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How to Avoid the Postcard Shot

Do your ever find that your travel photos look a lot like everyone else’s? Let’s look a ways to create unique travel photos so yours don’t look like the stereotypical “postcard shot”.

Not too long ago I post a photo I took at Peggy’s Cove in Nova Scotia. Then a friend told me she had purchased a photo of Peggy’s Cove that looked much like mine. When I saw it, I could tell the photographer and I had stood in almost the exact same spot while taking our shots. The two photos were not identical but VERY much the same. I had worked really hard that day to get a good composition and proper exposure. While my photo is everything I could hope for technically, I had learned it was not all that unique. What a letdown!

Why does this happen to us? Well, like most visitors to a new place, we can become mesmerized by the surroundings. Since we have never seen these buildings, landscapes, or people before we often don’t give much thought to the types of photos others might have taken from where we are standing. We naturally want to get the best photo from the best place. Sometimes, helpful park ranger have even marked these perfect photo spots for you with signs stating “photographic overlook” or “capture your Kodak moment here.” These are the places to capture your postcard shot.

What is a postcard shot? It is “that” photo everyone takes of _____ (you fill in the blank with the name of the place you are currently visiting). Here is an example.

I have been to St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands a couple of times. The first time, I took the cable car ride to the top of 800-foot Paradise Point, with excellent views of the Charlotte Amalie downtown, harbor, and beyond. This is where I got my postcard perfect shot you see here. Don’t get me wrong, I love this photo. I can remember how I felt when I was there and that is the  primary purpose of my personal travel photos. However, if I am searching for photo that might be unique, then I have to keep looking.

What should you do to keep your photos from looking like every other tourist’s photos? I think the single most important thing you can do is move. Moving:

  • even one or two steps to the left or right can make a difference
  • by squatting or kneeling provides a different point of view and changes the perspective of the photo
  • around to look behind you; you may be surprised
  • to find the best lighting or a natural framing element can add interest

It is tempting to get that perfect postcard shot–just like everyone else! So, go ahead, do it. Get it out of your system. Then, go in search of YOUR photos.

My Other Photos From St. Thomas

© 2021 - Carol Fox Henrichs | Nature Photographer & Photo Artist