Friday, October 30, 2009
New Perspective On Iconic Subjects
How to move beyond the "stock" shot for better photos of popular subjects
I took along my 10.5mm fisheye to Chicago and used it extensively right up next to and even inside The Bean. The fisheye’s unique curvature created a lot of interesting perspectives, and the shot looking straight up inside created a multifaceted look with a variety of planes that made it look like a shot from a psychedelic ’60s movie.
But a few years ago, I shot a city story on Toronto for National Geographic Traveler. Of course, that city’s icon is the very tall, and hence ubiquitous, CN Tower. At first, it started showing up by accident in the backgrounds of street scenes, park scenics and café shots, and it would immediately place the shot in Toronto. After a while, I made a little game of seeing how many ways I could work that distinctive tower silhouette into the background of more generic shopping and street-scene shots to give it the Toronto treatment.
Another clever approach is to shoot displays of souvenirs, usually miniature versions, of the icon. I’ve seen very clever shots of stacks of the Arc de Triomphe on souvenir tables on the Champs Élysées with the real structure in the background. Then there’s the classic shot of a cute little tourist child wearing a big Nerf version of the crown of the Statue of Liberty, emulating the famous stance in front of the real deal. Or somebody holding a postcard of a famous skyline view in front of the camera with the actual view in the background—you get the picture.
Using this humorous approach, or any of these other tips, can save your icon shot from the purgatory of being a total cliché. So the next time you face one of these icons, give it the 360-degree shoe-leather treatment, and who knows, in the midst of all your hard work, you may just uncover an original masterpiece!
For a schedule of Bob Krist’s workshops and seminars, check his website, www.bobkrist.com, under the “Teach and Talk” heading.
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