The Challenge of Photographing Classic Sites

Classic or iconic sites. There’s a multitude of these all around the world. They are so popular that they are visited by millions of people every year. As a result, there are also millions of images of each of them.


As photographers, our challenge is how to give our photographs of these sites a personal stamp to make them ‘ours’. This should actually be an enjoyable challenge which will make our visits very personal and, hopefully, productive.

Here are a series of suggestions as thought starters. These are by no means intended to be definitive; they’re just some of my takes while trying to capture my views.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa

leaning tower


Other interpretations:

tower of pisa

Alternative Angle

tower of pisa cropped

Zoom In

Approach everything with a completely open mind. Try to forget what other people have done.

The Joan of Arc statue in Paris

joan of arc statue


statue photography


Remember that it is fine to lie on the ground to get your shot. Changing your stance is a great way to add creativity.

The Eiffel Tower

tourist photo


Other options:

under eiffel tower

New Perspective

tower from below

From Below

The London Eye

london eye snapshot


Options always include coming back at a different time of day.

London Eye

Another time of day

In this case, you can also cross the river. Don’t be afraid to walk to really change your perspective.

london eye at night


Zoom lenses are great but they don’t replace your legs!

london eye perspective change

Different perspective

Another iconic site in London is, of course, the clock tower housing Big Ben.

big ben close up

Big Ben

Moving across the water we get to the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.

lincoln memorial


It’s an impressive, much-photographed memorial, but we do need to add just something.

lincoln memorial point of interest

Adding interest

When dealing with tall buildings in a confined space, such as the Empire State building, the best option is often straight up.

empire state building straight up

Empire State Building

Another solution is to try to use a reflection to solve the problem. It’s all about trying to be a bit creative and think outside the box, as they say.

The Bridge of Sighs in Venice is also an obvious classic, as it’s beautiful.



But it’s worth including an image of the view from inside the prison—an inmate’s view, as it were.

view out window

Inmate’s view

This was really a bunch of thought-starters, which hopefully will enthuse you to try to be a bit different in your travel photography. It’s all about your images and what you do to make them as interesting as possible. The really important part is to enjoy it and have fun while you do it!

About the Author:
Roger Lee is a Johannesburg based photographer who runs a one day course based on “we don’t want to drown in detail, we just want to know how to use our cameras and enjoy ourselves!” He also does an ebook version of his course.

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