Travel Photography

Travel Photography, what does this mean? Holiday snaps from your recent holiday? Photo’s of your and your friends in a bar with drinks? Or can it mean images of places and people from different cultures? In essence it is all of the above, but it also depends on what your imagery is used for. Is it being used for advertising or just to show family or friends how your holiday was.

First and foremost, think about what made you decide, out of all the places in the world, to choose this particular destination. Whatever it is—the beach, the rides, the mountain, the galleries, the food—obviously appeals to you. If it didn’t, you wouldn’t be going there. That site or activity (or inactivity) is one of the things you want to photograph. But there are probably many other interesting aspects of the place you may not be aware of. That’s where research comes in.First and foremost, think about what made you decide, out of all the places in the world, to choose this particular destination. Whatever it is—the beach, the rides, the mountain, the galleries, the food—obviously appeals to you. If it didn’t, you wouldn’t be going there. That site or activity (or inactivity) is one of the things you want to photograph. But there are probably many other interesting aspects of the place you may not be aware of. That’s where research comes in.

Understanding the customs and traditions of a place is vital. For one thing, you want to be sure you act in a way that is not rude or offensive while you are there, and it’s hard to know what’s acceptable and what isn’t with some knowledge. It can also help you understand things people do that at first encounter you might consider incomprehensible or even horrifying.

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One of the philosophical problems with photography is that it can be subdivided into various categories, depending on the subject matter and the purpose for which the photographs were taken. Often the boundaries of such divisions are specific and clear, but in other cases there is a distinct overlap and conjunction.travel photography

This is so in the case of travel photography, which can be sufficiently varied in scope to include genre such as Applied, Landscape, Portraiture, Documentary and Photojournalism. This tends to make a definition of travel photography rather difficult within that framework, so I tend to adopt a subjective definition, and suggest that travel photography is that which offers “a sense of place”. This can be expanded to suggest that successful travel pictures should inspire the viewer, and create a desire to learn more about the place, or better still, visit it.

It’s not only place, either. A set of travel pictures can represent place, as illustrated by landscape or architecture, but equally it could be showing a journey, the people who live in a particular place, or an event or activity in some particular location: or of course, a combination of any or all of those.

One also needs to qualify “place”. Travel photography doesn’t have to be “abroad”: it can take place anywhere in the world, and can start as soon as you step outside your front door. Or the door of your hotel, or your ship, canoe, tent, or cave – and now we’re getting somewhere!

Travel Photography Masterclass
Picture 2 (Nikon D200 F8.0 1/160sec [Compensation -1/3 stop] ISO 100)

This wide ranging definition now underpins the skills which are needed to be a successful travel photographer -travel photography

  • On the one hand, there is the slow, deliberate style required by the landscape photographer, where time is taken to choose the viewpoint, to set the camera, and above all, to wait for the right atmosphere and lighting, and if need be to return at a more appropriate time.travel photography
  • The documentary aspects require a formal plan of what is to be documented, how it is to be portrayed, and if necessary obtaining the necessary permissions to visit particular places, which may be closed to the general public.travel photography

Environmental portraiture of people in their work places or homes is yet another skill, and demands in addition to photographic ability, a high degree of inter-personal ability; while photo-journalism calls for quick reactions, and of course, the overriding requirement of being in the right place at the right time.

 

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