Being a photographer, amateur or professional is most exciting when you’re standing on foreign soil. Everything is a new experience, different from what you’re used to back home. The photo ops are endless. Because of this, it’s not surprising that the new-age travel bug has brought a wave of enthusiastic travel photographers.
Yet, there is so much to see and capture it can sometimes be a little overwhelming. Especially if you are constantly on the move, off to yet another alien place.
To break it down, here are things to take on board in order to capture that perfect travel image.
Respect for the environment tells a better story
Reaching a new destination on your travels is always exciting. It isn’t easy to resist snapping away as soon as you arrive. But instead, take a moment to sit somewhere and absorb the place you are now in. Look around to see what defines this place. Often more can be said for the smaller details. A single piece of fruit for example or a close-up of a wall can attract more attention as a photo than trying to capture the whole scene. Be aware of the food, clothes, different colors and textures that surround you; anything that gives a voice to the culture you have found yourself in.
Respect for people gets you places
Taking photos of strangers is always a difficult issue. Even more so when you are a clear foreigner in another person’s country. You must take this into account. Before taking a photo, ask someone’s permission in a gentle and friendly way. Waving your camera in front of a person’s face will not give you good results. After taking the photo, stick around. Take time to interact with your subject, find out their story. Don’t enter the situation ignorant. Learn at least the basics in their language; ‘hello’ ‘how are you?’ and ‘thank you’. This will break that communication barrier, gain trust from your subject and allow for much more candid photos.
Give your subject a voice and your photo will say more
After you’ve received permission to take the photo, make sure your subject feels good in their own environment. Being aware of the background and not just your subject is important to create a more interesting photograph. Try to include objects and features that relate to the subject and their environment. This gives people dignity, more of an identity and allows the photo to say more.
The time of day can change everything
If you’re not a morning person, I’m afraid that will have to change. Taking photos shortly after sunrise will guarantee to give you better results. Not to mention, fewer people to jostle with. This period of the day is recognized in the photography world as the Golden Hour. One hour before sunset is the other critical time, especially accredited for landscapes. Why is this? These two times will give you a softer, far more flattering redder light that your camera will love. After sunset is the Blue Hour when the sun is just below the horizon. This is the perfect time to capture cityscapes or landscapes.
Composition is vital
Often it is a person or object that catches your eye which makes you draw for your camera. But take a moment to consider the framing, angles and what there is in the background. Do you want your subject right in the middle of your photo? Walk around a bit to explore different angles and take in what’s around you.
Conversely when confronted with a landscape that has few layers to it, using a person or object as a focal point can help. This adds depth of field to an otherwise flat landscape.
Tripod is key
There are so many portable lightweight tripods out there these days. It’s a necessity for all serious travel photographers, whether using a phone or SLR. Low light scenes will always benefit with a tripod. Have it ready for those Blue Hour moments, or nighttime shots.
Standing out ain’t easy
You are inevitably going to be heading to well-trodden places at one time or another. For this reason, you need to think more outside the box so that your photos are unique. There are millions of photos out there that look almost exactly the same. Use an alternative angle, or an unexpected focal point to create something that isn’t cliché.
Preparation gives you more
This may seem obvious. However, we have all been there when our phone notifies us of ‘insufficient space’ at the most crucial photo opportunity. This leads to frantically deleting photos you don’t know whether you backed up or not. Buy a memory card for your travel photos and you won’t experience this problem. Also to avoid running out of battery, invest in a portable external battery pack that you can have fully charged for when you’re out and about.
Doing your research will save you time
The more you know about your destination, the better. This avoids you being ignorant about the culture and place you’re going to be taking photos in. Research when the busiest season is, and try to avoid it. Lastly, always be in the know when it comes to the weather and seasons. This will help you out immensely and you’ll avoid wasted journeys. Instead, you’ll capture moments when you know the sun will be shining or the lightning will be striking.
You need an online presence to flourish
As a travel photographer, it’s important to have a platform to showcase your work. If it is a hobby for yourself that’s perfectly fine. However, to gain recognition as a photographer you must create a profile that is regularly updated with your latest travel images. In this way, you can also add a story to your photos that allow viewers greater insight into your travel experiences and amazing shots.