Find an Unusual Angle
Catherine Karnow is a San Francisco-based photographer whose work has appeared in National Geographic, National Geographic Traveler, and other publications. She has been teaching photography workshops since 1995.
As a travel photographer, I’m always looking for fresh ways to shoot iconic subjects. We’ve all seen the postcard shots of the Eiffel Tower and the Golden Gate Bridge. They mostly show icons as architectural elements devoid of people. I aim to shoot pictures that are unique and interesting, pictures that also convey the people and culture of an icon’s location.
The Hollywood sign in Los Angeles is almost always photographed from the front—a long-lens telephoto shot of the huge letters against the hillside. I wanted to see what the sign looked like up close. As I began to explore, I realized that a road runs right behind the sign. I hiked up the hill above the road and got a great view of both the sign from an unusual angle and the runners and walkers passing below. An additional bonus was seeing the view down the valley of Los Angeles: a wide-open vista of canyons and neighborhoods. —Catherine Karnow