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Travel Photography Subjects: Economy

Economy The economy.  It’s a hot topic whether it’s a boom year or a bust.  Every country on the planet has many forms of commerce that power its society.  To get a feel for the local economy you may need to do a bit of digging.  You can take a multilevel approach to capturing how your travel destination exchanges money and goods.  Start with where you are.  If it’s a tourist area the pickings will be easy; street carts, souvenir shops, fast food restaurants, people peddling their wares.  And if that’s where your comfort level ends, feel free to skip to one of the other travel photography subjects listed below.

If you’re feeling the need for more of the picture (pun intended), start expanding outwards beyond the area around your hotel.  Look for fueling stations and grocery stores and note prices.  Wander along busy streets get a feel for how much traffic is pedestrian and how much is commerce.  Is there a well organized goods distribution system with trains, cargo ships and freight trucks or are things more haphazard in a one-off fashion?  What kind of goods are being moved around the country?  Are they made local or imported?

Not satisfied with just wandering around and observing?  Find a local industrial area.  This can be a fishing marina, steel mills, textiles or any number of other operations available in the local community that produce goods or services.  It can also be the financial district of larger cities or technology, entertainment or dining enclaves.  You may need to be cautious around certain industrial areas (power plants and very private companies come to mind).

These are just a few of the possibilities when looking to document the economy of an area you may be visiting.  The list can go on and on, but the important aspect of this travel photography subject is to step outside your normal way of viewing a destination and scratch a little beneath the surface.  From prosperous to poverty stricken, a country’s economy will likely have a unique feel, even while it may be similar to its neighbor.  It may be subsisting upon mostly internal trade on scant natural resources, or it may be an exporting power house.

While you will most certainly have an active, if minor, role in the economy during your travels, take a step back and find a way to communicate with friends and family back home what drives your destination’s economy.  And then feel free to share what you have found in the comments section below

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Previous articles in the Travel Photography Subjects series include Water, Old People, Young People, Religion, Sports, Socializing, Icons, Rich, Poor and Transportation. 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 ask 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 15 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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