We’ve all seen the picture perfect postcard image of {insert famous landmark here}. Whether it’s the Statue of Liberty, the Hollywood sign or the Eiffel Tower – every single image looks almost exactly the same. Even those who try to find a new perspective might find that there are a hundred shots of the underside of the Eiffel Tower as well (thanks, Ikea). So, how do you go on vacation and avoid getting a cliched landmark photo? Is it possible or do you even care that your photo looks like everyone else’s photos of Big Ben? If you do care, here are a few tips to help you get some classic photos of landmarks creatively.


I was in one of my favorite cities in the world at PhotoPlus Expo a few weeks ago, and I was able to get away for a few hours to see a tourist attractions – Skyline and the 9-11 Memorial. I only had my iPhone camera with me and was on about 5  total hours of sleep in 3 days, so the pictures are mediocre at best. Coincidentally, last week, our friend Antti Karppinen, who keeps me busy by sending me his great work, sent me a few from his recent 40th birthday trip to New York.

Image Courtesy of Antti Karppinen

Antti had always wanted to visit New York and so his friends and family gifted him with a 10-day trip. With camera in hand, Antti and a friend set off for their adventure:

When we finally arrived to New York, it was amazing to be in the middle of the landscapes and places that I´ve seen in movies and TV. Seeing the familiar views made me want to try to capture the spirit of these places in a different way, not repeat the same scene as in every NY postcard.

As with most photographers in the digital age, the trip produced thousands of images. Antti was unhappy with how many of them were turning out. It seemed the “spirit of the city was lost in the masses of pictures,” Antti writes in an email, “looking at these pictures I tried to see beyond the obvious and add something that would make the image feel like I felt when I saw the view. Now I was happy; Even though these images are only a fraction of things I experienced during my vacation, to me, they represent my bite of the Big Apple; same familiar look but a new and fresh taste. I will remember my trip through these images much more vividly than looking at the thousands and thousands of other shots I took during those 10 days.”

Image Courtesy of Antti Karppinen

Antti, who loves to work with composites in post production, applied his passion to this set of images to create a unique look at the Big Apple.

If you’re looking to photograph landmarks more creatively, try some of these tips.

1. Try To See The Small Details or Look At The Bigger Picture

Even the smallest details can be really interesting and have a lot of story in them, but the same also goes for the wider landscapes as well. Look for patterns, lines, and elements. Also, previsualize how you would retouch them later. You may want to combine two or more images together for a cool composite.

Image Courtesy of Antti Karppinen

2. Look for Ways to Create a Unified Series

If you post a series of images, make them look unified somehow. You can have a similar theme in the composition or in how you process the images. Find images with the same color scheme or patterns. Use the same sharpness and shades to make them look like they belong together.

Image Courtesy of Antti Karppinen

3. Be Original. Create Art.

You may be thinking, “duh,” but you’d be surprised how easy it is to fall into the same rut. While it may be tempting just to stand in the “Picture Spot” and press your shutter, don’t be shy to experiment on your travel images. Flip them, mix images, mirror them, twist and turn them. You might discover something totally different from an image that is upside down. Use your imagination and inspiration from other sources to create something unique. Be an artist, even with your travel images. Don’t post all your 2500 images; select a few and make them the best they can be.

Image Courtesy of Antti Karppinen

The important thing is to have fun. Remember that you’re on vacation and let the creativity and experimenting begin! (And if you’re tired and just want a memento of your destination, there’s nothing wrong in taking a picture-perfect postcard image of a famous landmark).

To see more of Antti Karppinen’s work, check out his website here.

CREDITS: Photographs by Antti Karppinen are copyrighted and have been used with permission for SLR Lounge. Do not copy, modify or re-post this article or images without express permission from SLR Lounge and the artist.