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Put subjects in context – Another thing that can really lift travel photography, especially shots of people, is work hard at putting your subject into the context of the place that you’re photographing them.
As I critically look at some of the shots I’ve taken of people overseas I realize that a lot of them could have been taken virtually anywhere in the world. They could have added so much more to the viewing experience of them to include some element of the country they were taken in.
Now I’m not saying every shot taken in France needs to have the Eiffel tower in the background or that every shot of people taken in Italy needs to be of them eating pizza – but there are many ways to contextualize your subjects even just by thinking about the framing of your shots.
For example if you’re shooting a local you might like to try to get them at work doing something from their daily rhythm of life. People working can tell people where you are in much more interesting and creative ways than the standard shots of landmarks.
If you’re shooting a picture of a travel companion you might like to frame the shot with the meal that they’re eating in the foreground or with a sign in the background that’s in the language of the place you’re in (rather than a tight head shot) etc.
Being contextual doesn’t need to be cheesey or forced (although sometimes the cheesey shots can work out quite well if you go right over the top with them) – rather it’s often the small and subtle touches that can add so much to travel shots.
Photo Source – Burmese Nun
Since publishing this post we’ve put together an eBook specifically on Travel photography called Transcending Travel: a Guide to Captivating Travel Photography.