7 Unique Things To Photograph In A City
Cities always offer a great deal for photographers. They are a buzz of activity, electricity, information, happiness, and melancholy; everything and anything that makes a photographer tick. It's all waiting to be photographed in the urban landscape.
However, the problem with city photography is that it can often end up looking the same. For instance, if you look at any city pictures on Instagram, it can be difficult to distinguish the photographer behind the lens.
So how do you put your own stamp on city photography and capture something more unique?
Well, it's actually not too difficult. If you want to have an Instagram portfolio that is undeniably you – or perhaps even an Instagram photo book made entirely of your city excursion – then here are a few unique things you can photograph to tell a different story.
The Non-Touristy Spots
This first point is the most simple. When photographers go to a city, it can be very easy to get a little over-excited and photograph what they believe needs to be photographed. The famous landmarks, the impressive buildings, the bustling streets.
But these photographs don't tell the whole story of a city. To get that story, it can be a great idea to visit the non-touristy spots, otherwise vacant streets, and alleyways blanketed in shadows. Find spots in the city that are not so "touristy", and you will definitely end up with something more authentic.
Going to a city to photograph parks might sound strange, but green space in a city always offers something a bit different to the countryside. For one, there are people. City parks are almost always full of citizens going about their everyday routines, cycling, playing sports, or simply lounging in the sun.
But there's also an excellent opportunity to get some contrasting shots, with the artificial structures rising high above the treeline to create a glorious juxtaposition with the natural world around you.
The City From Above
One thing you'll find when browsing city photographs on social media is that most of the pictures are taken from street level, looking up at the buildings rather than looking down. For this reason, switching up your city photography can be a great way to add new perspectives and find different stories.
You can do this by getting up high and taking as many shots as possible from different angles. This will allow the viewer to see the city in several different lights, while also getting an alternative taste of your skills and perception.
The Merge Of Nature And Concrete
Our city streets don't just belong to us; they belong to everyone, human and animal! For this reason, it's a good idea to capitalise on this and find some contrasting shots of nature navigating its way around our concrete structures.
This is a little different from taking photographs in a park. This is about showing nature inside the city, whether it's birds perching on statues, squirrels lurking around parking lots, or perhaps some macro-photography of insects crawling amongst the crevices.
If you still want to take photographs that capture the city's buzz and activity, one of the best ways to do this is by photographing crosswalks. Last year, we wrote a blog about finding stories in urban photography, and here we noted the usefulness of crosswalks in creating a "leading line" to draw the viewer's gaze. Not only do they do this, but crosswalks often show the city at its most manic, busy, and chaotic – in the best way possible, of course!
Photographs of cities you don't often see are ones where nothing is happening. And by nothing, we mean nothing. No people. No buzz. No electricity. Photographs like this can be great for creating a more eerie, melancholic atmosphere.
They do require some effort, however. You'll have to be traversing the city either in the very late hours or early – before rush hour early! – if you want to capture the city in its quietest, most peaceful moments.
The Story Of The City, From Beginning To End
Okay, we're going to round this off with a slightly harder one. But if you're going to a photo book maker with these pictures, it's a good idea to tell a story with your photography and capture the context of the city itself.
You can do this by Googling the oldest spots in the city and making your way forward through time until you reach the most recent, modern architecture. This is a great way to tell the city's story – as well as the story of human architecture – whilst also traversing all the city's most beautiful spots!