Visiting a new city can be overwhelming visually. There are so many things to see and photograph. Trying to photograph everything is just not possible, so where do we start?
I always think it’s great to get the obvious shots – the ‘postcard’ shots if you will. Friends always want to see them when you get back… “where’s the photo of the Eiffel Tower? Big Ben? Buckingham Palace?” People have a preconceived idea about what they should be seeing and (usually) enjoy seeing the photographs you made that match their vision. But what about your vision? What about the shots you want to make?
Running around the city trying to replicate every postcard you’ve ever seen is going to be tiring and let’s face it, the images are going to be somewhat boring. They’ll be just like everyone else’s images. Right?
One of the ways that I’ve found works well to get ‘different’ shots is to choose a theme when you go out making your images. Pick a colour… a shape… an object. It doesn’t matter what the theme is, but choosing a theme helps you to focus your attention on something and usually means you come away with a better collection of images.
While in Paris last year as a participant in a workshop run by Valerie Jardin Photography, we visited the open air Marché Raspail market on Boulevarde Raspail. It was a fantastic market with many different things to photograph. So, I chose to concentrate on a single colour. I made a decision to photograph anything that was red. It’s amazing just how many things are red, or have red in them, when you start looking. For that matter, the same applies for any colour you might choose – concentrating on one colour just focusses your attention. Our time at the market went so quickly, but I came away with a collection of images that I’m very happy with.
You can find many images that have your chosen theme that still tell a story about where you are. Signs written in French; prices written in Pounds Sterling; wherever you happen to be, whatever you choose, you can tell a story about your travels.