Getting to Know Travel Photography from the Inside Out
The irruption of low fares in many international flights has made travelling to far places accesible to millions of people around the world. Thailand, Vietnam or Morocco are now popular destinations for American and European tourists. The astonishing beauty of these countries and their thriving culture has attracted a lot of attention to all the related graphic content. Instagram is a powerful tool, either through stories or publications, and many photographers have drown a huge audience around their work. Either if you can produce a regular flow of content or you just want to make some money while you visit new places, travel photography is a wonderful opportunity.
Undiscovered places are scarce in today’s world, distances are smaller than ever and intercontinental trips are becoming normal. Despite that countries like Greece, Italy or Spain have suffered anti-tourist protests during 2017 due to their negative effects for the local population, travelling pictures continue pouring into the average photography portfolio. Thinking about leaving everything for a few weeks and taking your backpack to the other side of the world can be rewarding both mentally and economically.
Research about your travel photography destination
Talk to people, read books, visit travel blogs, read experiences from other photographers etc. Every minute you invest on planning is time you will save when you are on the ground. History, local currency, local infrastructures or languages used are basics for understanding what you are going to visit.
Be respectful at any moment, some photography ideas may seem very reasonable to you but they can cause you a problem or two. If you want a portrait of someone, try to ask in the local language, no matter how initially difficult it may seem. You can have a hard time to get permission for taking a picture of them isolated, so be patient and easy-going.
Capture the uniqueness of each place
When you know the history and background of every building, city or area, your point of view changes entirely. You will see your next photo in a different way as you will be able to adapt the light and surroundings to the main theme. Don’t be shy to improve your photo composition by spending some time in the same spot looking for the best angle or focus. Small changes turn a good photo into a top-class one.
Each place possesses its own particular look, character, and environment. If we want photographs of our adventures to be awesome, they can’t miss any of these characteristics. Capturing memories, making your audience feel those moments and tell as much of a story as you can, are challenges you will face.
Make the most of your day
Waking up before dawn and going to bed well into midnight is a must. When you are in a strange country getting to the good spots well before the light is how you wanted it needs some room for the unexpected. Taking visitors into account is also very recommendable, avoid rush hours in the most touristic spots or you will waste most of your time.
Adapting to the local time as soon as possible requires some practice but it surely has a reward if you want to capture a new culture. Ways of living are usually tied to temperatures and hours of light so they may change between seasons. Save some time for getting lost on purpose but always have in mind a way of transportation to your next stop of the day.
Travel smart, travel safe
First and foremost, travel light, you will likely walk a lot. If you are handy enough to safely travel with a drone, tell us how in the comments. Tripods, especially light ones, are a safe bet. They will allow you to use interesting techniques like long exposures and can improve a lot the quality of your pictures before editing. Adapting your daily itinerary based on the equipment you intend to use in each spot can save your bag a few pounds.
Travel photography and backups are good friends, don’t break that relationship. Sadly, being robbed is not unusual for a tourist in many countries and cameras are perfect targets. Safe backpacks are a good start, however you should not get out of your home without having your equipment insured. Moreover, I encourage you to create regular photo backups. Good wifi connection can be found easily nowadays, don’t miss the opportunity to upload your work at least daily.
Lastly, creating a formal relationship with an airline that operates in the areas you are interested is a good idea. If you travel regularly, you will get some sweet deals that can help you go further.
As in any other activity, photography requires a good deal of knowledge that only experience can bring. Make sure you learn step by step in small trips with cheap equipment before jumping into the major leagues. This is a process, good photography ideas won’t come out of nowhere the first time you do one of these trips. Getting to know what type of places and ideas match up with your style before spending thousands of dollars on one one-month road trip worths it, believe me.
Enjoy your time
Money is not the main reason why you do this, the sense of adventure is always there, so enjoy it. You are not just making your online portfolio bigger but to make your memories bigger. Hang out with locals when you can or use the social media to meet people in the areas you visit. Booking an Airbnb is a good idea in the vast majority of countries. You will get a closer feeling to a normal day of a local and your host can be kind enough to give you a ride or show you around.