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Travel Photography Subjects: Rich

090807-174032-1982 This post is number eight of twenty one subjects that will help you focus when on your next journey and you wish to bring back a well rounded story of where you were.  If you’re just going on vacation and only want pictures of yourself by the pool sipping boat drinks, then you can probably skip this one.  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.

The Rich.  Such a broad classification for a group.  And it’s highly relative to where one stands in a society. Or where societies stand in relation to each other.  It’s a fact that some individuals in a society always have more than others and when those individuals gain far more than their countrymen, we tend to label them as rich.  It’s hard to pick any one defining point when someone becomes rich; is it $100,000USD? $1,000,000? Or more?  Each region, country and neighborhood even, will have its own definition.

The key as a traveler looking for representation of the rich in a country is to look for classic hallmarks you may be used to (i.e. In my Western culture sense, that’d be expensive cars, lavish clothes, large houses and a lot of jewelry, to name a few) and then dive deeper into the society to find what’s important locally.  Most of the time wealth will be material and fairly easy to spot.  Even if not rich by your home county’s standards, a tribesman may be rich by his own standards based on the number of livestock he keeps or the number of wives or children in his family.  Ask around to find out what other locals define as rich.  As mentioned before, ask those who are already helping you with your travels, such as cabbies, hotel staff and shop owners.  Find out from them what’s important, maybe even having them point out to you who they think is rich.

If you’re lucky enough to make the acquaintance of someone rich by local standards, take a chance and be curious while being mindful of social decorum. (I know, it’s an odd balancing act at times)  Explaining how you are trying to capture multiple sides of the location you’re visiting can help open doors.  People who are well off also tend to like to flaunt it, so play to their ego while being genuinely curious.  These opportunities don’t come along often and you must decide for yourself if the situation and timing are worth the effort.  I’ve only come across such an encounter once or twice in my travels and they can be revealing looks into a society.  Luckily in my instances, my hosts were gracious and wonderful to get to know.

What does ‘Rich’ mean to you while traveling?  How has it shown itself?  Include a photo or link to one in the comments section below to tell your tale.


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