Photographers near Roman Colosseum

Alternative Ways To Photograph Iconic Landmarks

The sheer volume of iconic imagery is boundless. Although enticing to point your camera and begin clicking away at the first landmark you see, below are some quick tips that will help set you apart from the crowd.

Use Foreground to Your Advantage

Landscape vistas are awe inspiring and finding a vantage point that grants you an uninterrupted panoramic can yield spectacular photographic opportunities. Creating a unique image that differs from the thousands of others who have shared your same view are sometimes right in front of you. Try adding something simple to the foreground of the scene to enhance interest and provide context. Push yourself to build layers of information that will depict a story of space and time and not just a simple shot of a “good view”. Don’t be afraid of something “getting in the way” of the view – it might be a blessing for your narrative.

Woman Looking Out at Florence Vista

Florence Cathedral from Michelangelo Square by Ross and Helen

View of Marrakech through the Rails

Marrakesh, Morocco by Janno Heins

Find Symmetry

Composing a picture that abstracts a scene is a clever way to shoot more commonly photographed landmarks. Finding patterns or symmetry can give energy and visual organization to the scene as well as directs viewers around the frame. While the Rule of Thirds is great, sometimes perfect symmetry stands out more.

Looking up for a unique perspective Lincoln memorial ceiling

Lincoln Memorial ceiling by Rick Sause

Cinque Terre Symmetrical Balcony

Cinque Terre scene by Lorenza Marzocchi

Make It Personal

When visiting iconic places, whether they be natural wonders, national landmarks, or even small town trips, it’s important to remember the experience is unique to you. Try incorporating aspects of your personal experience to help encapsulate what was happening at that very moment in time and how you were feeling to later reflect upon and inspire others who may have shared that same feeling.

Relfection of the Roman Colosseum in tourist's eyeglasses

Roman Colosseum reflection by Anna Schlosser

Man with a drink in Jordan near fire

Wadi Rum desert in Jordan by Winston Springwater

Find A Unique Vantage Point

There are some things out there that are undeniably beautiful and despite how many times they have been photographed you just can’t resist to try your hand at it. By finding a unique vantage point that is lesser known, or perhaps needs a particular piece of gear to accomplish, you can increase the potential to capture a unique image of something that has been photographed countless times before. Wow your friends, family, and followers by taking the unbeaten path and unveiling a side of your favorite landmark in a way that simply hasn’t been seen in that light before.

Birds over Stonehenge

Stonehenge by Benjamin Murga

Birds over Stonehenge

London Tower Bridge by Sven Hansche

Be The Landmark

So often when face-to-face with a famous location or iconic landmarks we are compelled to take an image of said place point blank, even if it is the same picture you have seen countless times before. It’s as if snapping that pic will be the marker that says “I was here”. After taking this picture (because, let’s face it, it’s impossible not to) think of taking a picture as if you were the landmark itself. By looking backwards you can capture a dynamic, thought-provoking subject matter of the crowds that turn out to visit these famous spots. This is an out-of-the-box perspective that can also act as a catalyst for you to recall your experience of being a part of the landscape.

View of Palatine Hill from Roman Colosseum Window

Palatine Hill from Roman Colosseum by Eszter Szadeczky-Kardoss

Man walkings through Machu Picchu from a high vantage point

Machu Picchu by Russell Johnson


Reflections can be an interesting method to shoot popular photo locations in a way that is not generally considered. When the opportunity does present itself and is thoughtfully composed by exploring different angles at which the reflection is most visible, you have the power to capture multiple scenes in one frame and greatly expanding the portrayal of place. Try to shoot with a narrow depth-of-field at a time other than high noon to guarantee sharp focus and correct exposure.

Reflection of man in pool of water with Eiffel Tower in background

Eiffel Tower by Monica Mayayo V

St Paul's Cathedral London

St Paul’s Cathedral, London by Steve Horsley

There are so many photographers taking amazing pictures of iconic landmarks with their own personal twist. If this is something that you are drawn to, or you are taking a trip that you want to have record of for years to come, practice finding your own voice. Consider your surroundings and determine what you want to include and not include in the scene to best express your impression.

Work with the lines and patterns naturally occurring around you to guide viewers’ eyes around the frame. Add personal elements to your frame that are meaningful to you and choose a subject matter that doesn’t necessarily include the iconic landmark itself and instead shows your relationship with it. Lastly, look for reflections to build more complex imagery that can communicate a detailed story of your surroundings.

Cortigiano is a food, lifestyle, and event photographer with a contemporary aesthetic. She received an undergraduate degree in photography at Drexel University and has gone on to work as a freelance photographer and teaching artist in the San Francisco Bay Area.


  • Kymberly B. Cortigiano

    Hey Thomas- We couldn’t agree with you more!! Glad to hear you take control of opportunities and inject your own point of view:)

  • Thomas St. James

    The first impulse is to take the stock shot, the postcard shot. But if I wanted that shot I could just buy the postcard. I always try to find a different perspective, a different angle, sometimes a little odd or quirky. I don’t want everyone else’s shot I want my own unique photo.

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