1- Be kind to your back. Use a backpack, if possible.
While out shooting travel photography it really isn’t the time to carry a cute bag. You’re on your feet all day, the beds you sleep on at night probably aren’t all that restorative and situations are perfect for creating back, neck and shoulder pain if you place all the weight of your gear and personal items on one shoulder all day long. Admittedly, I’ve traveled with a cross body bag, as it distributed some weight to my hip and was very easy to access, but I almost always come home from a trip needing rehab on my finicky back. I’m on the hunt for a low profile backpack and would love to hear any recommendations!
2-Put your gear away if you feel unsafe.
Very, very rarely do I feel the need to take overt precautionary measures to protect my gear. I follow basic rules of keeping my gear in my bag in super crowded locations (public transit at rush hour and waiting in dense queue lines come to mind) and also put it away when my children need my full attention. If in doubt, err on the side of caution and put your gear away. You can always come back later to try for the shot you were considering, but only if you still have a camera!
3-Take the expected travel photography shot, then put your spin on it.
When traveling in tourist destinations, there are sights and scenes that are photographed by everyone. They are beautiful, iconic and worthy of capturing in imagery and sometimes become the best stock photos. Take the shot from the expected vantage point. You were there, the scene looks good from the spot that everyone photographs from and you will have personal memories attached to the resultant, predictable, image that will make it meaningful to you. After you take that shot, though, is when the magic can occur. How can you show the scene, in a way that will allow others to see it through your eyes? Change perspective, focus in on a detail, utilize framing elements, incorporate movement of some kind, include a human subject in an unexpected way… relax and observe, then work with whatever thoughts come to mind.
4-Try to find everyday life and capture it.
Life is lived differently in various parts of the world, yet we are all so wonderfully similar, as well. Everyone grocery shops, plays games/sports, enjoys time with friends, cleans, commutes, etc. When shooting travel photography, think about how you can document the contrasts in the similarities to your life at home. These kind of images connect emotionally with viewers.
5-Photograph details, not just landscapes and environmental shots.
Are you on a safari trip in Africa? Photograph the animals and the landscapes, for sure, but what about the steering wheel and driver’s seat in your tour vehicle? Or the hands of your guide as s/he explains something to you. Or the entryway to the room you stayed in at night? Detail shots fill in the broad brushstrokes that wide shots set. They invite the viewer into the story, giving them them the intimacy to feel as though they were really there, experiencing the scene, too.
6-Try to get some time to yourself, if traveling with a group.
While I love including my family and/or friends in imagery while we’re traveling, some of my favorite images are created when I have the opportunity to wander off by myself for awhile. When I’m not attending to children or engaging with adults my mind is free to become absorbed in my surroundings. I hear the divergence from my normal in the sounds of the new city, I am more aware of the smells in the air, I have time to notice particularly beautiful light. These observations find their way into my photography and are the basis for images that help capture the feeling of the location.
Do you have questions about travel photography or travel in general? Let me know in the comments!
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