One question I often get from people about my travel photography is “where are the people?”  This is particularly true for my photographs of locations that are generally popular tourists destinations.  In most of my travel photographs I try very hard to exclude the people because I feel they distract from whatever my true subject may be.  Whether photographing Stonehenge in England or Tumacácori Mission in Arizona I feel it can often be a better shot without the crowds of tourists.  That may not be the case in every situation or for every photographer.  But if you want to cut the people out and focus on the subject in your travel photography here are a few tips I have found work pretty well.

Photo of the Prince Albert Memorial in London1) Close in on the details – Whether it is the Grand Canyon or an architectural wonder of the world, most every grand scale travel photography subjects have some amazing details that the average tourist misses and are well worth capturing.  So get your zoom lens on and focus on the interesting details.  By zooming in on these you can’t help but cut out any distractions around it.  The image of the Prince Albert Memorial in London at the right demonstrates this.

Photo of the Prince Albert Memorial in London2) Zoom out and dwarf the people – take the opposite approach of tip number 1 and use your wide angle lens to get the entire subject.  This can have the effect of dwarfing any people that may be in your shot making them almost unnoticed because the real focus of the photograph dominates the image.  The image at the left is the same subject as the example in tip number 1, but this time using a wide angle lens makes the people on the steps appear tiny and inconsequential to the memorial monument as a whole.

3) Have patience – This is a good tip for photography in general, but it particularly applies when trying to capture a travel photography of a busy tourist site without the tourists themselves distracting from the subject.  Sometimes you have to scope out your ideal angle and location and then just wait for the crowds to part.  Get your shot all set up and be ready to click the shutter once there is a brief clearing.  Even at the busiest of tourist spots you can generally count on an occasional opening in the crowds to snap your image.

4) Search out angles and perspectives that allow you to avoid people – This one is pretty easy to accomplish.  It just takes a little leg work to seek out a perspective that allows you to capture your subject well without including any distractions.

5) Resort to PhotoShop – When all else fails and you just can’t seem to eliminate the people the magic of PhotoShop can always lend a hand.   A little cropping here and spot healing there can often do the trick if you accidentally got a stray head or arm in the shot.  It is a lot harder to do with full crowds, but if you have the skills edit away.

6) Embrace the crowds and include them in your shot – Finally, people in the shot are not always a bad thing.  They contribute something to the story of the image and can set the scene.  So you do not have to work tirelessly to remove them from every shot.  In some instances it is not possible to remove 0r work around every person.  For example, the Spanish Steps in Rome (at the left) would not be the same without the people.  The steps are all about the crowds that gather so you want to include them in an instance like this.

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