those cliched shots you see in most postcards.
Experiment With The Light.
The Golden Hour is the traditional time to take a great deal of travel shots but you can be far more creative and use the lighting at midday or shortly after sunset. In the hour following sunset there is still a small amount of light in the sky but the city lights will have come on and can create some very interesting results. This hour is known as the ‘Blue Hour’ and is a good time to take some unique photos.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that you can’t shoot during the Golden Hour when the light is warm and mellow, but it does mean that you shouldn’t become trapped by it! Try using the city’s lights at night to give your photos of monuments and landmarks a new twist; or the reflections off windows, puddles and wet streets.
Try To Use Your Usual Style.
When you’re taking travel pictures it’s a good idea to keep using your regular style instead of trying to imitate the standard look. So, if, for example, you usually take photos that are moody with strong contrasts then keep doing this, even while you’re in a new setting. The skills you have already mastered will serve you better and create more consistency in your work.
Don’t Copy The Travel Photo Trends.
We’ve all seen those ‘humorous’ photos of people pretending to hold up the Leaning Tower of Pisa or pretending to be holding a large monument in their hand by using clever perspectives; but although these might have been funny the first time after several million repeats the joke is wearing thin!
You can still have fun when you’re on holiday and take photos like the ones that are trending but don’t expect them to be taken very seriously as photography because they are too cliched!
Use Bokeh And Other Unusual Techniques.
When you’re shooting landmarks and monuments you can use the aperture to create a lovely blurry background. This will make the subject really stand out from the background and if there are lights behind it these can create a beautiful bokeh effect.
It’s pretty unusual to see travel pictures that use focused and unfocused points of interest in the frame to add variation and contrast to the photos. So definitely keep it in your arsenal of tricks to help your work to stand out.
Travel To Unusual Locations.
One of the problems for travel photographers is that so many people are visiting the same places every year! It’s inevitable that when tens of millions of people are visiting the Eiffel Tower each year and taking photos the outcome is going to get pretty dull pretty fast!
So, instead of visiting the standard locations why not travel to the more far flung and unexpected corners of the world? Not only will you have a more exciting travel experience but your photos will also inevitably stand out from the crowd.
The Best Travel Photography Is Inventive And Unique.
One of the worst things a photographer can do is fall into the trap of producing an endless series of cliched, boring and standard images that could be mistaken for the work of anyone else.
Avoiding clichés in photography is as much about expressing your own style and vision of the world as simply doing something different; so no matter what you’re shooting, keep your work fresh by experimenting and constantly trying out new and unexpected things in your own unique way.