Ten tips for Travel Photography

The world is a much smaller place now than ever before and travel photography is something that is no longer done by a few professionals.  Black and white photographs, portrait photography of locals and documentary or editorial photography is something we all do now with even the cameras in our phones.  I recently returned from a Middle East tour of Egypt and Jordan.  Both places I had been dreaming about going to for as long as I can remember.  I travel a lot and it’s my biggest “vice” in life by far.  Learning from other cultures and experiencing different ways of life can only enhance yours in a better way.  It was a wonderful trip filled with amazing places and lovely people.

So like most people I shoot like crazy on my trips!  I actually shoot both film and digital and yes; I carry a lot of gear.  I do however think smart about what will be the minimum I can take for the maximum effect.   This means zoom lenses for sure.  Most of the cameras on the market today can shoot at higher ISO’s (this means less light needed for images in dark settings) and the point and shoots have pretty good telephoto lenses that make it all easy.  Knowing your equipment and its limitations are the first step.  I’m really happy to help if you have questions about equipment and what you are thinking about buying.

Here are some things to remember when you travel.  First, respect the culture.  Some people are not keen on having their photographs taken.  Others just love it!  one example is the mosque I visited in Cairo.  It must have been a school outing trip for a few schools.  There were boys and girls of all ages.  I wandered away from my friend and suddenly I found myself surrounded by about 25 kids all just either staring if they didn’t speak English or some saying the little bit they knew but they loved having their photo taken and some would just coyly come up to me, stand next to me and their friend would take a phone photo.  I hate  having my photograph taken but was not going to say no to these kids!

San Francisco photographer Misti Layne, photojournalist

Of course when you return you have hundreds of photos and some are not worth keeping at all.  Delete them and do it right away!  Don’t let them take up hard drive space and waste your time scrolling through them either.  Someone is blinking?  Delete it.  Five shots of the hotel pool?  One is likely enough.  If they make you laugh, feel or remember then you know you have a keeper.

So here is my 10 point bullet list for travel photography:

  • Don’t take all of your camera equipment but be well prepared with options if you have an SLR. Two zoom lenses that cover you from wide to close up and you are good to go.
  • A point and shoot camera should be able to have a good zoom lens and be sure you can get good photos in low light with a high ISO setting.  Look for 3200 if you can, be aware though that any higher and you will likely need software for corrections if not a good camera.
  • Take lots of film, flash cards and batteries!
  • Be courteous when photographing people.  If you’re not sure, just ask them first.  If you don’t speak their language, just smile.  It works wonders!
  • Photograph everything you see.  It may have little importance at the time but when you get home you may think I’m so glad I got that!
  • Don’t just snap away.  Think about your images first and “see” them then take the photos with thought and purpose.  You’ll appreciate them much more rather than one that has a thumb in it or someone walking through unexpectedly.
  • If shooting digital, have a laptop with you to back up your images and keep your cards in a safe place.  There is no such thing as too many cards.  They don’t take any space at all but hold a lot!
  • Once you are home put them on your computer or get your film developed right away.  Procrastination can lead to problems like misplacing cards and film, deleting cards, forgetting what images are from where etc.  It’s a good excuse to quickly relive your trip!
  • Edit them!  I can’t stress this enough.  Don’t waste your hard drive space and keep the best!
  • Share them!  Now that you have had these great experiences share them with your friends.  Places like SmugMug, Facebook, Flikr, Twitter, MySpace are wonderful.

Here is my post on my recent trip!

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