We feature some of the brightest Instagram storytellers in the Passion Passport community through our Instagram Spotlight series. This week, Stephen Di Donato (@sdidonato) shares his secrets to compelling photography in any place.

Outside Looking In

Montreal has an abundance of beautiful and colorful neighborhoods, filled with Victorian homes, multifamily triplexes with internal staircases, and some of the oldest banks in Canada. I try to shoot from different angles, at various times of the day, to get unique photos. I especially love photographing straight on, you get a sense of the character and the harmony of colors of a building.

The easiest way to photograph these facades is on partially cloudy days as it gives you more flexibility to edit your photos later without having blown-out highlights. If it’s a rainy day, you can add people holding umbrellas as they walk by to add a sense of scale. In the dead of winter, the most prominent season in Montreal, brave the cold and get out on the morning after a snowstorm. Chances are, the snowplows haven’t passed yet and you will get to feature a beautiful dusting of snow.

Inside Out

Indoor architecture is harder to notice since it’s less visible to most of the public. Before visiting an area, I typically consult Google Maps images to find something that interests me. Unlike outdoor photography, a sunny day will always help you get a better shot, as some places can be poorly lit.

I try to explore different angles, even if that means holding my phone over open staircases or reaching around awkwardly shaped railings.

West of the US

Finding beautiful scenery in the Western United States is easy, and I’m sure that’s why so many people go there. The hard part is photographing the beautiful scenery well.

Most days, the sun is out with little to protect your subjects from harsh sunlight and shadows. The best is to wake up before sunrise to catch the first morning rays, or at golden hour right before sunset.

Dividing Lines

When done right, symmetry in photography can a be great technique to create a pleasing and calming composition. Finding dividing lines in the world can make even the most mundane objects feel special.

Montreal homes are often colorful and instantly give you a dividing line. It’s great to compare the lighter color with its darker counterparts.