Friday, October 30, 2009
New Perspective On Iconic Subjects
How to move beyond the "stock" shot for better photos of popular subjects
Travel photographers working in tourist destinations face a dilemma: the iconic view, skyline or structure of a place often is so well known and photographed that it’s almost impossible to come up with anything new. But you can’t ignore the icon either—people want to see an angle on Big Ben in a London story, the Eiffel Tower in Paris or the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.
Now, if you’re blessed with an unlimited budget, unbelievable luck or a boundless imagination, maybe you can be the one-in-a-million shooter to come up with something “fresh.” Personally, I’d love to hire a big cherry picker and shoot straight down on The Bean with a wide-angle lens. But the equipment rental and permit problems would make that far too expensive a proposition for me or any of my current clients. I also wouldn’t mind being the guy lucky enough to shoot The Bean during a special lighting occurrence, with a rainbow soaring over it or a spectacular sunset behind it. Or, I’d love to be gifted with a flash of inspiration or an eye so original that I could come up with something that the legions of shooters before me overlooked. Alas, barring divine intervention, that’s not in my cards either.
Following is my checklist for working an icon. Try to apply it the next time you’re facing a well-known symbol to see if you can spruce up the freshness of your photographs.
Time Of Day. Never be satisfied with shooting your icon once. Most have placement that favors morning, say, over afternoon, but even if you’ve done it once in the “right” light, go back at least twice.
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