Video: Travel Photography Tips – Shoot with a Purpose

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The challenge with travel photography is that you may not get back to a location again anytime soon. So many photographers try and squeeze out as many photos as possible. The issue is lack of attention to detail and having any intentions or purpose before shooting.

What do you want your image to show?

Waiting for the right gesture, or even right subject to enter your scene is critical.

In this image shot in Trinidad, Cuba I found some amazing light skimming across the cobblestone streets. But it lacked something.

By waiting for a subject, the couple, to enter the scene it is more of a complete story.

In this video, photographer Mitchell gives you some great examples of how to shoot lots of images but end up with better results than just rapid-fire shooting.

The key points mentioned in the video are:

  • It’s not about shooting as many images as possible, but to shoot as many as possible with a purpose and intent.
  • Don’t settle for one or two shots from each scene. Get out of the mindset of needing to get the perfect shot in as few frames as possible. It’s not a contest.
  • Don’t spray and pray. Have an idea of what you want to capture.
  • Explore different framings and camera settings.
  • See how the light changes from different angles.
  • Experiment with different perspectives.

Another example

Here you can see some shots I took of two men deep in conversation in Cienfuegos, Cuba. But it still wasn’t quite what I wanted. The first (upper left) was too busy. The second (right) was more focused on the med but lacked context of the busy street scene. The third (lower left) shot from across is getting closer. 

Finally with the addition of the cyclist I had the shot I had envisioned. It shows context, has layers of activity, and interest. To me, it really speaks about daily life in a Cuban city. 

Do you photograph with purpose? Slow down and think about each frame you shoot. Be intentional.

And come home with great photos!

Read more from our Tips & Tutorials category

Darlene Hildebrandt is the Managing Editor of dPS. She is also an educator who teaches aspiring amateurs and hobbyists how to improve their skills through articles, online photography classes, and travel tours. Get her free ebook 10 Photography Challenges to help you take better pictures or join a photo tour to some exotic places.

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  • Jim Wolff

    Great tips. Good examples shown.

  • Good article. Today almost all mobiles have an option of multiple shots continuously which can be used very efficiently in a great manner having an intent to bring something special in your photograph. While, a wide range of frames are also available which have the availability to change the whole scenario of the photograph. just learn to shoot technically having lectures on photograph perspective that may be with respect to anything.

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  • John Miner

    You’re right about waiting. Remember that shot of the bicyclist by Cartier-Bresson, or the man jumping? I’ve always wondered if he had those staged.

  • Michael Koczur

    The shot with the Two men talking is a great example where I as a non pro hassiating all the time if I should ask them before or not. I mean we all agree that patience and a couple of Shots are necessary to come out with “that One shot”. But for me it’s often difficult to have those patience when it’s about people involved especially when you did’t ask them for permittion

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