Approaching any landmark or tourism location has the difficulty of finding new and unique ways to photograph it. While it may be that even a ‘creative’ approach has been done by someone at some point, you don’t necessarily want to have your images look like every other photo you have seen of that landmark.
This is the situation I was in when I visited the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. To compound this issue, I visited the Arch while I was passing through, moving to Kentucky, which limited my choice of time-of-day, and I also had limited gear available at the time which further limited my options. This visit taught me a lot about approaching landmarks and tourism spots:
1. Isolate or Integrate the landmark.
Each landmark will be different, but in this case, I found that isolating the landmark from anything around it really created a unique photo. By shooting from directly underneath into the slightly cloudy sky created a wonderful contrast between nature and the Arch. In other settings, finding angles that bury the landmark in the midst of ‘everyday life’ can create a great photo.
2. Look for details and unique attributes.
Part of capturing a scene is finding the details and character that make it unique. I learned to get up close to the item, and really look for textures, shapes, colors, or any other thing that is unique. In this case, I found that the shape of the base as it moved upward provided a very unique shape,
3. Remember to take the typical shots.
In the process of capturing great images that spark your creative side, don’t forget to capture the stereotypical photos of that site. You will want these not only for the family and friends back home who want to be able to see that site, but also for yourself as you think back about the trip.
Approaching a well-shot scene doesn’t mean you have to take away a group of postcard shots, but it takes time, a little creativity, and sometimes a little finesse with composition. Don’t forget to get those postcard shots though!