Travel photography is more than just visiting a new location and clicking away. How many times have you returned from a trip feeling you could have shot more interesting images. Today I will try to outline a few good practices I have learned that can help you capture great travel images.
Get to know the destination like the back of your hand, even before you arrive there. Research and read up on history of the place. Be aware of cultural sensitivity when photographing people or places of worship. Research events, there might be great photographic opportunities during seasonal festivals. Browse through images on the internet to see what are the key locations to shoot. Plan the right time of the day to visit a particular place. When planning to shoot architectural structures turn to Google Earth, it will help you determine were the the sun should be for good lighting. Sun rises East and sets West.
Resist the lure to carry a dozen lenses just because you have them. Usually a wide angle lens and a standard zoom are just enough. Eighty percent of my shots come from my 24-105L, it gives me the width and reach I need. Other travel essentials are a flash light, pocket knife, compass and a good map. Do not forget the extra camera battery, memory cards and filters.
While in Jordan, I wanted to capture Petra at night. In my mind the whole trip was worth this one shot. On the day we I arrived, Petra site received less than half of the 50 required bookings to set up the candlelight show. Disheartened, we planned dinner at a local restaurant nearby. But somehow I decided to bring all my gear. Mid-meal, my guide received a call advising him that that the site received a large group of visitors from Japan and were open to visitors. That’s how I got the shot below. You’ll never know how many great photos are lost just because the tripod is left behind. It’s difficult to lug it around all the time, but the tripod might become your best friend at the time of your photographic needs.
Petra at night, 15 sec exposure with camera on tripod.
Identifying a potential subject is probably the single most important trait for a successful travel photograph. Don’t get tempted to frame as much as possible while trying to capture the environment. Learn to spot and isolate the subject. A detail can tell a story of the place.
Patience is what separates a travel photographer from a tourist. Spend enough time on a location or with a subject until you know that you got the shot. If you are in the right place the shot will come to you.
No photographer goes to a location, takes a single shot and comes back knowing it’s a winner. Linger around, wait for the scene to change, try different angles. If you think you’ve nailed the subject down, think about the background. Take a 360 degree tour around the subject and see what background and lighting suits best. Take shots at every angle, you can figure out later when editing images which was the best.
Pay attention to all things around and capture the essence. A balanced mix of People, Architecture, Landscapes, Details, Food and Lifestyle Images will tell a great story.
Bhaven Jani is a photographer with keen interest in travel, people and street photography. He has traveled through India and internationally to capture places and people. He likes to tell a story with his images so that the viewers can experience the same journey. “You are only as good as your last image” he says as he consistently trying to raise his own standards. His work has been published in Indian travel and life-style magazines like Outlook Traveler, Terra scape and Hello. And he’s worked with Tourism boards of Jordan and Canada. Connect with Bhaven via his blog or facebook
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