25 Most Photographed Places on Earth

Cornell researchers analyzed 35 million Flickr photos and discovered that we all shoot the same places—from the same angles. Join us for a photographic countdown to the most recorded place on earth—plus, tips from our photo editors for breaking the mold if you so choose.

Piazza San Marco, Venice, Italy

St. Mark's Basilica, with its grand arches and Romanesque carvings, dominates the main square of Venice. It is the most photographed landmark in the city.

(Courtesy Turinboy/Flickr)

Mining data from 35 million Flickr photos, scientists at Cornell University made some surprising discoveries: Not only did the world's most photographed cities (and the most captured landmark in each) emerge, but also so did the most common angles for shooting each place. So what do the results say about us as travelers? The findings suggest that through our cameras, we "vote" for our favorite places, things, and the best representation of them—and, by and large, we agree. We reached out to the researchers to see if the results had changed since the study was released in April 2009, and they crunched the numbers for us again—with a few exceptions (the Lincoln Memorial, for example, has replaced the Washington Monument as most photographed place in D.C.) not much had changed.

But how can you photograph world wonders in a way that makes something special out of the overly familiar? In our slide show, we showcase the most commonly shot landmarks from the top 25 cities—first showing you its classic angle and then offering fresh alternatives, with tips from our photo editors on how to put your own unique spin on these iconic destinations. Consider this your photographer's guide to the Flickr Wonders of the World.


25th Most Photographed City: Portland, Ore.

Landmark: Pioneer Courthouse Square.

Portland's 27-year-old public space, host to alfresco concerts and festivals, is the city's most visited spot.

Standard shot: The square overlooking the Portland Clock Tower.

Tip: The rule of thirds. The foundation for well-balanced images, this rule states that images should be equally divided by two vertical lines and two horizontal lines. Compose your shot so that the elements are placed along these lines. Here, the arm of this sculpture coincides with an imaginary vertical line, while his umbrella lines up with your horizontal line.

24th Most Photographed City: Dublin, Ireland

Landmark: O'Connell Street and the Spire of Dublin.

The city's wide main street, which runs into City Hall and Dublin Castle, is home to a hard-to-miss monument: the sleek and pointy spire, completed in 2003 as part of a street redesign and rising nearly 400 feet above the cosmopolitan scene.

Standard shot: The spire framed by O'Connell Street.

Tip: Experiment with angles. In this case, doing the unexpected—getting as close to the monument as possible and shooting upward—delivered a gem of a vantage point.


23rd Most Photographed City: Austin

Landmark: Capitol Building.

The 1888 Renaissance Revival–style capitol commands 22 gracious acres on Congress Avenue; it's constructed of red-tinged granite that was quarried just 50 miles away. You'll want to shoot this beauty from every angle.

Standard shot: Up into the rotunda.

Tip: Compare and contrast. Create a lively composition by contrasting your subject with an interesting object in the foreground—and then adjust the depth of field to focus on that object, leaving your original subject blurred in the background. Here, a metal ornament on the state capitol's gate becomes the new star of the shot.


22nd Most Photographed City: Philadelphia

Landmark: Independence Hall.

Constructed as the Pennsylvania State House in the mid 1700s, this structure, a beautiful example of Georgian architecture, was the meeting place for the Second Continental Congress from 1775 to 1783 and the site of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.

Standard shot: A side perspective of Independence Hall.

Tip: Frame with nature. Try to go for the less obvious composition by looking for trees or other sources of organic beauty to complement your subject. Here, the ginkgo trees perfectly frame the clock tower.


21st Most Photographed City: Venice, Italy

Landmark: Piazza San Marco.

St. Mark's Basilica, with its grand arches and Romanesque carvings, dominates Venice's sprawling main square, where camera-toting tourists jostle for space with pigeons.

Standard shot: A full frontal view of St. Mark's Basilica.

Tip: Capture the vibe. Sometimes it helps to set your sights on the action of a place rather than its overall beauty. Here, focus on the fluttering pigeons that famously fill the plaza, and the feel of the place will be more evident than it could be in any wide-angle shot.


Join us for a photographic countdown to the most recorded place on earth—plus, tips from our photo editors for breaking the mold if you so choose.

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