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5 Ways to Photograph Travel Icons

Travel photography is one of the most popular genres of photography and for good reason. Travel provides an opportunity to see and experience something new. It evokes feelings of excitement and anticipation and gives a sense of adventure and pleasure.

Travel icons are a major draw for people on their travels and for people interested in travel photography. In their simplest form, they represent :monuments or landmarks that are iconic to a place or country”. If you are wondering how to photograph them, here are 5 tips to help you.

Travel Icons - grand canyon

1) Different Angles

The first hint in photographing travel icons is to choose a famous landmark or tourist sight you may like to visit and shoot it at different angles.

The world has an abundance of amazing travel icons. These landmarks are the first places you may think of when planning a trip to a certain country and often feature in travel brochures, books, magazines and postcards. In fact, the world’s great monuments are visited by millions of people every year, for example, Big Ben, The Pyramids, The Taj Mahal, Angkor Wat, the Grand Canyon and the Great Wall of China.

Travel Icon 02 - great wall of China

When photographing these scenic structures, you could try shooting with a wide angle of view to encompass a larger scale of the attraction.

With this shot of London’s Big Ben, I decided to include more of the surroundings such as the House of Parliament, to show some additional architecture. Shooting wide gives a broader overview of the icon and takes in more than just the tower.

Travel Icons 03 - Tower of London Big Ben

Some travel icons are huge in scale, especially when you are standing near to them. Sometimes, it is difficult to capture the whole landmark so use a wide -ngle lens to include as much of the icon in the frame as you can.

Travel Icon 04 - Rio De Janeiro

Alternatively, you can shoot close-up and focus your camera on some of its details. Identify any patterns that appeal to you or some details on the structure. Details can highlight an interesting feature of the building. Photographing a particular aspect of the icon that you enjoy could help make your photograph more visually striking.

2) The Classic View

Have you ever seen a beautiful world landmark in a travel brochure and felt inspired to visit it? Well, this is usually the classic view of an icon, a standard image of a sight that is instantly recognizable.

You should definitely try to capture the classic travel shot of the world’s best landmarks. After all, this is likely to be what inspired you to visit in the first place.

Travel Icon - Golden Gate bridge

3) Different Viewpoint

You could photograph your selected travel icon from an alternative viewpoint to give another perspective of an iconic landmark. The picture you create should be entirely from your own interpretation of how you see the icon.

You can produce interesting images just by changing your viewpoint. Find another vantage point and photograph what you see. Be sure to choose a viewpoint that appeals to you.

Travel Icon - Big Ben

I took this shot of Big Ben from the other side of the bridge which shows a slightly different angle of the clock and the Thames River with the bridge on the opposite side of the picture.

4) Choose Your Moment

The time of day can have an impact on the photography you create. If you shoot early or late in the day you may benefit from some nice warm light.

Travel Icon 07

Alternatively, you may be on a scheduled tour and choose to photograph the icon during the daytime. This can also be a good time to capture a landmark under bright blue skies or even in poor weather under dramatic light.

5) Include an animal or an object in the image

You don’t have to shoot the world’s best landmarks entirely on there own. They do look great when captured individually but throw an animal or object into the image to help create something original and add context.

Travel Icon 08

I photographed this image of the famous ruins of Machu Picchu with some llamas in the frame.


In summary, however you decide to photograph travel icons, try photographing them from different angles, the classic view, and a different viewpoint. Include a subject with the icon in the frame and choose a suitable time to capture the landmark.

Now it’s over to you, put these tips into practice and see what you can capture. Share your photos, tips, and comments on photographing travel icons below.

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Jeremy Flint
Jeremy Flint

Jeremy Flint is an award-winning photographer and writer, specialising in travel, landscape and location photography and is known for documenting images of beautiful destinations, cultures and communities from around the world. Jeremy has won awards including the National Geographic Traveller Grand Prize and the Association of Photographers Discovery Award, besides being commended in Outdoor Photographer of the Year. He has also been a finalist in the Travel Photographer of the year and British Photography Awards several times. He has been commissioned by commercial and editorial clients worldwide including National Geographic Traveller, Country Life, Discover Britain, USA National Parks and Visit Britain and has travelled extensively to over 65 countries.

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