Everybody has a camera and can call themselves a photographer. Last year over a trillion photos were captured, that’s a one with 12 zero’s on the end. If you can’t image just how large this number is, think of it in seconds. A trillion seconds is the same as 31 thousand years. Travel is also becoming cheaper and more people are escaping to exotic destinations than ever before. If everyone is a travel photographer, then what can you do to differentiate yourself, and give your images a professional touch?
Often more that one photo is required to tell a story of place. Look out for roadsigns and displays as well as people involved in day-to-day activities. If you have a travel zoom make sure you take a wide shot that includes the landscape, then zoom in to capture significant details. If you shoot with primes, don’t be afraid to change lenses, or use your feet to get the wider view!
It is hard to think how a photographer could succeed in travel or street photography without some skill in capturing people. If time allows aim to get more than just a head shot. Hands, feet, wrinkles, muscles and lines all tell a story.
I was taught the environmental portrait by my friend Glenn Guy, who runs the wonderful website www.travelphotographyguru.com. I kicked and fought against this style of imagery, preferring the candid image. However, the style has slowly won me over. The environmental portrait is a collaborative image between the photographer and the subject. Permission must be sought from the subject for this photo. The image should capture the person in his or her environment, which could be work, home or play. As the photographer has gained permission, they can take a little more time over composition and light.
Is there any genre of photography that cannot benefit from a stronger understanding of composition and light? Most successful photos will adhere to one guideline or another, even when you are trying to break the rules! When traveling take into account the time of day and the direction of the sun. Mornings and evenings are the prime times for photography. However, the harsh shadows of mid-day can also create effective photos.
When traveling it is easy to focus on the major tourist attractions. Yet is is often the smaller, domestic buildings that tell a story with greater clarity. The vernacular deals with the functional, domestic architecture. These buildings will reflect the environment and cultures of a surrounding area. Weather will play an important role in the construction of these buildings, as well as the materials they are made from. In many countries religion will play an important part in the design of a house, look for symbols to ward off spirits, or shrines used for worship.
Do you really need to travel long distances for travel photography? I would argue that you don’t. One of my learning pathways took part though a travel photography course. Many of the assignments on this course had to be completed during times when travel was not a viable option. It can be hard to predict what is in the eye of the beholder of a photograph, but a final image gives no clue as to the home of the photographer.
Street Photography creates its own skill set, and time spent pacing the sidewalk is time well spent. Travel Photography makes additional demands. It is always worth capturing a powerful cityscape. Seek local knowledge, as there are always secret spots that will enable you to create something a little different. The above image involved dodging a security guard and climbing 50 floors of a building still under construction. A tripod was needed and is a tool well worth packing (buy a light one!). In addition to a tripod, make sure to bring a selection of lenses.
As a Street Photographer, I will spend weeks with a 50mm, or 35mm lens stuck to my camera. This changes when I travel longer distances. Travel photography is about telling a story, and using a different lens will add a new perspective. One way to ring the changes is to have an extreme wide angle lens, while a focal length of 50 – 85mm can be useful for portraiture.
Get lost, but in a nice way of course. There are guidebooks for every city under the sun. However, guidebooks will always lead to paths well trodden. Go down that alley, climb those dusty stairwells and hangout with the locals sipping coffee. Avoid the tourist traps. Always look and see what the locals are doing, where they are going, and imagine what they see through their eyes.
This contrasts with No’1. However, while you don’t have to travel far to be a travel photographer – it helps certainly helps! Travel opens the mind and will add to your personal wealth. And here I refer to wealth in terms of experience, as financially travel is quite hard on the pocket. Pack as light as you can and wear sturdy shoes. Talk with locals, eat street food and find your own story.
That’s all for today folks. Keep Clicking. Chris