From the new book, National Geographic Complete Photography, an extensive photo reference guide packed with tips, how-tos, galleries, and stories from Nat Geo’s top photographers including Annie Griffiths, Steve McCurry, Frans Lanting, and Jodi Cobb. Get your copy now.
Cities are difficult subjects. Look for ways to photograph the experience instead of the structures. Famous sites make good background elements, but structures alone can seem dead unless you find a novel approach.
Another key is to develop a shooting list: a checklist of neighborhoods, buildings, parks, or places vital to the city that you want to be sure to photograph. Then, when you arrive, spend a day scouting out those areas. Look for ways to add a sense of place to your images– for instance, a rainy street scene (as in the photo opposite) can capture more character than a sunny straight-on of a famous landmark.
Tip: Be mindful of distances and transportation options in large, sprawling cities .Use subway and street maps, or a GPS to plan your route.
Tip: Break down your shooting list by time of day– perhaps markets in the morning, romantic scenes at dusk, and the theater district at night.
Tip: Shoot interiors– restaurants, shops, or galleries– at midday, when the existing light is harsh outside but at its peak inside.
- Nat Geo Expeditions
What tips do you have for capturing the perfect city shot?
Photo: Markus Urban/My Shot