This is the catch to shooting popular subjects. It stands to reason that as a professional photographer you look to shoot subjects that are marketable. World renowned tourist destinations are always going to be written about and advertised; therefore, images of these places are always going to be in demand. The thing is, everyone else knows this too and is out there shooting away.
The same reasoning applies to photographers of all levels. Imagine showing off your brilliant shot of you and your friends in front of Big Ben, only to have someone else pull out their shot of themselves in the same place 2 years earlier.
Whether you are a professional shooting on assignment or for stock, or on holidays and wanting to capture the moment for your own pleasure, the purpose of an image is to tell a story. The question then becomes: How do I make my images stand out from the crowd?
The difference needs to begin with the way you think about the shot. What is the story you are trying to tell? Is it the relationship of the great statue with its surroundings? Or are you more interested with the lines and textures on the statue itself? What is the feeling you want to evoke in people who might see your image?
A particular place might take on different characteristics during the course of a day. From warm light at a quiet sunrise to people swarming around during their lunch breaks and tourists lining up for tickets in the middle of the day, to a cool blue dusk as the day ends and street lights begin to switch on.
An image taken during one of these times will look and feel completely different to an image taken at the other end of the day. It is worth doing some research on the place you are visiting to find out what the most suitable time is to go. Maybe Summer? Autumn? During daylight or moonlight? There is a reason why professional photographers spend days, or weeks, at a location. Walking around it, watching people go by, noting the angles the light hits the subject at certain times of day. It is to capture its many moods and personalities, to illustrate their particular point.
If you do not have this luxury however, a quick internet search can provide a wealth of information, from possible vantage points, to the busiest and quietest times of day. For the average traveler with the intentions of capturing memories of their big trip, this can be the difference between getting the shot that illustrates your experience and wishing you’d had another hour to hang around.
Irrespective of what level your photography is at, with a little effort spent in research and planning, and a thoughtful approach to creating images, it is possible for anyone to take that one shot that stands out as special in a sea of just good ones. Just think outside the box.