How to Take Great Photos in Really Crowded Places

Mar 03 2016 1 Comment

"Yeah, your shot could be photo-bombed. Work with it!"

It stands to reason that if you’re going to a popular spot, it’s going to be… well… popular.  A lot of famous tourist attractions draw a lot of crowds, especially on the weekends, when everyone has a little bit of time off of work and school to go and see the sights. Trying to get a clear shot of your family without someone photobombing the picture is often a challenge.

But take heart! There are plenty of methods and tricks you can employ to get just the right photograph for your special occasion or family outing. Here are some of our favorites.

Have Patience

A lot of people make the mistake of hoping to get a great photograph the first time they take a shot, and they want to move on quickly to the next one. Most professionals, on the other hand, know that it takes a lot of tries, a lot of patience, and a little luck to get a photograph that turns out perfectly.

If the crowds are particularly thick, have some patience. Traffic tends to ebb and flow, so wait a few minutes for it to clear out a little before snapping a photo. Depending on the shot, you might even go ahead and include a few strangers in the background. They can add character and flavor! Someone photobombing a shot can give an otherwise dull picture a lot of humor and something to laugh at for years to come.

Fortunately, most people will be considerate of you and will wait a few seconds for you to take your photograph before they walk on by. Be considerate in return. Have your camera at the ready, be quick, and shoot the moment you’ve got an opportunity with clear space.

Get Some Close-Ups

Assess your background. Is there a lot of bright light? If there’s little to nothing around to help diffuse light, such as a lack of foliage or a lack of buildings, you could end up with a lot of empty space or empty, blown-out sky.

If that’s the case, get a few photographs of your family or friends from close up. Standing on a bridge, with their backs to the railing, you could incorporate a bit of interesting background while keeping your loved ones as the main focus. Mix it up a little. Not every shot has to incorporate some busy, iconic scenery that everyone else is going for.

Pick Unique Angles

Getting the right angle can do wonders for a photograph. Select the right lens and place yourself behind something in the foreground, and you can try using your cover to hide any groups of tourists while you shoot your subject.

You might also consider shooting at extreme upward angles too. Don’t just go for the eye-level shot that many amateur photographers do. Step in closer, tilt back your camera, and shoot away!

Go Early or Late

There are certain times of the day when tourist-friendly locations get extremely crowded, but the very early hours of the morning usually aren’t one of them. Morning light has a wonderful, soft quality to it that can turn mediocre photographs into stunning works of art, so set your alarm clock early and beat the crowds.

If you’re just not a morning person, you can always try walking around late at night. This won’t work for every location, of course, like in New York where the lights never go out, but it’s great for more rural areas or quieter towns.

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