The Hokusai Technique for travel photography

This is probably my best tip for travel photography.            

When we travel we usually go to see famous places and we like to get our own shots of them. That’s OK for personal mementos but it rarely gives us good photos. Everyone has seen hundreds of photos of that place or thing before. The professionals have the time and money to do their research thoroughly and make sure they are in exactly the right place at the right moment with the best light. You are competing  with their shots for impact and everyone who sees your shot will subconsciously be comparting yours with what they have seen many times before. The Hokusai technique is your answer.

Have a look at the woodblock prints of this Japanese master. He does Mt Fuji over and over but every print he makes has oomph.

What Hokusai does is to look for foregrounds and framings for the mountain. The mountain is there, we recognize it but we don’t just do a picture of it.

Below are some examples of my work using this technique.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa (an old shot of mine from 1974.)


The Taj Mahal


 The Eifel Tower. This is a little different, I went looking for small details and unusual angles. The first is something tourists rarely notice, Beneath the lift is a full size model of the driver and original equipment that operated the lift.


Michelangelo's David


Uluru. This shot is no longer possible, the sign has gone and you are no longer allowed to park in this area around the base.


 OK, you get the idea. Find your famous scene, then start looking for the same thing from a completely different angle, or with people doing something unexpected with the famous scene behind.

If you have some shots like this and would be happy to see them published here, send them to us and we will put some of them up in the next issue. Contact Mike here