By Rick Steves
Here are some tips and lessons that I’ve learned from the photographic school of hard knocks.
Capture striking light, contrasting shades, repeating patterns, interesting textures, bold colors and intimate close-ups.
Look for a new slant on an old sight. Postcard-type shots are hard to resist, but boring. Everyone knows what the Eiffel Tower or Big Ben looks like. Find a different approach to sights that everyone has seen. Instead of showing the Leaning Tower lean, climb to its top and try a shot of the piazza below you. Shoot up at the snowy face of the Matterhorn … through the hind legs of a cow.
Capture the personal and intimate details of your trip. Show how you lived, who you met, and what made each day an adventure (a close-up of a picnic, your favorite taxi driver, the character you befriended at the launderette). Those moments — your moments — are the ones you’ll want to remember.
Vary your perspective. Shoot close, far, low, or high, during the day and at night. Don’t fall into the rut of always centering a shot. Use foregrounds to add color, depth and interest to landscapes.
Notice details. Eliminate distractions by zeroing in on your subject. Get so close that you show only one thing. Don’t try to show all of something in one shot — zoom in. People are the most interesting subjects. It takes nerve to walk up to someone and take his or her picture. But if you want some great shots, be nervy.
Buildings, in general, are not interesting. It doesn’t matter if Karl Marx or Beethoven was born there, a house is as dead as its former resident. Experienced travel photographers take more people shots and fewer buildings or general landscapes.