Boyfriend in front of Reichstag. Girlfriend posing in front of Machu Picchu. Couple kissing in front of Niagara Falls. Mum and dad pointing at the Eiffel Tower. We’ve all got them – the standard travel picture of Generic Loved One standing in front of Beautiful Sight and doing…well, not that much. Despite our best efforts, when we go abroad most of us to stick to what we know with regard to photography – and what we know is, generally speaking, not that much. No-one wants to be boring Uncle Geoffrey with his three hour long slide show of ‘My Safari Experience – The Mountains and I’ in varying shades of dull. No-one. There are ways to take pictures of the place you’re visiting that are relevant, exciting, meaningful, insightful or at the very least beautiful. Take a journey with us through the mire of dull composition, cliches and bad lighting – here are our tips for taking better travelling photographs – and sorry Uncle Geoff.
Immersing yourself in the culture and history of the place you’re visiting before you even will give you a much more comprehensive idea of the kind of pictures you might be able to take. Understanding local customs will give you an insight into what will and won’t be acceptable; i.e. if a tribe are particularly camera shy, or whether certain areas or temples are camera free zones. Learning about the culture and history will also give you pre-inspiration for what might make a beautiful picture – so when you’re actually there, you’re far more likely to catch fleeting moments or interesting details as you’ll be looking out for them!
Have the right attitude
Whilst travelling, like every other situation in life, it pays to be nice. Everyone likes nice. People respond to nice. It is a universally effective currency that will yield you riches untold. Although some of the best photos are taken when people are unawares (and you are totally within your rights to try and do this if you can do it without offending anyone) when it is obvious, you should always ask permission. Not every culture is as snap-tastically facebookingly happy as ours to be photographed from every angle – in fact, some will probably get pretty hacked off about it – so it doesn’t hurt to ask. Additionally, a friendly, happy, upbeat attitude will probably result in better photos – it’s amazing how quickly you’ll find yourself devouring a plate of Bebek Betutu in a Balinese kitchen with your new friend Ketut or drinking coffee with a gang of old French men on Left Bank simply by being friendly – and these are the kind of situations that will result in photos with a difference.
Get off the beaten track
Now whilst you’ll obviously want to visit Angkor Wat in Cambodia and the Colosseum in Rome – and you should – don’t limit yourself to the obvious, ‘guidebook’ sights only. You’ll find some of the best sights by wandering into the hub of real life in your chosen destination; in Berlin, for example, get out of Alexanderplatz and the main tourist areas and expose yourself to the cafe culture and fantastic industrial charms of bohemian Kreuzberg, where you’ll find vibrant street art, interesting people and small, underrated art galleries. You will of course want pictures of the main attractions of the region you’re visiting – after all, they are famous for a reason – but truly interesting travel pictures are surely those that capture the spirit of the area using the people and subtleties that create it. Taking pictures of faces close up, for example, can be just as interesting as any panoramic view, if not more; whether funny, moving or beautiful, an expression speaks a thousand words.
Source: Retlaw Snellac
Be clever about timing
Take into consideration the physical limititions you’ll face when trying to take great pictures; lighting is one of these limitations. Early morning and late afternoon light both have a lovely, ethereal, warm glow – use it. Early morning can be an ideal time to take photos in busy urban settings as there is less smog, and there are also less crowds to contend with. Light can be used to fantastic benefit; it effortlessly adds a particular mood to your photo and can make it look, in turn, eerie, beautiful, strange, bleak, exotic and everything in between. The world is your own personal studio – and the rent is free! You can also vary your images by mixing up your own position, try from high up, or very low down, lie on the ground, experiment with your hands in front of the lens – in our digital age, the worst that could happen is that you’ll have to hit delete. Boo hoo.
Take pictures of details
My friend Katie is a fantastic travel photographer, and the reason? She takes photos of the things most of us would probably miss, bypassing the typical tourist sights. She’ll take a photo of the smallest details; the expression on the face of the characterful old German man as he waits for his bus, a perfect tiny cup and saucer in a cosy French bistro with the Boulevard Saint-Germain faded in the background, a cigarette burning in the ashtray next to it, the box of beautiful old books in Edinburgh stacked carelessly on the lovely ancient Scottish cobbled stone pavement. All her photographs speak volumes about the place she’s visited; and yours could too!
Source: Peo Pea
header source: Kirstea