Facebook Pixel Travel Photography Subjects: Icons

Travel Photography Subjects: Icons

Machu-Picchu This post is number seven of twenty one subjects that will help you focus when on your next journey and you wish to bring back a well rounded story of where you were.  If you’re just going on vacation and only want pictures of yourself by the pool sipping boat drinks, then you can probably skip this one.  These posts are not intent on telling you everything you need to do, step by step, to capture perfect, cookie-cutter pictures while traveling.  Instead, they are intent on pointing out some vital elements to capture when on the road and ask thought provoking questions you may want to ask yourself.  My hope is they help guide you to find your own means to better expressing what your travels have meant to you and present that in the best light possible.

Icons is almost too easy of a subject because it’s the one thing of which even the most casual visitor will snap photos.  The Eiffel Tower. Pyramids of Egypt.  Or Machu Picchu pictured at right.  They are probably featured prominently in the guide book you bought in anticipation of your next trip abroad.  They are the first thing you think of when I say Tibet, Australia or Las Vegas.  Easy, right?

By all means, take photos of those icons you may have traveled half way across the globe to see. Just because you can find a thousand images on the internet by searching for, “Angkor Wat” doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take your own version too.  It’s a real part of what you’re experiencing on your trip.  Throw away any thought you may have of icons being overshot and overdone.  They are a big part of where you are.  And remember, there are twenty one subjects in this series, so one more picture of Kilimanjaro at sunset is only 4.76190476% of the story you can tell if you follow along.

Yes, everyone has done it and as a stand alone picture, maybe that icon would look boring.  But think of it as part of your overall experience.  If it does seem boring and droll, challenge yourself to take a new stab at it.

Take a look at the picture below and tell me if you know what it is.

Machu Picchu From Wayna Picchu

If you guessed Machu Picchu, you’re absolutely correct.  If you guessed South Jersey, you’re off a bit.  If you were yelling out loud to your screen, it was really more of a rhetorical question.  The photo is taken from Wayna Picchu, the mountain you see in the first photograph behind Machu Picchu.  And it is a bear of a hill to trudge, grabbing at wire cables to haul yourself nearly straight up at times while dripping in the humid jungle heat.  But it’s worth it.  You get a whole different view of the icon.  In the first ‘classic’ photo the city looks immense, sprawling, all-encompassing to its surroundings.  But in the second photo things are put into a different perspective.  The city now seems smaller, with far more fields.  More precariously perched with valleys all around.

What icons do you have lurking in the cobweb corners of your computer?  Drop a link or embed a photo in the comments section below.  Because even though they can be over done, I’m sure you have a slightly different view of these tried and true photographic icons.


Previous articles in the Travel Photography Subjects series include Water, Old People, Young People, Religion, Sports and Socializing.  Be sure to subscribe to this site to receive the other 15 subjects as they are posted!

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Peter West Carey
Peter West Carey

leads photo tours and workshops in Nepal, Bhutan, Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles and beyond. He is also the creator of Photography Basics – A 43 Day Adventure & 40 Photography Experiments, web-based tutorials taking curious photographers on a fun ride through the basics of learning photography.

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