5 Ways to Photograph Travel Icons

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.

Read more from our Tips & Tutorials category

Jeremy Flint is a UK based award winning travel and landscape photographer, known for documenting images of beautiful destinations, cultures and communities from around the world. He recently won the Association of Photographers Discovery Award 2017 and the Grand Prize in the 2016 National Geographic Traveller and F11 Your Vision competitions. His pictures are represented by 4Corners images and have been featured in National Geographic Traveller, Outdoor Photography, Digital SLR Photography and national newspapers.

  • Tiesha M. Sammons

    Do you want to know real web-based income opportunity to receive atleast $7100 per 30 days? Then you are at the best place for the reason that I am generating that much since six months now. You are your own boss and travel the entire world with your family and friends at any time and enjoy your time together with them. You can take your laptop with net connection in countries you would like to travel and keep track of your on-line work anytime you want. Here’s the best method to start -> https://whiteteal.tumblr.com

  • Ashton J. Nolan

    Looking for authentic web-based earning money opportunity to receive atleast $9900 per month? Then you are at the correct place for the reason that I am earning that much since six months now. You will be your own boss and travel the world with your family and friends at anytime and really enjoy some time with them. You can take your laptop with net connection in locations you desire to travel and monitor your online work whenever you want. Here’s the most effective way to start —-> https://sconnytags.tumblr.com

  • Suzanne Vink

    Hi Jeremy, I’ve been trying to do this for a long time, but in the end pretty much every picture I have has some flower, tree, bird, or nearby object in it (or where possible frog perpective etc.) and it becomes more of a gimmick than actual creativity. I mean, the individual pictures are great, but seeing them in a series together (blog/portfolio) the pattern becomes clear real fast. Tips?

  • Jeremy Peter Flint

    Hi Suzanne, thanks for your comments. Do you have some image samples you can share here so I can give you some feedback and tips?

  • Suzanne Vink

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/98e635a24929fd7e2be3f4b9e173a321b68eff9f96f1921c80249b17d2e82f1e.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/08229704a5fa2ae1e05748ea0ceb1a33222a92b75c239926319c6113f1da1c9e.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/392863f6149abca56b9f1ed21a3897c6c577057e74877aca536ed99785f717fa.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/e390bec28edc03cb92921424c4783273e242fbbad946216100b750760d50e18b.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/d7e03ab12d2193d62972409ee045ab63f54edf348919dcc71f7bc4f67710deae.jpg

    Hi Jeremy! Thank you so much for this opportunity! So these are pictures from my Eastern Europe travels that I literally just came back from, they’re from quite stereotypical tourist hightlights (Krka Waterfalls, Pula Amphitheatre, Dubrovnik Old Town). Now I did also take photo’s of each without all the crazy added decoration, but then it feels like I bring home the same photo as every other tourist, so I was trying to be a bit creative. However as I said, by always using the same type of composition in doing so, it feels a bit forced. Do you have tips? 🙂

  • Suzanne Vink

    (I had to compress the images to be able to upload, so for some the quality might not be great)

  • Jeremy Peter Flint

    Hi Suzanne, thanks for sharing your images, I like the pictures of the Krka Waterfalls and Dubrovnik Old Town. You have framed the falls well and could crop in a little more to take out the branch on the left. Focusing on the pigeon with the old town out of focus creates interest. Keep taking pictures, be creative and try different compositions using the tips above in the article to see what works best, hope this helps 🙂

  • Joaozito Polo

    at Machu Picchu the shot is a breathless moment. Awesome! Awesome tips also, thank you!

  • Jeremy Peter Flint

    Thank you Joaozito, your welcome with the tips, hope you enjoyed reading the article.

  • Suuz

    Thanks Jeremy!!

Join Our Email Newsletter

Thanks for subscribing!

DPS offers a free weekly newsletter with: 
1. new photography tutorials and tips
2. latest photography assignments
3. photo competitions and prizes

Enter your email below to subscribe.
Get DAILY free tips, news and reviews via our RSS feed