BUDGET TRAVEL TIPS

Photos: 25 Most Photographed Places

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.

  1. 25th Most Photographed City: Portland, Ore.
    Landmark: Pioneer Courthouse Square.
    Standard Shot: A photo of the square overlooking Portland Clock Tower.

    (Courtesy Cacophony/Wikimedia Commons)
  2. 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.

    (Courtesy Dave G. Houser/Corbis)
  3. 24th Most Photographed City: Dublin, Ireland.
    Landmark: O'Connell Street and the Spire of Dublin.
    Standard Shot: The spire, framed by O'Connell Street.

    (Courtesy Михал Орела/Wikimedia Commons)
  4. 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.

    (Courtesy Andrew Parnell/Flickr)
  5. 23rd Most Photographed City: Austin.
    Landmark: Capitol Building.
    Standard Shot: Up into the rotunda.

    (Courtesy Randall Chancellor/Flickr)
  6. 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.

    (Courtesy Austin Conv. & Visitors Bureau)
  7. 22nd Most Photographed City: Philadelphia.
    Landmark: Independence Hall.
    Standard Shot: A side perspective of Independence Hall.

    (Courtesy Dan Smith/Wikimedia Commons)
  8. 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.

    (Courtesy JD Thomas/Wikimedia Commons)
  9. 21st Most Photographed City: Venice, Italy.
    Landmark: Piazza San Marco.
    Standard Shot: A full-frontal view of St. Mark's Basilica.

    (Courtesy Turinboy/Flickr)
  10. 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.

    (Courtesy flyone/Flickr)
  11. 20th Most Photographed City: Madrid, Spain.
    Landmark: Plaza Mayor.
    Standard Shot: A view across the square taken from the southeast corner.

    (Courtesy Gryffindor/Wikimedia Commons)
  12. Tip: Cozy up to something. In a sprawling square, highlight a specific detail—such as this statue in the Plaza Mayor—and shoot it from below, creating a silhouette framed by an expansive sky.

    (Courtesy bachmont/Flickr)
  13. 19th Most Photographed City: Vancouver, B.C.
    Landmark: Granville Island.
    Standard Shot: A long shot of the skyline from the harbor.

    (Courtesy George Rose/Getty)
  14. Tip: Find some color. Look for an out-of-the-ordinary corner to focus on, and then, if you have a compact camera, choose a setting that accentuates the colorful hues of the canvas before you, such as "landscape" for a garden or, if appropriate, "night." On Granville Island, for example, explore the docks and capture the lights at night.

    (Courtesy Casey Yee/Flickr)
  15. 18th Most Photographed City: Milan, Italy.
    Landmark: Duomo di Milano.
    Standard Shot: The front of the cathedral, taken from the base.

    (Courtesy S Sheperd/Flickr)
  16. Tip: Get past overwhelming façades. Zoom in on visually interesting lines and sculptures, as this photographer did, turning a collection of spires into an arresting graphic image.

    (Courtesy juani11/myBudgetTravel)
  17. 17th Most Photographed City: Toronto, Ont.
    Landmark:
    CN Tower.
    Standard Shot:
    A vertigo-inducing angle shot from below.

    (Courtesy Bill Wrigley/Wikimedia Commons)
  18. Tip: Get some exposure. Achieving a colorful shot at night is tricky. Use a slow shutter speed, which increases exposure, and a tripod to eliminate blur, and skip the flash to make the lights in your skyline glow. This photographer captured Toronto and its iconic tower from Ward's Island (part of the Toronto Islands), across the Inner Harbor.

    (Courtesy Abi K/Flickr)
  19. 16th Most Photographed City: Florence, Italy.
    Landmark: Duomo (Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore).
    Standard Shot: The stunning façade.

    (Courtesy Christopher Patterson/Wikimedia Commons)
  20. Tip: Capture it all. Juxtapose a section of the landmark building with a view of the city (or other contextual elements) by shooting out from within the icon itself.

    (Courtesy Alycia Rockey)
  21. 15th Most Photographed City: Las Vegas.
    Landmark: Paris Las Vegas hotel.
    Standard Shot: The front of the hotel, as seen through the fountain at night.

    (Courtesy Sylvain Leprovost/Flickr)
  22. Tip: Go away. Sometimes it helps to get some perspective. In this case, you can cross Las Vegas Boulevard and go up into Paris's neighbor, the Bellagio, to get an elevated shot of the hotel spectacle.

  23. 14th Most Photographed City: Berlin, Germany.
    Landmark: Brandenburg Gate.
    Standard Shot: Straight on.

    (Courtesy Thomas Wolf/Wikimedia Commons)
  24. Tip: Break the rules. Shoot directly into the sun as it sets to create a compelling silhouette.

    (Courtesy Colocho/Wikimedia Commons)
  25. 13th Most Photographed City: San Diego.
    Landmark: Balboa Park.
    Standard Shot: A zoomed-out focus on the tower of the California Building.

    (Courtesy Stan Shebs/Wikimedia Commons)
  26. Tip: Try fresh angles. This unusual composition, including just the tip of the ornate California Building, fills the frame with the vibrant blue sky as reflected in this body of water.

    (Courtesy debaird™/Flickr)
  27. 12th Most Photographed City: Barcelona, Spain.
    Landmark: Sagrada Família.
    Standard Shot: From the front entrance, looking up.

    (Courtesy Alycia Rockey)
  28. Tip: Zoom in. Avoid the standard, straight-on shot (and, in this case, unattractive scaffolding) to zoom in on the ornate details, such as the basilica's steeples.

    (Courtesy David Blaikie/Flickr)
  29. 11th Most Photographed City: Boston.
    Landmark:
    Fenway Park.
    Standard Shot:
    Far, wide shots of players.

    (Courtesy Kyle James/Flickr)
  30. Tip: Seize the moment. Preset your camera on its rapid-fire, or "sports," setting—but, when the big moment happens, look to the stands instead of the field for inspiration. When you see something animated, such as a fan waving his arms in the air, you'll be ready to snap multiple shots, capturing the silhouette (and the energy of the crowd) against the backdrop of the field. (Courtesy Jerry Driendl/Getty)

    (Courtesy Jerry Driendl/Getty)
  31. 10th Most Photographed City: Amsterdam, Netherlands.
    Landmark:
    Dam Square.
    Standard Shot:
    Wide, with buildings and lots of space.

    (Courtesy Gouido Cozzi/Atlantide Phototravel/Corbis)
  32. Tip: Try keeping other people in the frame. There's a natural temptation to shy away from shooting photos of strangers, but including people can give viewers a contextual clue about the relative size of the subject you're photographing. Plus crowds can make a space seem more alive. This photographer has used the plaza as a backdrop to capture its local talent.

    (Courtesy Allen Hutchison/Flickr)
  33. 9th Most Photographed City: Rome, Italy.
    Landmark: Colosseum.
    Standard Shot: The structure, in its entirety.

    (Courtesy Chris Nichols/Flickr)
  34. Tip: Take advantage of a natural "frame." The archways at Rome's Colosseum give shape to the photo. Shooting through windows, courtyards, doorways, and other openings can create an appealing inside/outside dynamic.

    (Courtesy NJ Spicer/Flickr)
  35. 8th Most Photographed City: Seattle.
    Landmark:
    Space Needle.
    Standard Shot:
    From directly below.

    (Courtesy Wildcat Dunny/Flickr)
  36. Tip: Create a mirror image. Reflective surfaces are common in urban areas. For a unique take on a classic monument, look around for how an object might be mirrored in a car window, a building's glass front, or the surface of a fountain.

    (Courtesy Ian Sane/Flickr)
  37. 7th Most Photographed City: Washington, D.C.
    Landmark: Lincoln Memorial.
    Standard Shot: The full building, from a distance.

    (Courtesy Stevehdc/Flickr)
  38. Tip: Put things in "perspective." A straight-on shot is the most obvious one to take of the Lincoln Memorial, as it puts the main subject front and center. But including other objects in the picture, like this $5 bill, adds a creative element of whimsy to what might otherwise be a dime-a-dozen postcard image.

    (Courtesy Ryan McFarland/Flickr)
  39. 6th Most Photographed City: Chicago.
    Landmark:
    Cloud Gate sculpture.
    Standard Shot:
    A direct shot of the bean, taken from the side.

    (Courtesy Bernt Rostad/Flickr)
  40. Tip: Avoid the obvious. Whether it's a sculpture, a person, or a building, you can always walk around your subject to get a different view. In this case, the photographer went underneath the bean sculpture—made of highly polished steel and inspired by liquid mercury—and shot upward for a unique view.

    (Courtesy Kramer/Flickr)
  41. 5th Most Photographed City: Los Angeles.
    Landmark:
    Hollywood Walk of Fame.
    Standard Shot:
    One star, shot from above.

    (Courtesy Saliko/Wikimedia Commons)
  42. Tip: Use distance as a frame of reference. Rather than rush in and snap away, pre-visualize your image, thinking about how to photograph a subject from different directions. In this case, the photographer chose to present the stars in a line—a decision that brings context to the shot.

    (Courtesy Frederick Dennstedt/Flickr)
  43. 4th Most Photographed City: Paris, France.
    Landmark:
    Eiffel Tower.
    Standard Shot:
    Full-on, from far away.

    (Courtesy Tognopop/Wikimedia Commons)
  44. Tip: Keep an eye out for unexpected patterns. Most pictures of the Eiffel Tower are taken from a distance, but its detailed iron latticework also captures attention. In general, close-up shots of patterns in architecture help a viewer see iconic attractions with fresh eyes.

     

    (Courtesy Kimber Brooks/myBudgetTravel)
  45. 3rd Most Photographed City: San Francisco.
    Landmark:
    Union Square.
    Standard Shot:
    A wide-angle view of Union Square from the Macy's Building.

    (Courtesy Tony the Misfit/Flickr)
  46. Tip: Less is more. A close-up photo can sometimes be as powerful as a wide-angle one. As Belgian fashion designer Dries Van Noten once said: "It's more interesting to have just a picture of a small detail. Then you can dream all the rest around it." Here, a tight shot of a sculpture in the square takes that advice to heart.

    (Courtesy Phil Whitehouse/Flickr)
  47. 2nd Most Photographed City: London, U.K.
    Landmark: Trafalgar Square.
    Standard Shot: A wide-angle shot of the National Gallery and St. Martin-in-the-Fields church.

    (Courtesy Thomas Euler/Flickr)
  48. Tip: Shift direction. Tilt your lens down to get some surprising texture in the foreground of your shot. Here, the photographer juxtaposed an urban icon, St. Martin-in-the-Fields church, with the surface of Trafalgar Square fountain. (In case you were curious, the tree stumps in this photo were part of an exhibition that warned about rain-forest deforestation.)

    (Courtesy Robert Moore/Flickr)
  49. 1st Most Photographed City: New York.
    Landmark: Empire State Building.
    Standard Shot:
    The view of the Empire State Building from the street below.

    (Courtesy Bernt Rostad/Flickr)
  50. Tip: Broaden your perspective. Photographing an expected sight from an unexpected place can add a lot to your photo. To get this shot, head 16 blocks north and up 70 floors to the Top of the Rock Observation Deck in Rockefeller Center, where you'll get the best view of the Empire State Building—along with a 360-degree panorama of the city.

    (Courtesy Daniel Schwen/Wikimedia Commons)

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