How to get clean instagram shots in super touristy locations

One of the things that can be really annoying when trying to take pictures in a touristy location, is of course, the tourists. I guess it’s alright if you’re doing street photography or taking a picture of a building, but if you’re trying to take a picture of yourself it can be super difficult if there’s tons of people in the background.

Although sometimes it adds characters, this is one of the questions I’ve been asked many times on Instagram – how do I get pictures from some of the most Instagrammed locations with absolutely NO ONE in my frame? Magic right?  Here are some ways in which I achieve it:

Go there at odd hours

It sounds pretty obvious, but you can NEVER underestimate how important it is to reach a location well before other people have reached there, if you want to clean shots (and for me personally I enjoy the place more). For example, Plitvice National Park in Croatia gets over 1 million visitors a year – not only is it a hassle to walk around when the tourists come swarming up your fucking armpit, it’s also next to impossible to take decent long exposures on the walkway because there are hundreds of people walking past.

And if you are going to a publicly open location, try and reach there at least 30 minutes before sunrise so you can figure out the place a bit before the sun comes out (I often get out around an hour before just for the fun of it). There are always much less people in a location during sunrise compared to sunset. Some exceptions might be locations like Angor Wat in Cambodia where tons of people come to watch the sunrise. However, the earlier you go the better chance you have of owning the place.

Here is a picture that I took of myself in the early hours of the morning in Lisbon. This place called Pink Street is super heavily photographed – when I went, there was no one. Unfortunately I couldn’t be bothered brushing out the trash on the side before uploading, but that’s because I went before the cleaners even came in for their morning shift.

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Use the Spot Removal tool in Lightroom

This is probably the second most important thing. Though I don’t use Photoshop to edit pictures, I get by pretty well with this problem using Adobe Lightroom (an editing software). If there are a few people here and there in the background that I want to get rid of, I zoom into the picture and try as best as possible to remove them using the spot removal tool. There are two options with this – clone or heal, and you can choose the opacity of both. I generally use the clone option so that I exactly replicate areas that have been covered by people as far as possible. Then when you zoom out, if you’ve been precise enough you really can’t tell there was anyone there in the first place!