Challenge Yourself - Aaron Northcott

Challenge Yourself and Improve Your Urban Photography

When was the last time you really felt challenged?

One of the only ways to really achieve success in photography whether professionally or as a hobbyist, is to continually push yourself. A great method of pushing yourself further is trying to shoot new subjects or familiar subjects in a different way.

Take a day out in the city.

It doesn’t matter which city as long as it is a big city with lots of people, and more importantly lots of tourists. You might think I’m going to tell you to go explore, scoping out secret gardens and undiscovered gems of the urban jungle (which I certainly wouldn’t discourage!) but that’s not the point of this post . . . it’s relatively easy to find a charming courtyard or wonky alley to immortalise through your images . . .

Go to the landmarks.

The Eiffel Tower, Brandenburg Gate, the Statue of Liberty, the Colosseum, Sydney Opera House, the Berlin Wall, the Petronas Towers, Buckingham Palace . . . the list goes on! The point is to find somewhere that is very well known and frequented by tourists – because tourists mean travel snaps.

Lots of travel snaps mean there will be lots of images online of the same place. Hundreds of shots of the same landmark, each only slightly different.

Your challenge is to find a new style of photographing the landmark.

It might sound straight forward but in the end, whether you achieve the shot or not, it’s about learning to see all of the possibilities rather than just sticking with the straight forward images you’re used to producing. 

If you normally shoot straight from the front – shoot from the side. If you like to get really low and photograph from the ground – then try finding a vantage point that allows you to look down on the subject.

Why not try shooting just part of the subject instead of the whole thing? Afterall, if it’s a well known landmark then everyone will know what the whole thing looks like . . . and this way you’ll leave a little to the imagination and hopefully engage your viewers even more.

Here’s a shot I took recently of Stortorget – the frequently photographed central square of Gamla Stan, Stockholm.

My hope is that this will just give you a few ideas that may help you to push your photographic skills a little more – not every style is for everybody, but the premise remains the same across many genres . . . . . . challenge yourself if you want to succeed!

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