Photographing the Smaller things in Life when You Travel

Photographing the Smaller things in Life when You Travel

StatueAn observations of fellow travelers that I made on my last trip was that most of them seemed to focus on the ‘big picture’.

When the bus would pull up at a tourist destination they always seemed to step as far back from the scene before them in an attempt to fit as much as possible into the shot. This happened whether the scene was a landscape, a building or almost any other subject.

The results of their strategy was that they ended up with lots of great pictures of distant things.

One of the aspects of travel that I enjoy to photograph the most is the ‘little things’.

While I do enjoy the beauty and challenge of capturing the grandness of the massive architectural structures that seem to be a magnet to tourists I’m aware that much of the beauty of architecture is often in the details.

A prime example of this are the many cathedrals that we saw in Europe on our last trip. They obviously have a sense of awe and mystery associated with them as a result of their size but take a closer look and a photographic wonderland reveals itself ranging from fine details in stain-glass windows, to the amazing faces of gargoyles, to tomb stones with interesting inscriptions, to the pattern of tiles in mosaics, to wrought iron door knockers and fittings to the detail in statues, crucifixes and paintings.

Similarly the details of many other types of buildings and structures reveal other small details that make them what they are and that often say a lot about the region you’re traveling in.


I find that taking these close ups of the small details add a new layer of depth and interest to a travel photo album. Combine them with the ‘big picture’ shots you take cleverly and the results can be quite breath taking.

The same principle can be extended to all aspects of travel photography. Zooming in on the food you eat, the signs you see and the objects you find in shops can all produce the same sort of impact.

Keep in mind that to get these types of shots will mean you either need a good long zoom lens or that you’ll need to use your feet to zoom in close. Attempt to fill your frame as much as possible for this type of photography.

Probably the hardest part about this type of photography if you’re not used to it is to remember to break out of your ‘big picture’ shooting and to look for the details. It can take a shift in thinking and being quite intentional about it but it’s amazing how much you’ll find to photograph if you only look for it.

Once you’re in this frame of mind you’ll never look at the world the same again!

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Darren Rowse is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals. He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.