It is not easy to be a tourist. Visiting popular places has the obvious disadvantage that they are already photographed from every possible angle at every possible time of the year.
So what can a photographer do who is short on time and cannot afford the luxury of deeply explore his travel location?
In other words should one leave the camera at home when going to a family afternoon visiting a hipped touristic site? Some would say yes. Just enjoy the time with the family and do not break the flow with those annoying stops to stare through the viewfinder. There is no way to take new, refreshing original photos anymore. There is even a camera called Camera Restricta which checks online how many publicly available photographs have been made on a certain GPS location.
If the count exceeds a limit, the camera denies taking any more pictures. While this camera offers a really extreme solution to the issue, it certainly raises the awareness that we should approach spectacles with care. After all, no one wants to create the 10 000th identical photos about that waterfall.
In my opinion, it is absolutely possible to take outstanding photos at locations which are considered completely exhausted as photographic resources. It is challenging indeed, but challenges are there to accept and conquer them.
This is what I have tried to do lately. I was sent on a business trip to Dublin and of course, I tried to get the most out of it. Due to the packed by work nature of my travel, I had not much time for exploring, but I had a weekend and a few afternoons to work with. So I teamed up with my college and friend and picked some quite touristic places to visit. So we went to Glendalough, an extraordinary place with a beautiful mixture of nature and early medieval architecture. We had a great time and we were truly amazed by the wonders of this place, but as expected there is quite highly developed tourism involved here.
I was terrified when I realized that people were taking literally thousands of pictures just under that few hours we spent there.
But after the initial hesitation, I have started to shoot and tried to make up a set of rules I applied to make a difference.
Think with a head of a tourist
I tried to picture what is the easiest shoot one could get. This is what most people are up to. It is also a good idea to step back a little and watch what locations others choose. After I have mapped the patterns, I have picked a little bit different, harder to reach so to speak less trivial spot and angle. Many times just a few meters what you need for a significantly better shoot.
Use something special
According to a popular saying, your camera does not really matter. I agree on that a talented photographer can take stunning images with just about anything. On the other hand, a bad photograph is not any better just because it was taken with some exotic gear.
But the reality is not that all black and white. In the age of mass-produced digital cameras, smartphones and even smartphone cameras, a good old film camera can really shine out.
This is not the primary reason, why I shoot film, but it is great fun to see how much people are surprised because of the image quality and (I hope) cinematic look of my pictures.
Focus on the details
The world is full of neat little details. Many see only the big picture. Want to squeeze somehow the Eiffel Tower into the frame. But sometimes details are just more interesting. Better still often there is no indication whatsoever about their origin. Therefore it is always a good idea to have a camera in the bag no matter how touristy is the place to be visited. There is always the chance for a nice rusty road sign lurking at the next corner.
I have to admit that this photo with the fern was not taken at Glendalough but in Galway. However, this is my favorite detail photo from this roll.
People make things interesting
All humans are addicted to the look of other humans. Why not exploit this property of the mind and compose someone into the frame. It does not work at all times, but chances are that a handful of these photos will be the best ones. At least this is the case many times with me.
I am really bad at photographing people without their acknowledgment. I am not just bad at it, but also I prefer not to do it. That is why I asked these girls for this picture.
This is my quick guide for myself. I hope some of you will find it interesting. If you have something to add, or just like to comment, I would be happy to read your opinion.