I recently had a friend take me through the shots that they took on their latest trip away (all 600 of them) and was amazed to see how many of his shots were of largely the same thing – buildings. Not only that all the buildings were photographed in much the same way in terms of framing and composition.
Now to give him credit – he had been traveling in Europe where there are some marvelous examples of architecture, but I came away from the experience of viewing his shots wondering a few questions that I would have thought his photos might have answered like:
• Who did you travel with?
• Where did you stay?
• What did you eat?
• Who did you meet? etc
There’s nothing wrong with photographing buildings, but unfortunately exclusively photographing any one type of thing on a trip can leave the end results of your travel album looking a little one dimensional.
I made this mistake on my first overseas trip to Malaysia as a 16 year old on a trip with a school band. On my return I showed my shots to my parents who nicely pointed out to me that I didn’t have a single shot of myself or any of the people I travelled (not a single shot of the band playing. I’d been so amazed by the different landscapes and buildings that I didn’t take any shots that would personally mean anything to me years later.
These days as I travel I spend time each day reviewing the shots that I’ve taken. I often do in the hotel room at night (or on a bus between places) and as I do I purposely analyze what types of shots I’ve taken that day and more importantly ‘what’s missing’ from the day I’ve had.
Some possible shots that you might like to include in a photographic travel diary might include:
• Local People (at work and play)
• Travel Companions
• Food and Drink
• Market places/Shops
• Street Scenes
• Local Written Language/Street signs
• Shots of yourself (alone and with others)
Really the sky is the limit.
Also keep in mind that you can take a lot of these shots in many different ways. I personally try to fill my travel album with lots of close-ups of different aspects of my trip (in addition to the ‘normal’ travel shots one takes). So pictures of the market which zoom in on food items, or pictures of buildings that zoom in on the inscriptions on the tiles around the front door.
It’s these close ups that I find people viewing my photos are drawn to most. The shots of buildings are still in the album, but they are punctuated by feature shots that tell a story of the places that I’ve visited.
Update: Learn from a Pro Travel Photographer in our New Guide
Since publishing this post we’ve put together an eBook specifically on Travel photography called Transcending Travel: a Guide to Captivating Travel Photography.