Do your homework

Knowing how other photographers have approached a place gives you a good springboard from which to start your own explorations. Check out postcard stands, photo-rich guidebooks and online resources such as Flickr.

Don’t miss the key shot

Shot looking upwards with a wide-angle lens, the Taj Mahal’s minarets become arrows leading into the middle of the frame. The early morning sky adds colour and texture.

Use natural distortion sparingly

If you’ve got a wide-angle lens, aiming the camera upward causes vertical lines to converge towards the middle of the frame. Used judiciously, this natural distortion produces striking dynamic compositions, as seen in the Taj Mahal shot above.

Also Read David Stott’s earlier columns

Home in on details

Rajasthani palaces are great for detail shots. This one shows a close crop on the main gates of Jaipur’s City Palace.

Capture the human element

Many people get frustrated when others stand in the way of their careful composition. Chill out. In touristy places it’s rarely possible to get people out of your shot altogether, so instead of steaming up, try to find ways to include them in it. A long telephoto lens makes it easy to isolate unique and authentic moments in the life of the place.

Go behind the scene

To really surprise people, you have to find angles that others don’t think of. This might mean asking a shopkeeper to let you on to his roof, bribing your way past a security guard, or ducking inside a London pub to shoot Big Ben framed by ornate window etchings. Being nosy like this can really pay off. I’ve collected some of my favourites images of the Taj Mahal by quietly disappearing down side streets, away from the tourist throng. Ultimately, even the most photographed of subjects and the simplest of cameras can yield original, memorable shots. The only other tool you need is your imagination.

David Stott is a writer and photographer based in Australia.

Write to us at