Ben Schlappig OpenSkies camera
Photograph ©2008 by Brian Cohen.

11 Travel Photographs You Should Stop Taking Right Now?

ertain photographic clichés are tiring in both taking them and looking at them — right? Well, it is time to end that practice with 11 travel photographs you should stop taking right now, according to this article written by Kate Sitarz of Smarter Travel.

1. Train Tracks

train tracks in Panama
Train tracks in Panama. Photograph ©2005 by Brian Cohen.

Why is it rail-ly not a good idea to take photographs of train tracks? Why railroad someone against taking on this perspective and cause that person to be cross? Go ahead — this is your signal to tie one on and remain on track with taking photographs such as the one above if you are so inc-line-d.

2. Getting Handsy with Landmarks

Finger on Pyramid
This stupid photograph was taken at the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt. Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

“It’s time to leave the Leaning Tower, Lady Liberty, and the pyramids alone.” I agree with Sitarz that the Internet is plagued with photographs of people doing this; but they are having some fun — and what is the problem with that?

I have an idea: I think I will take a photograph of myself doing a handstand. Then, I will turn the photograph upside down and display it with a caption which proclaims that I am holding the entire planet in my two hands. Can you think of an object which is heavier than the Earth itself? What a feat of strength!

On second thought, I am not good with handstands — so I will pass; but I can hold up the planet!

One other thought: the photograph you see with the finger on the pyramid was the idea of an aggressive tout who — at the beginning of my visit to the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt, about which I still have to post a trip report with photographs — would not stop pestering me until I took that photograph, without which I would have been just fine.

3. Food

Ostrich at The Butcher Shop & Grill in Sandton, South Africa
The ostrich with chips at The Butcher Shop & Grill in Sandton, South Africa. Click on the photograph to read a review. Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

That is funny — I was just working on an article about photographing food as a result of reading this article by Alexander Bachuwa of The Points of Life regarding his confrontation with a member of the staff of an airport lounge where he was ordered to erase the pictures of food he took with his camera due to “security concerns” where photographs are not permitted inside of the lounge.

Taking photographs of food in a public place — such as a restaurant or aboard an airplane — can be intimidating when other people are watching you with looks on their faces which suggest that I need psychiatric treatment. Aside from plated food which is aesthetically pleasing, I take photographs of meals for trip reports primarily because a picture is worth a thousand words — and if you are reading an article whose topic includes food being served, I would think that you would prefer a photograph over some wordy description which may or may not do the food justice.

4. Jumping

Michael W. of Michael W Taftsville Bridge in Vermont.
Michael W. of Michael W Travels…at Taftsville Bridge in Vermont. Click on the photograph for the article pertaining to a trip report of covered bridges in Vermont. Photograph ©2012 by Michael W.

“A type of photo that I still take during trips but have been posting much less about are Jumping Pics”, my colleague Michael W. wrote in this article — which is where I first learned of the original aforementioned article — at Michael W Travels… “Jumping pics are always fun and cause many smiles. I see no need to stop taking these interesting and funny photos.”

Although I see no need for me to taking jumping pictures, I wholeheartedly agree with Michael. I will leave the commentary of jumping pictures to him…

…although he refused to jump at the General Muir restaurant in Atlanta where we indulged in dining on hamburgers.

5. Belongings from Above

Under desk
Photograph ©2016 by Brian Cohen.

“It’s unclear when it became popular to artfully and precisely lay out all of your belongings before you go on a trip and snap a photo from above”, wrote Sitarz. “It’s time to retire this minimalistic approach to showing off belongings like your expensive watch or a boarding pass to an exotic destination given that innumerable corporate brands and Instagrammers have exhausted the technique.”

You point is well taken, Kate Sitarz — so I attempted to take a photograph of belongings on a desk from below instead of from above. Can you see the items which I placed on the desk?

As you can see in the photograph shown above, that attempt failed miserably. Perhaps I should have moved the chair on the left of the photograph out of the way first — or better yet, find a glass table next time.

6. Feet

Feet on dashboard
Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

I never did understand the phenomenon of taking photographs of feet. What is that supposed to signify?

I will admit that there are rare occasions where I have taken photographs of feet — such as for this article explaining the one reason why you should keep your feet off of the dashboard of a car.

That would be an exception to the rule — no?

7. The Lone Ice Cream Cone

I’m sorry — what? Who takes photographs of a lone ice cream cone?!?

Thanks a lot, Kate Sitarz — now I can go for an ice cream cone. Make mine chocolate with sprinkles in a sugar cone. You can have the limburger cheese and liverwurst ice cream in a mustard and strawberry sauce with durian whipped cream and relish sprinkles in a burnt vanilla tuna cone.

8. Abandoned Buildings

Iguazu Falls Argentina
This is an old abandoned walkway at Iguazu Falls in Argentina. Photograph ©2005 by Brian Cohen.

“In general, abandoned building photography tends to involve a lot of heavy editing or HDR processing — turning photographs into some other art form. Deserted spots are often eerie and can produce some interesting memories, but the market for this subject is saturated.”

I should ask Kate Sitarz if the photograph of the unused walkway at Iguazu Falls in Argentina shown above counts as an abandoned building. There was no “heavy editing” or “HDR processing” involved in that photograph.

I had to laugh at the link which is found at the end of that portion of the article blatantly advertising that there are 13 eerie abandoned places you can visit — you just cannot take any photographs at them.

9. Heart-Framed Shots

Couple at Manila Bay in a heart.
A couple watches a sunset at Manila Bay in the Philippines. Photographs ©2016 by Brian Cohen.

I would never place any of the photographs I have taken into a frame which is the shape of a heart —  not even a picture of a couple at Manila Bay in the Philippines during a sunset over the water. Never.

10. Unnecessary Props

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

“Too often you’ll see a photograph and think, how did they just happen to have those chalkboards/picture frames/fancy umbrellas?” That may be correct; but —

YOW!!! How did a photograph of a spider acting like an unnecessary prop wind up in this article?!?

11. Selfie Sticks

Plaza de Mayor, Madrid
Why is this photograph of Plaza de Mayor in Madrid in this section of the article? Because this is the location of where I saw someone using a “selfie” stick for the first time. Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

“It’s not worth it. Half the time you’ve got a big hunk of metal in your shot. The other half, you’re getting your giant stick in the way of other people enjoying the scenery. And when you’re only paying attention to getting everyone and everything in the shot, chances are you’re not paying attention to the people you’re almost hitting. Get a group shot the old fashioned way: ask someone to take the photo for you. You’ll be amazed at how friendly travellers and locals are, especially if your selfie obsession has prevented you from talking to strangers for years.”

This is the first time I completely agree with Kate Sitarz in this article — although if I wanted to be in a photograph, I probably would first consider using the self timer on my camera before asking someone else to take a photograph of me with my camera.

Ironically, strangers usually come up to me and ask me to take pictures of them with their cameras — and I am only more than happy to oblige.


I believe that I will ignore what Kate Sitarz wrote when she told us about the photographs we are to stop taking right now; and continue to take the photographs which I want to take in the future…

…and if there ever was an article of the 11 articles about which writers should stop writing right now, I personally would nominate the aforementioned article written by Kate Sitarz as the first example. Her article pertaining to the ten travel skills every traveler should have was significantly better, in my opinion.

In the meantime, we live in a world where it is easier than ever to take pictures due to the advents of digital photography and the integration of cameras into personal electronic devices — and we should embrace it. No longer is film being wasted after being processed by chemicals which are potentially dangerous to the environment…

…so go ahead and take whatever photographs you want. Use them for artistic purposes. Use them for the purposes of documentation or for documentaries. Be as creative with them as you like and share them with the world…

…and if you do not want to see the photographs which Kate Sitarz is telling us to stop taking right now, then all you have to do is simply ignore them — do not look at them and move on to something else.

All photographs except where noted ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

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