Facebook Pixel The Only Tip You’ll Need for Creating a More Interesting and Well-Rounded Set of Images of Any Destination or Subject

The Only Tip You’ll Need for Creating a More Interesting and Well-Rounded Set of Images of Any Destination or Subject

Work from a shot list.

History - Ramses II Closeup - Abu Simbel, Egypt - Copyright 2010 Ralph Velasco.jpg

As photographers, we tend to have an interest in one or two genres of photography, perhaps for you it’s people, landscapes or food. It’s perfectly fine, and highly recommended, to specialize in a certain area so you get really proficient at that type of imagery.  However, as a travel photographer looking to bring back an overall cultural portrait of a place, one that tells a complete story for the viewers of my work, I have to be a generalist, and that means bringing back solid images of all different types.

Self Portrait - Camel Ride - Near Aswan, Egypt - Copyright 2010 Ralph Velasco.jpg

We’ve all sat through a fellow photographer’s presentation from his or her latest trip to [insert location here], and although the images may have been good, or even fantastic, after the 10th or 12th landscape in a row, enough is enough, right?  The idea is to keep the viewer’s interest by presenting images that show a variety of the distinctive characteristics of a destination, or even a particular subject.

Color - Colorful Dies - Near Aswan, Egypt - Copyright 2010 Ralph Velasco.jpg

In a class I teach called Capturing the Essence of a Place, I discuss the importance of adhering to a fundamental principle of photography, the idea of working from a shot list.  A shot list provides a framework for returning with a well-rounded portfolio of images that conveys the true feeling of what it was like to actually be there, and it’s made up of categories.  I’ve come up with over 50 wide-ranging categories, just some of which include People, Landmarks, Details, Culture & Customs, Establishing Shots, Everyday Life, Fashion & Style, History, Humor, and many more.

Fashion and Style - Lady in Pink - Cairo, Egypt - Copyright 2010 Ralph Velasco.jpg

Because I got tired of carrying around cumbersome pen and paper, and later using my iPhone’s Notes app for creating shot lists while out in the field leading tours or traveling on my own, I decided to create the My Shot Lists for Travel app for iPhone and iPod touch (it works on the iPad, but it’s not currently optimized for that device).  At US 99 cents, it’s a great tool for organizing and tracking a shot list, and it’s customizable for any destination or subject. It also comes complete with sample images and descriptions for each category.

Contrasts - Pyramids, Bus and Van - Giza, Egypt - Copyright 2010 Ralph Velasco.jpg

The user can take advantage of the device’s internal camera capabilities and My Data feature to capture images from within the app.  He or she can add notes to each image, such as the exact location it was shot, best time of day, equipment suggestions, contacts, and more. There’s also a Challenge Me feature that’s activated by shaking the device or tapping the Challenge Me button.  Doing so adds a new category to the top of the current shot list.  The idea is to push the user out of his or her comfort zone and to get them thinking about categories that aren’t on their shot list, as a sort of test or personal assignment to be on the lookout for those types of photo opportunities that day or week.

Everyday Life - Old Man in Doorway in Alexandria, Egypt - Copyright 2010 Ralph Velasco.jpg

As a travel photography instructor, my main goal is to help anyone with a camera to bring back a more varied and interesting set of images from their travels, whether venturing around the world or around the corner.  The idea is to return with a compelling set of images that will then be a solid basis for interesting slideshows, books, albums and websites, however it is that the user is presenting his or her photography.  We’re storytellers, so be sure to portray a complete story of whatever it is that you’re photographing.

Icons - Obelisk and Moon at Karnak - Luxor, Egypt - Copyright 2010 Ralph Velasco.jpg

Now, think outside the camera!

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Ralph Velasco
Ralph Velasco

is a travel photography instructor and international guide who has led trips to Morocco, Bhutan, Nepal, Cambodia, Spain, Central Europe, Mexico and Egypt, plus ten fully-licensed People-to-People programs to Cuba. His latest eBook is called Essence of a Place: A Travel Photographer’s Guide to Using a Shot List for Capturing Any Destination. Ralph is the creator of the My Shot Lists for Travel app for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch®.

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