When I first began writing this blog, the only camera I owned was my trusty iPhone. Some bloggers swear by their iPhone to photograph European landmarks and city scenes. But I found that some of my pictures weren’t too bad, and most were bloody awful.
Soon I upgraded, to the travel camera I adore and love! So after almost two years of experimenting, I was pretty chuffed to be invited to work with CEWE Photoworld on their new feature of the 10 Most Instagrammed Landmarks in the World.
With complete freedom to write what I wanted, I decided to share the basic guidelines that I swear by when photographing European landmarks. I hope they help you grab an original shot of the most Instagrammed landmarks too – click here to see all ten!
P.s. You might also like this post on the Top Travel Instagram Hashtags in Europe!
How To Photograph European Landmarks
1. Change your perspective
A tip I got from the photography walkshops I attended last year is to try and avoid shooting from an angle that everyone sees when they are walking down the street.
Whether this means getting up on a rooftop or, my personal favourite, shooting from the ground…
2. Visit at night
I have to throw my hands up here and admit that I still haven’t quite got the skills to produce perfect night photography every time.
But every so often I get lucky, like below at the Colosseum in Rome. And the best part about photographing landmarks at night is that there are fewer crowds and the colours (even just from streetlights) can be mesmerising.
P.s. See ‘Tips & Tricks for Photographing European Landmarks’ below for advice on shooting at night!
3. Use natural framing
I really love placing the subject of my photo (in this case a European landmark) in the centre of a natural frame.
You could use anything. Quite often I use tree leaves and bushes, and below you can see examples of where I used the main gates of the Royal Palace of Madrid and a streetlamp from across the River Thames to frame Big Ben.
4. Incorporate random events
Bumping into the Berlin Bubble Man outside the Berlin Cathedral back at the start of 2015 gave me far more interesting photos of the Cathedral than I got when I visited again this year!
After hanging around him for a good hour and taking far too many photos with my adjusted shutter speed settings, I finally got one that I love more than any photo without the bubbles…
5. Embrace the crowds
We’ve all been there. You get to that European Landmark you’ve been waiting to see for months, years even! And it’s swarmed with tourists!
Now, you could complain just like everyone else around you. Or you could embrace it, realise that everyone there is just like you, and then try your best to get a photo that will be different from theirs.
I have a photo of the Brandenburg gate without so many people in it. But with a ground-level perspective and the casual way the people are walking through, it I love how the one below shows a little slice of Berlin life. As for the Pantheon, there’s nothing special about the perspective here, but with the tiny people at the bottom of the frame you can really tell how big the damn thing is!
Bonus Tip: Take a selfie and enjoy yourself!
Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, getting the perfect unique shot of a European Landmark just seems like an unreachable goal. I visited the Sagrada Familia three times while I was in Barcelona. I tried a hundred different angles and locations. I just couldn’t get it.
I also had a terrible time in Barcelona. I didn’t like the city and the memories I made while there are some of the worst I’ve had while travelling. So as it turns out, this horrific cheesy selfie with too much grain and bad focus is one of my favourite landmark photos…
It reminds me that actually, there were some moments I enjoyed in that city, and I’m sure I’ll find plenty more if I gave Barcelona another chance…
Tips & Tricks for Photographing European Landmarks
๏ Some European landmarks have restrictions on publishing certain photos for editorial or commercial use. The best example is of the Eiffel Tower’s light show at night:
- “Imagery taken at night when the lights are aglow, and where the Eiffel tower is the main focus, is not suitable within editorial content.” – Getty Images Wiki
- For a full list of publishing restrictions click here and also here
๏ Surprisingly, photographs of train stations in the UK are restricted for commercial use. If you really want to make money off your photo of the iconic Waterloo Station, you’ll need permission from Network Rail
Do you have any great tips for taking unique photos of European Landmarks? Let us know in the comments!
Lots of love,
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