A Sense of Place (Part 1)
|I'm in San Francisco this week, staying near Union Square. There is a photographer on every corner snapping every which way. So how do to create images of a beautiful and much photographed city that will stand out from the competition?|
|A mentor of mine gave this advice to travel photographers. He said to visit all the places you think you want to photograph on the first day or two upon arriving in a city. Check out the light and calculate when the light will be best for shooting. Study the angle and best place to shoot from. Figure out where you will want to be to get the most famous shot. Then move around a bit to see if you can find a new angle or a fresh perspective. Or see how you could let the landmark become a secondary element of the image. THEN return with your camera.|
|Of course this is all great on paper but just imagine how you would feel if you spent two days wandering around a city in beautiful weather just to look out the window and see a driving rainstorm on your shooting day. You might not get the shot you had so carefully planned but I always say in those cases: shoot rain.|
|A famous documentary photographer has joined me one afternoon in San Francisco this week. I asked him to give me some tips to help you create compelling and beautiful images of his favorite city. He took me to three of the highest buildings in San Francisco that have public rooms at the top. He planned it so that we could see the late afternoon light on the skyline and then the sunset and finally the city lights. He pushed his camera directly on to the window glass to steady it as he shot the city below. He also pointed out that every great city always has a bar at the top of a tall building, making for a relaxing end of day as well as a good shooting opportunity.|
|Whenever I'm going to be in a new city outside the US, I ask another friend of mine who travels the world shooting editorial images to recommend a restaurant for dinner. The first thing he asks me is what time I want to eat. This is not to avoid the crowds but because he chooses restaurants by the kind of light that will be available for the best shooting at the magic light times at end of day. (He also knows good food!)|
|No matter what large metropolitan area you live in or visit, there are always new situations and places to shoot. Even long-standing landmarks don't look the same. The Palace of Fine Arts in SF has had a fence around its lake for a long time. Now the fence is gone and new images can be made. What's old is new again.|
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