In all truthfulness capturing the place is my main objective when I have camera in hand. There is something very satisfying in framing pieces of what I see and capturing it for future viewing.
What is the history?
Many of the places we visit are quite historical. I live in a country whose history is relatively new when compared to Europe, the Baltic, or the Far East. The ruins of Rome were particularly amazing. At the Coliseum the most striking moment I captured was as we first entered and saw a cross in front of us. From there the story unfolded.
The outdoor shots are easier to capture than indoors mainly because of the condition and age of the artifacts you find in museums or places such as the palaces in St. Petersburg. Unfortunately too many people have not learned how to take pictures without a flash and have made it necessary for all the rest of us to replace the lens cap and just view with our eyes. If you are afforded the opportunity to take pictures of artifacts, be sure that you know how to turn off that flash. There is an off switch on smartphones and tablets too. The bright flashes of so many tourist cameras truly do fade colors and affect the preservation of these gems of history (as does reaching out and touching--another pet peeve but I digress).
Capture the facts.
I can not retain all the information that is given on a tour or even available to read as we explore places. Often I will take pictures of the commentary that is available on posted boards that explain what you are seeing or the history of the place where you stand. Later I can use my software to enlarge the pictures and gather the information I need or want to remember. I love digital photography!
Ah, the beauty!
Of course some places you visit simply because they are beautiful, scenic, amazing, spectacular, etc. A lot of that cannot be captured in pictures completely but at least a picture will remind you of it. Landscapes of immense size are often difficult to realistically portray. A good idea is to put something into the foreground that will give you a point of reference. The same is true for large objects. Try to get something into the picture that will help to show the size of the object.
If you are adept at some camera settings, take more than one shot and try some different settings. It will take a little more time sorting them out later but one of the group might give you a better color or shadowing or clarity. The professor of my photography class used to say "If it's worth one shot, it's worth six." And that was before digital! He was always telling us this day would come.
Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder is so true in photography. Do you have any tricks for capturing the places you visit?