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Travel Photography Subjects: History

Travel Photography Subjects: HistoryThis may not seem much of a news flash, but every place you ever visit has a history before you got there. While not a news flash, it’s often easy to forget this concept when traveling. If traveling to a place for the first time, everything is new, even the old stuff.

Most cities are born again and again. Entire countries as well. Complacency leads us to believe there have always been 195 countries on this planet. Yet, only 50 years ago 17 countries claimed independence in Africa alone. Before then, those colonies and protectorates were ruled by various European countries. And before Europeans took over, various forms of rule and daily life existed. Life on this planet is ever changing and its history is being built every day.

When they travel, some people enjoy looking as far into an area’s past as possible. The pyramids of Egypt are a prime example. Thousands of years old, they speak of the longevity of organized society on this planet. Even more recent history is also visible across this area as the Greeks then Romans then others marched through and left a small mark here and there. Some areas are rich in history, some need a harder scratch of the surface to find.

If you are of the curious nature, do just a bit of research before heading out on your next trip. Most guide books will deliver a morsel of history and that may lead to further investigation. Do a bit of research and see if there is a historical society in the location(s) you wish to visit. Making contacts with those deeply interested in history is a great way to get a ‘new’ perspective during your travels.

Photographically speaking, shooting history takes on many forms. It may be as simple as photographing statues representing rules, thought leaders or important people of the past. It may be buildings that have stood the test of time, weather and war. A museum is an easy way to get a quick glimpse into history, both near and far.

Shooting history is slightly different than the previous topic of Modern Vs. Traditional in that history can stand by itself. Also, historical item or locations need not be considered traditional. The Roman ruins of Volubilis in Morocco (Pictured above) have little impact on the traditional way of life in that area of Africa. Yet, those ruins are a clear part of the country’s history, long before it was even a country.

Where have you found history in your travels and captured a particularly pleasing photo? Share it 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, Weather, Art, Modern Vs. Traditional, Downtown and Views.  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 last two 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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