Paris Stock Photo Expedition - Day 2: How to Photograph a Popular Landmark without Hordes of People

Gustave Eiffel did not design the Eiffel Tower. He was, however, smart enough to fund it in exchange for all of the income from it in the following 20 years.

Here we are, 123 years later, and it’s the most-visited monument in the world -- and quite possibly the most recognizable landmark anywhere. Millions of people visit each year.

For stock photography, this is both good and bad.

Bonnie, here, coming to you on Day 2 of our Stock Photo Expedition with Lise Gagne and Shelly Perry in Paris, France.

When photo buyers look for images of Paris, you can bet most of them are looking for ones that include the “Iron Lady.”

To take saleable travel photos for stock, all you need to do is get a couple of models, put them out in front of a big icon, and you’re almost guaranteed to take some saleable photos.

But that still leaves one little issue for us: Millions of people.

Since you can’t have recognizable people in your stock photos, how do you shoot around the crowds?

Here are five ways we did it, with some of my favorite attendee photos from the day:

** 1. Get in close. Shoot your models up-close, and position them so that you crop out all other people, still including the icon. You don’t need to include the whole thing to get your point across.

Elizabeth Coughlan


Lynn Michels

** 2. Move your models to a ledge or somewhere above other people, making the crowd so small that they become unrecognizable.


Caroline Maryan


Eunice Kern

** 3. Use a shallow depth of field. You see there are people behind our models, but they’re so blurry that you can’t recognize any of them. To do this, use a low f-stop number.


Caroline Maryan

** 4. Make silhouettes. Position yourself so that the light is coming from behind, and shoot in silhouette. The people in your photo won’t be recognizable, because they’ll be too dark. Your models might not be recognizable, either, but if you do it right, it can be very striking and artistic.


Valerie Wickland

** 5. Turn the people into ghosts. If you use a long shutter speed, you can turn the people in the background of your photo into “ghosts.” They’ll still look like people, but they’ll be too blurred to be recognizable. You can do this by using a very small aperture, and/or using a neutral density filter on your camera to block light and use a longer shutter speed.

In this case, the models are blurred, too, because they’re moving... but you can also ask your models to stand very still while people in the background move.


Murial Erasmus

It’s about time for my daily Nutella-banana crepe, so I’m off. Tomorrow we’re splitting into even smaller groups to shoot indoors in our Parisian apartment... and out along the Seine.

Can’t wait to see what we get!

[Editor’s Note: Learn more about how you can turn your pictures into cash in our free online newsletter The Right Way to Travel.  Sign up here today and we’ll send you a new report, Selling Photos for Cash: A Quick-Start Guide, completely FREE.]

4 responses to “Paris Stock Photo Expedition - Day 2: How to Photograph a Popular Landmark without Hordes of People”

  1. Myron T Babler

    The procedures in which to remove the extra visitors sounds quite do able, I am not sure how to on my Cannon T3i but with a bit of experimenting I am sure I could pull it off, on my last trip to Paris I was shooting film and I got a ton of sell able shots of the modern art museum I have know idea where those might be, but now they would be 25 years old or more. Oh, and while in and around the Iron Lady watch out for the children they will run up to you yelling in some other language while someone near you is trying to pick your pocket or camera bag.

  2. Jean

    Awesome article. Best I've read on "removing" people from photographs to create shots suitable for stock.

  3. Joe Mernagh

    A great article, concise and yet with some great tips. Enjoy the rest of the trip Bonnie

  4. Susan Birkenshaw

    Bonnie - these are all great tips but what really strikes me is that your writing is glowing with enthusiasm now - You've come a long way my friend - S

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