Facebook Pixel Travel Photography Subjects: Modern Vs. Traditional

Travel Photography Subjects: Modern Vs. Traditional

Image: Modern Vs. Traditional in Málaga, Spain

Modern Vs. Traditional in Málaga, Spain

On a personal note, I am currently in a contrasts phase in my photography. This means I like to see how things butt against others different than them. Old and new, rich and poor, youth and the elderly. Those types of contrasts. I look for it when I travel and that contrast is the next topic in our Travel Photography Subjects series: Modern vs. Traditional.

Modern vs. Traditional, to me, means more than simply highlighting new and old things. While this is a large part of it, it winds through travel more than most of us realize. Often when we think of far off lands, the image that comes to mind is the last known reference to it. This can be something we saw on TV or something we learned in a history class, long ago in its own right.

That ideal in our mind is often based on the very human assumption that things don’t change. When we look at our lives from day to day, we don’t see a large change. But over the decades hair styles come and go, fashion changes and we look back on what we used to wear and often have a good laugh. So it is too with any given city or place. Many people heading to Venice in Italy expect to see the canals clogged with wooden boats and while they are prevalent, there are also a number of outboard motors and newer hulls in the canals. Sometimes this even disturbs travelers who are accustomed to thinking of a certain land in a certain way.

The key to travel is to keep an open mind. Look for the classic scenes you might be fantasizing in your head, but also look for the new. How do the two abut each other? How do they blend? Why have they evolved so differently?

I often feel a bit cheated when friends bring back pictures of a place like Peru and only show me what is ‘expected’. Llamas, Quechua ladies walking cobblestone streets, Machu Picchu. I like those shots, but what else can you tell me about a place? They do have modern life in Peru. There is a McDonlads in the Plaze de Armas at Cusco. Skyscrapers craft Lima’s skyline. And modern art has an influence.

Show me the contrast. Show me the traditional scenes but also dabble in the modern, together in the same shot. No, really, I mean show me in the comment 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 and Art.  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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