Beyond the Cliché

 
Considering that the Taj is most famous for its white marble, a silhouette that is so graphic is a very unique interpretation. Photograph/Kuldeep Chaudhari

Considering that the Taj is most famous for its white marble, a silhouette that is so graphic is a very unique interpretation. Photograph/Kuldeep Chaudhari

Conchita Fernandes shares easy tips on how you can add a dash of the unusual to those typical monument shots.

When someone mentions the Red Fort, what is the first image that you remember? Whether you have visited the place or not, you will still be able to form a visual in your mind. This is because these places have been photographically explored from every angle. So it does not come as a surprise that we can summon the image of a building in our mind without even having visited it. This is a challenge for photographers because it becomes that much harder to give the iconic location a new perspective.

Knowing Your Clichés
Explore why a particular kind of photograph is categorised as a clichéd shot. Go through photographs over the internet or images from old family trips. Make note of what has been done and what is the most photographed angle of the monument. This would give you some idea of what to avoid and possibly give you a fresh start.

This image of the Kargil War Memorial in Puducherry is made unique by the sunburst, birds and the human figure. Photograph/Shyamal Das

This image of the Kargil War Memorial in Puducherry is made unique by the sunburst, birds and the human figure. Photograph/Shyamal Das

 

Avoid Peak Hours
Noisy tourists and locals may not always contribute to the beauty of a place. It becomes cumbersome to shoot in the midst of a huge crowd. Visit the spot earlier or later in the day. It is advisable to inquire about the peak hours from the locals and plan your shoot accordingly.

Do Not Exclude People Entirely
Nevertheless, the very essence of a popular spot is its people. Having a few locals and tourists in the frame can add a different touch to the image. Photograph the little gift shops and the food carts that thrive alongside the structure.

The intricacies of the Tomb of Salim Chishti, Fatehpur Sikri are complemented by the emotional quotient of the photo. Photograph/Shanthkumar

The intricacies of the Tomb of Salim Chishti, Fatehpur Sikri are complemented by the emotional quotient of the photo. Photograph/Shanthkumar

 

Unique Vantage Points
Most visitors tend to shoot the front portion of the monument and ignore its rear portion. Scout the location and look for different points you can shoot from. It could be from the rooftop of a building or a narrow lane. Similarly, the elements surrounding the monument are important as well. You could even get to the highest point of the structure and shoot the river or buildings surrounding it.

The Little Details
We often tend to get carried away with the grandeur of the monument. And so, we forget about the little bits that make it look majestic in the first place. The next time you visit a place like Khajuraho, shoot the intricate carvings and the miniature statues present in its interior and exterior.

Change the way you look at a structure. In this image, the photographer has played with perspective and has shot the NCPA building in Mumbai, from a different angle. Photograph/Shridhar Kunte

Change the way you look at a structure. In this image, the photographer has played with perspective and has shot the NCPA building in Mumbai, from a different angle. Photograph/Shridhar Kunte

 

Shooting in Unfavourable Weather
Do not be disheartened if it rains or the area appears cloudy or foggy. You may not find a lot of images of historic temples and forts shot during unfavourable weather. Treat this as an opportunity to create photographs that look different.

In the end, clichés are clichés for a reason. It is impossible to avoid certain shots, simply because they look good. Do not stress over photographing unique images. Those regular family group shots in front of the Taj Mahal are memorable and fun and you may end up remembering that particular photograph more than any of the other pictures that you shot during the trip.

Be patient. Sometimes, a human element and a caught moment can add a spark to a mundane scene. Photograph/Subhrajit Basu

Be patient. Sometimes, a human element and a caught moment can add a spark to a mundane scene. Photograph/Subhrajit Basu

Smartphone Apps to Assist You on Your Trip

  • Pano (Android and iOS): Did you know that you can create panoramas on your phone using this paid app? However, if you want a similar app for free, you can try 360 Panorama (Android and iOS).
  • Layar (Android and iOS): Instead of lugging your tour guide around, a simple point and scan using your phone will reveal several links and useful information to the places and buildings around you.
  • Sunrise Photo (Android): This app will tell you exactly when the sun rises as per your location, every day. It is beneficial to a photographer because shooting in natural light will give you better looking photographs of the structure.
  • Remove (Android): Are you tired of the unwanted people present in your frame? This app instantly eliminates people from the image by giving the user the chance to edit them out.

The Importance of Spending Time
During a trip, we are mostly accompanied by family or friends. What often happens is that we are always in a hurry to move on to the next site that we end up shooting a few images of the structure. Unless you spend some time examining the location, your chances of getting a good shot are slim.

 

Tags: architecture, architecture photography tips, better photography, Conchita Fernandes, february 2013, monument, monument photography tips, photography tips, Shooting Technique