Photography Tips; Finding Perspective

Travel inspiration surrounds us, there is a multitude of ways in which we can travel vicariously. Photography in epic films which span the globe, travel and natural history documentaries, magazines, books and personal websites offer ample opportunity to view the world from the comfort of an armchair.

The underground escalators in Ortisei, in Val Gardena in the South Tyrol region of Italy on Mallory on Travel, adventure, adventure travel, photography DPP_0013 escalators

Not the average escalator view

Since the introduction of digital photography and the popularity of social media exploded, the number of available images has increased beyond all expectations. The internet has become saturated with what is commonly termed as travel porn, evocative and often stunning images of the world. Every traveller with a camera is now capable of capturing high quality images and uploading them to the internet. There isn’t even a need for a computer, most devices can now upload directly.

A rice field in Catalonia, Spain on Mallory on Travel, adventure, adventure travel, photography Iain Mallory-300-75 rice_fields

The rice harvest

The challenge photographers have always faced is attempting to find something different, a more interesting perspective that hasn’t already been produced. This challenge has become more difficult by the flood of uploaded images to the world wide web. Capturing a different view of a popular landmark, photographed thousands even millions of times already, is not an easy task but one which faces every photographer.

Boot mailbox on Kangaroo Island near Adelaide in South Australia on Mallory on Travel, adventure, adventure travel, photography Iain Mallory-300-26 boot_mailbox

Massive mailbox

A string of mussels in the Delta l'Ebre in Catalonia, Spain on Mallory on Travel, adventure, adventure travel, photography Iain Mallory-300-105 mussels

String of fresh mussels

We have all seen many images of the Taj Mahal, Grand Canyon, Eiffel Tower or La Sagrada Familia, most are attractive, appealing but few are different or genuinely stimulating. For an image to truly stand out it needs to offer the viewer with something more, a different perspective, to spark interest it requires the photographer to portray it in a way that stimulates.

A stall selling limes in a souk in Seeb in the Sultanate of Oman on Mallory on Travel, adventure, adventure travel, photography Iain Mallory -134 market_oman

A matter of perspective

This may require arriving before all the other visitors, remaining long after they’ve left, or walking around for many hours to find an unusual view. The simplest way to find an unusual perspective is to take plenty of photographs from different angles and using the of creative modes of the camera. Review the results during editing, view them with a critical eye and attempt to select which angles and techniques provide the most captivating image. In time this will enable the photographer to anticipate the most suitable composition and creative mode without the need for dozens of captures.

A floating museum off the coast of Barcelona the capital of Catalonia, Spain on Mallory on Travel, adventure, adventure travel, photography Iain Mallory-300-114 sailing

Plain sailing from here

This skill is honed over time, the more the photographer practices taking unusual images, training their eye to select what appeals beyond being merely pretty the easier it will become. It will also improve creativity as the photographer will more readily experiment with their technique.

Wrapped pots in a souk in Nizwa in the Sultanate of Oman on Mallory on Travel, adventure, adventure travel, photography Iain Mallory -146 pottery-oman

Wrapped and colourful pots

This style of photography will enhance all images, not exclusively for landmarks but for all the images captured. Whenever exploring with a camera it is important to remain observant, look a little closer and try to find an unusual and different perspective. Walking the streets and seeing beyond the ordinary will be productive, search out markets or unusual architecture which make ideal subjects, everyday items like washing lines or cars on the street.

A Ferrari at the Spanish Grand Prix near Barcelona in Catalonia, Spain on Mallory on Travel, adventure, adventure travel, photography Iain Mallory-300-11 ferrari

The prancing horse

Cruising the streets of Havana capital city of the Caribbean island of Cuba on Mallory on Travel, adventure, adventure travel, photography Iain Mallory-300-114 cuban_car

Reflections of Havana

This will add variety to any portfolio, more colour, surprising street scenes, unusual sights all which tell a story and are more likely to stimulate a response. Everybody that has ever taken a photograph has received a compliment like “oh that’s lovely” but to generate genuine variety is needed, select images which are different enough to capture the viewer’s imagination.

A small tree silhouetted on the sialnd of Spinalonga, Crete in Greece on Mallory on Travel, adventure, adventure travel, photography Iain Mallory-300-21 spingalonga_crete

Standing in silhouette

Canoe type fishing vessel in Seeb in the Sultanate of Oman on Mallory on Travel, adventure, adventure travel, photography Iain Mallory -119-2 boat_oman

Omani open canoe

It is a skill which maybe learned in your local neighbourhood, exploring the local vicinity and seeing it differently is the ideal place to start. It is likely that there is a great deal within a 10 minute walk of the front door which has not been noticed before. Learn your trade where you are most familiar, readily find the cool and stimulating, become proficient and find more time to enjoy travelling and not just seeing destinations through the viewfinder of a camera.

Climbing the Nohoc Mul pyramid in the ancient Mayan site of Cobá in the Riviera Maya region of Mexico on Mallory on Travel, adventure, adventure travel, photography Iain Mallory-300-16 coba_mexico

Just follow the rope

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Comments 19

  1. Turtle

    Great post! I agree that it’s the different angles or lighting or other effects which make photos truly memorable. If you view it as an artform, then the subject matter shouldn’t be as important as the photo itself.

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      Iain

      Thanks Michael and a great point, an otherwise boring subject matter can be made to look artistic and stimulating by viewing it differently and composing it in more exciting manner.

  2. Nat

    I understand the challenge to make our photos different so very well. I was really pleased with one that I took of Sumela monastery perched on the side of a cliff face. Upon further browsing the net, it looked just the same as everyone else’s apart from a couple of white clouds! This photography lark is a lot harder than it seems!

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      Iain

      That must have been heartbreaking Nat. Totally agree despite the new freedom of digital photography it has actually made finding a different perspective even more difficult.

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      Iain

      I totally agree that close up photography is exceptionally exciting but it’s even more important that everything is spot on. Zooming into those amazing details will show up any flaw in technique or quality of equipment.

  3. Dean

    Changing perspective can really give you a unique photo. This is especially true when photographing something like a popular tourist attraction. Great shots!

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      Iain

      Thanks Dean I totally agree photogs need to think outside the box to get some original images of tired travel cliches.

  4. Metha

    I found this article on WritingTravellers group on LinkedIn and it’s a great post!
    I like taking unique snapshots and I really agree that we should practice more and more. The way is simple yet the result of our technique would be much better.
    I’m still a newbie and using my brother’s camera at the moment (Canon EOS 550D).
    Do you think that taking a unique photo should be taken by SLR camera which produces very nice and clear photo?
    What about some people who have same interest yet they have no camera (only cellphone such as Nokia)? As we know the effect of the photo itself would be different. I need your opinion and advice.

    And just shared this article on my Tumblr~ 🙂

    -Metha-

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      Iain

      Hi Metha,

      I have a saying “the camera may capture the image but the photographer captures the essence”

      A DSLR may provide some additional versatility but every camera is capable of capturing a great image, it is the manner in which the photographer visualises and then composes the scene which is more important.

      There are plenty of great photos being shared on instagram with the photogs using smartphones. It is necessary however to be even more creative and look for unusual angles/perspectives to make the images standout and stimulate interest.

      Don’t worry about getting a DSLR too much yet, learn the craft with your friends, experiment with it and your phone, see what interesting results you can produce.

      Thank you for sharing this post:)

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      Iain

      Just keep experimenting Arianwen, take at least 3/4 captures of every scene from different perspectives and see which of them you prefer. You’ll soon be snapping away at unusual angles instinctively.

  5. Craig Makepeace

    Great thoughts Iain.

    I think adding people into photos, where appropriate, can add a new perspective and dimension to the story particularly when we’re talking about social media. People follow people and they like to picture themselves at famous places and see people they know and recognise in photos at famous places for the inspiration. Hey, I want to stand there too attitude. I’ve seen a million photos of Uluru, but every now and then it’s nice to see a photo of Uluru with a friend in it, just grabs my attention that little bit more. And sometimes you don’t even need text with the photo, as the facial expressions could tell you everything. Just a thought.

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      Iain

      Thanks for sharing your viewpoint Craig. I love taking pictures of people my favourite posts on here are almost all portrait biased, the people ARE the culture and often the story behind a destination. I might have to include a few more images of myself as although I hate seeing pics of me I agree other people always seem to share the odd rare image that escapes even more than the impressive landscapes or interesting perspective images.

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