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Travel Photography Subjects: Art

Travel Photography Subjects: ArtI realize some people out there are crazy about art and some couldn’t care less about it. I think I’m some place further away from the crazy end of the spectrum than I’d like and I often struggle with this Travel Photography Subject personally. While I love architecture (another subject for another time) and often its natural connection to the artistic impression of an area, in the past I have often not gone out of my way to photograph art.

That started to change when my daughter began traveling with me on more occasions including a trip this year to Africa. With her interest in everything I began to appreciate the high art (expensive stuff in museums) and the every day street performers, painters and sculptures. Over the past few months I’ve come to appreciate art’s place in defining a city, region or neighborhood even.

These photos are your story of your trip, thus my suggestion is to find a type of art that interests you and seek it out. Don’t worry too much about what you ‘should’ be photographing. Let’s say you end up in Paris but standing in lines and packed into crowds to view the Mona Lisa is really not how you want to spend an afternoon in the city. Fine. But what about the art in Paris interests you? A city like that is rife with art and something has to touch a cord with you. I hope.

When shooting in museums, always check for rules first. There is a wide range of practices across the globe, to say the least. Some don’t permit any photos, others don’t allow flash photography. Most won’t be happy with a tripod being deployed (which can be annoying as lighting varies widely). Be respectful of the museum and the artists’ wishes in regard to reproduction of their work and if in doubt, seek permission. A simple gesture towards your camera and pointing at the art you wish to photograph is about as simple as it gets and most any curator or staff member will understand.

Also, be mindful that many street artists and performers would appreciate a spot of cash tossed their way if you appreciate their work enough to take it home in your camera. And by the way, have I mentioned before what a great source of information street artists can be? If you’re traveling on the cheap, they often know a number of local eats that won’t break the bank.

Art is in the eye of the beholder. Or maybe that’s beauty. Both are subjective and up to you to judge what works and what doesn’t. Whatever you decide, bring back a few shots from the local art scene on your next journey.

And don’t forget to share your art photos in the comments section below.


Previous articles in the Travel Photography Subjects series include Water, Old People, Young People, Religion, Sports, Socializing, Icons, Rich, Poor, Transportation, Economy, Food, Food Preparation and Weather. These posts are not intent on telling you everything you need to do, step by step, to capture perfect, cookie-cutter pictures while traveling.  Instead, they are intent on pointing out some vital elements to capture when on the road and highlight thought provoking questions you may want to ask yourself.  My hope is they help guide you to find your own means to better expressing what your travels have meant to you and present that in the best light possible.  Be sure to subscribe to this site to receive the other nine subjects as they are posted!

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Peter West Carey
Peter West Carey

leads photo tours and workshops in Nepal, Bhutan, Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles and beyond. He is also the creator of Photography Basics – A 43 Day Adventure & 40 Photography Experiments, web-based tutorials taking curious photographers on a fun ride through the basics of learning photography.

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