They say the early bird gets the worm, and the early photographer gets the best shot and has the place to themselves!
With the ever-growing popularity of photography, it is becoming increasingly harder to find unique photography locations or good photography locations that are not busy. Thanks to social media, people can see where all the best locations are and travel there to take advantage of them. We aren’t just talking landscape photographers either, I’m talking about every single person with a camera or smartphone who wants to go to the spots where the likes are. Or what about the high season during the summer months or the weekends in a more inhabited area? Thankfully there are a few ways that you can combat this, and still get quality picture locations without having to share them with the crowds. Here are my top 5 tips to avoid the crowds and take some amazing photos!
Tip 1: Go in the Off season
All around the world, there are certain places that are more crowded during select times of the year than others. Places like the Alps, Iceland, or the US National parks can be insanely crowded during peak seasons and holidays, while during the “off season” they can be almost vacant. For example, the Dolomites are very quiet during the fall/autumn which, coincidentally, is also the best season to get the best photos. Do a little bit of homework, and figure out when there will be less tourists and travelers and you can drastically reduce the amount of people that you will run into.
Tip 2: Find Locations Yourself
Although it requires more work and a little practice, finding locations yourself is well worth the effort. I can easily that without this skill, I wouldn’t be anywhere near the photographer I am now. If you think that there are only a few good spots in an area because that is what you were told or that’s what the photos online are showing you, try planning with Google Earth and check it out yourself. There are so many people that copy each other’s locations, that getting off the beaten path just a little bit can produce something unique. On top of that, you will most likely have the place to yourself and won’t have to deal with overcrowded spots.
Top 3: Go Early
I know it can sometimes be hard to wake up early in the morning, especially in winter when it’s cold and dark, but hear me out. In the summer months, the sunrise times are very early and the sunsets are very late. This gives you the advantage of avoiding crowds by setting the alarm clock and getting out there. They say the early bird gets the worm, and the early photographer gets the best shot and has the place to themselves!
Tip 4: Go to New Countries
Sometimes you will see photos from a country and think, “why haven’t I been there or even heard about that place before?” Different countries often have untapped potential for great photos but you have to take action in order to be the first. The more unknown the country, usually the bigger the potential is. If you want to play it safe, you can travel to relatively unknown parts of the Slovenian Alps for example. By safe I mean to say it is still relatively easy to get around and to use existing photo material from locals and non-landscape photographers. If you want to be a little more adventurous, why not try something like Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, or Russia. If these still don’t sound adventurous enough for you, feel free to ignore all of these countries and go find one yourself that nobody has ever heard of!
Tip 5: Use A Tent
Not only will this allow you to be on the spot at sunrise and sunset, but it will also allow you to travel further into the area without having to worry about turning around and be back before darkness. I always camped out when I first started, and was very surprised when someone told me that they discovered my secret to the great light in my landscape photos because I slept in a tent. For me it was very normal, but for many camping is associated with being uncomfortable and being less convenient. Both can easily be taken care off with the right preparation and knowledge. As always, check the local rules for camping and stick to the “leave your camp as you found it’’ or when the situation requires it: “leave your camp better than you found it”!
By using all of these tips, you can easily begin to avoid all of the crowds and start to get more unique photos. Now get out there quickly and start taking photos, because as soon as people read this article (all 3 of them ;)) you will not be alone this winter in Tajikistan!