Musings

Capturing Philadelphia: Essential Photography Tips


Philadelphia is one of the most underrated cities in the country, it is a culturally rich city bursting with creativity and history. And as I’ve already mentioned in one of my iterations of Philly Finds, it also has great food thanks to the multitude of different cultures coexisting all in one area.

Despite how great Philly is, it’s easy to take it for granted. Thankfully, there are always newer and better ways to experience this city, whether you’re a local or a tourist – one great way is through the lens of a camera.

To help you out with this, I’ve put together some tips to help you get the most out of capturing Philly’s wonderful sights. I understand that not everyone has the eye or skills for photography, which is why I’ve included tips for both beginners and photography enthusiasts.

Do Your Research

The subject of the photographs can often make or break them. Luckily, Philly is full of great spots to take photos of if you know where to look. The city even made it on National Geographic’s selection of the 25 travel destinations that you need to visit in 2020.

One area that you’ll have to check out is the “Rocky Steps.” Popularized by the film Rocky, the steps leading up to the entrance of the Philadelphia Museum of Art as well as the museum’s facade is a great place to take photos. Not only is the location iconic, but the architecture and design of the place are visually stunning as well. Try to go here during the off-hours (early in the morning) to get a better chance of taking photos without interruptions.

Bring the Right Equipment

While a standard camera is often enough to get the job done, sometimes you’ll need a little more to get better shots. This is why you should bring the proper gear. This is especially true if the spots that you’ll be going to are vastly different from each other. There will be a piece of camera equipment for just about every scenario. Adorama’s selection of photography gear is a testament to just how advanced and diverse cameras, lenses, and even their accessories have become. Whether you’re shooting a landscape or shooting more intimate subjects, the right kind of lens will only enhance the overall quality of your photographs and allow you to create the most unique shots. One great application of this is when you’re trying to take picture of the Reading Terminal Market.

The Reading Terminal Market is historic, as it’s known for having vendor stalls that have been there for decades. To truly capture the bustling market, you’ll need to use a wide lens to get as many of the stalls in one picture. The deep depth of field will allow you to capture as many elements as possible in one shot.

Don’t Ignore the People

A city is more than buildings and tourist attractions. What makes a place truly great and unique are the people that live there. It’s the individuals that inject it with culture and character, so it makes sense to turn these people into the stars of your photographs.

The best way to get photographs of people is to ask. There’s no easy way around this, so you may find this part difficult if you’re shy or suffer from social anxiety. Just calmly approach someone, introduce yourself, and ask if you can take their picture. If they say yes, then feel free to snap a few photos of them. If they refuse, politely thank them for their time and move on. Now, a good way to find people is by walking around the city. This shouldn’t be a problem as Philly Mag reported that Walk Score listed the city as one of the most walkable cities in the country. Capturing photographs of everyday people will help you capture the essence of the city.

Happy shooting!

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