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Travel Photography – Shooting the Venice Carnival

It’s almost as if Venice was built to be photographed and there’s no better time than the Venice Carnival. Follow these 6 simple tips and you’ll end up with some fantastic shots.

1. Pre-visualise your shot

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Being able to compose your shot in your mind is one of the best ways to making your images better. I had an idea before I even arrived in Venice that I wanted to shoot an image with this composition – a masked person looking at the camera through the mirror. I tried over several days to create this image using different models and finally captured this moment. So think ahead and try to compose your shot before you even lift your camera and your end result will be far more impressive.

2. Direct your model

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The wonderful thing about the Venice Carnival is that it’s like being in a giant studio because you have a host of ready and willing models who will pose for your images. But rather than just snapping away, try to direct them to where you want them in order to obtain the perfect shot. For this photo I moved the woman away from the window on the right so that the shot would be balanced. Don’t worry if you don’t speak their language, usually a smile and hand movements does the trick.

3. Look beyond the obvious

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It might sound obvious, but to make your images stand out you need to look at new ways of capturing popular places or objects. I started taking shots of a performer on a podium and realised that the composition looked ordinary, at which point I saw someone taking a picture of the performer on his phone. It took several attempts to time the shot correctly so that it was in focus but what I got was a much more interesting image than if I was to take a shot of just the performer on this podium.

4. Get up close

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With all that colour and detail in the costumes, why waste any space showing the background? Photography allows us to really zoom in and capture details which we wouldn’t normally see. You’ll need a telephoto lens, but then you can zoom in and let the subject fill the entire frame and you’ll end up with a beautifully colourful image. Just make sure that the eyes are in focus and look sharp otherwise your image will look soft and unappealing.

5. Be patient

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Unfortunately sometimes there’s no way around this. To get a great travel shot you need to allow yourself enough time to often revisit the same place again and again. I had walked past these two women numerous times over the course of the afternoon but the direction of the light was never right. They were in shadow the first few times I saw them and I wanted to frame them using the shadow cast from the arch of the columns. By late afternoon the light was just in the right place to get the perfect shot.

6. Head to the backstreets

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Remember that there is more to Venice than St. Marks Square. During the Carnival there are celebrations everywhere, so head to the quieter backstreets to capture an alternative to the masks and costumes around the busy, famous landmarks. I was heading back from the Jewish Quarter when I heard music and dancing in one of the squares where I got some fantastic and alternative shots.

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Kav Dadfar
Kav Dadfar

is a professional travel photographer, writer and photo tour leader based in the UK. His images are represented by stock agencies such as 4Corners Images and Robert Harding World Imagery and they have been used by clients such as Condé Nast, National Geographic, Lonely Planet, and many others. Kav is also the co-founder of That Wild Idea, a company specializing in photography workshops and tours both in the UK and around the world. Find out more at That Wild Idea.

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