Photography is the art of telling a powerful story, and if you are lucky enough to be a travel photographer, then it is your sole responsibility to ensure that you are doing justice to the subjects you are studying and the landscapes you are witnessing. In order to become a well respected travel photographer, you have to have a lot of patience, a keen instinct and a sense of awareness and understanding across the numerous cultures you will come into contact with.
In my prime, a lot of my work involved travelling to different countries and living in remote places, which were teeming with culture, vibrant colours and interesting inhabitants. As a photographer, you have to be able to integrate into any culture and to be able to make yourself invisible, in the hopes of capturing a magical moment, or the perfect wildlife image. For me, the intimate moments are the most magical, and they matter the most.
Photography has been my passport to see the world and I would love nothing more than to encourage other photographers to take the leap and to truly get the most out of travel photography.
Do Your Research
Before you visit somewhere, whether this is Cornwall, or India, it’s important to read up on the area as much as you can.
Get a sense of what the culture is like, read up on the communities, the landmarks and the wildlife. This will help you to prepare your trip and to make the necessary arrangements to take the best pictures available to you.
One of the best tips is to read local newspapers of the area you are travelling to. These kind of stories may not reach a national level, but they are extremely useful tools to gain a better understanding of what is really happening in the place.
Try to establish relationships with people before you even get on the plane, and also make the point of communicating with photographers who have already visited the place you are travelling to. There is nothing more valuable than the insight of another photographer.
Be Prepared to Go Deep
Being a travel photographer means that you often travel to new and exciting places, but it also allows you to bare witness to extraordinary things, such as a different way of life. Spending an extended period of time in one place is the only way that you are going to get to know the subtle nuances that make up a great photograph. Only with time and patience, will you be aware of how to take the best photos.
Be Authentic and Sensitive
In order to make compelling and real photographs of people, you must be authentic in your process. Taking the perfect candid photograph is a skill that needs to be developed, and the beauty is in the detail. In order to take the best candid picture, you must become part of the process, so this means putting away your telephoto lens and become part of the moment.
Make sure that you’re talking to the people around you, that you are getting involved in whatever festivities you may be documenting. If you connect with the people who you are photographing, then you will be able to take a more authentic and candid photograph.
Your Equipment is Your Lifeblood
Knowing your equipment is pretty much rule number one of being a photographer. Your camera should be an extension of your vision, and if you do not have the confidence to use your camera and your equipment, then this will show in your image.
Be sure to travel with equipment that you have worked with before.
My essential gear list includes Nikon 810 body, a 24mm, 1.4 lens, a 24-70mm lens. I find that they work best with the landscapes and help me to achieve that perfect finish. Simple equipment is always better and although using the latest technology can be great, make sure that you feel confident with it before you have an assignment.
Keep Good Notes
As a travel photographer, it’s in our very nature to meet new and interesting people, but as time passes our memories will naturally fade, so it’s pretty impossible to remember everything we see, everybody we meet and everything we do.
I used to carry a little notepad around with me, so that I could make a note of everyone I met and everything I see throughout my adventures. Now time has passed and it’s easier and probably better to write something for your phone. Keeping our memories and our little anecdotes with our photographs will help to keep the magic and the memory alive.
Being a great travel photographer takes time, patience and a keen eye for beauty. The best thing about photography is the ability to be able to capture a small fraction of how you see the world and the experiences have had.