In this article, I will share with you some tips about travel photography.
After spending a year doing travel photography in India, I discovered that it isn’t about traveling physically, it’s about making the viewer travel virtually to your images. Travel image need to have sense of place and time. You can achieve this by shooting in your own city, street, or neighborhood.
If I were from Delhi and shot some images of the Taj Mahal in Agra, or if I were from Agra itself and I shot images of the Taj Mahal, both of those will be considered travel images if they have sense of place or time. Just try to compose an photo so the viewer visually travels to your image. Make him feel that he already went to this place through your image or that he wants to go there in real life.
You don’t need to get an airline ticket to another country to make travel photography. You don’t need to take a train to another city to do, travel photography. But of course when you do travel to another country or city, your energy and passion increase because of the diverse culture and tradition and the fact that your eye is impressed by the new subjects.
#1 Avoiding cliché shots
It’s important to avoid cliché shots in travel photography. Before buying my flight ticket to India, I decided to avoid all popular cliché images of India which are pictures of the Taj Mahal, a train window, Holi Festival, camels of Pushkar, Rajasthani portraits, and portraits of people with wrinkles. I wanted to shoot something different, I wanted to come back to my country with new frames that aren’t common to viewers eyes.
#2 Approaching people
Being a foreign travel photographer means that half of the people you will meet will welcome you and be kind because they appreciate and like foreigners. The other half won’t allow you to photograph them because they won’t be sure about how you will use their images.
There are several ways to approach people abroad:
If you know the local language, it will be very easy for you to up go to your subject, introduce yourself, explain why you want to photograph them and how you will use the photos.
If you only speak English, you can have a guide or translator with you. I don’t recommend this because it will attract attention of people and some may feel that there is something serious in taking their image and they may refuse.
You can shoot candids and never make direct eye contact with your subject. Do not give an alert that you are photographing, and hide yourself behind the camera.
You can shoot without permission in a candid way with making direct eye contact, and smile to the subject and after taking the picture. Show them the image and tell them that they are beautiful and ask them to smile. Your eye contact and smile can be the permission. This is the best way!
When you take portraits, make sure you have some of your images printed to show to your subject to help explain what are you doing and how they will look in your photographs.
Click one image and show them the pictures on your camera. They will be pleased because many people don’t know that their image can appear in camera.
#3 Enter the culture
- Wear local clothes to seem local and attract less attention and to show appreciation for the culture of the country.
- Learn the greeting gesture if they have one.
- Learn basics words of the language like; hello, please and thank you. People will be happy that you appreciate their language.
- If you will visit the place again, try to print their image and give it to them as souvenir, it will be a valuable gift.
- Smaller cameras and lenses will be make you more invisible as a photographer and you will look more like an amateur.
- Remember that when you photograph someone, you take part of his soul (many believe this), so you need to appreciate the people you photograph and be kind to them.
I believe that the step of research is as important as the shooting itself.
Research where are you going. For example, if you will travel to Delhi, you need to know everything about Delhi.
- What are the most famous places for tourism in Delhi?
- What are the most famous places for photography in Delhi?
- Learn about the lesser known places for photography in Delhi by asking local photographers.
This will help you explore new places because in every city you will discover places that have never been photographed before.
You need to know about the famous iconic places before visiting your destination. Then you need to research how photographers normally shoot them, so you are able to compose a shot in a different way and be creative.
#5 Manage your time
Don’t waste any hour without shooting, even in the harsh sun, you can take good images using light and shadow!
Wake up early during your journey, there are many scenes you will never catch except in the early morning.
Visit places twice if you have time because when you visit new place for the first time, you will be shocked and impressed as a tourist. Then when you visit again, your eyes will be adjusted to the scene so you will be able to capture images using your vision not using tourists’ eyes.
Hopefully these 5 travel photography tips will help you come home with great images from you next trip. Please share any others you have and your travel images in the comments below.