10 TOP TIPS FOR EVERY BUDDING TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHER
Do you see your work on the next front cover of Nat Geo? Are you a lens-touting image lover who never leaves the camera behind? Is travel all about finding those breathtaking shots that you can parade to jealous friends back home once you've returned? Well, be sure to check out this list of LBW's top 10 tips for the budding travel photographer. Enjoy…
Be there at dawn
What's the saying, 'the early bird catches the worm'? Well it rings true for travel photography, that's for sure. In fact, many a pro has noted how it's the light haze and ethereal glows, the low-lying mists and the empty landscapes of the earliest hours that give the best shots. Anyone who's ever watched the sun creep above the horizon down Krabi way, made it through a Full Moon Party to watch the pink-red hue over the beaches of Haad Rin, been on empty European beaches at 5am, or watched as the Amazon River comes alive for the day will surely agree…
Stay out late
If you really can't bring yourself to leave the duvet behind and venture out before the (C)hangover has subsided, you could always just opt to stay out later. You're not likely to get the same secluded scenes by shooting in the evening, but the light is still prime for taking moving, emotive shots. What's more, it might be that you're in search of human subjects for you travel albums, which makes the later hours - when folk linger and chat and devour street foods all over the cities of the globe – one of the top times for bringing out the lens.
Travel tripods are your friend
This is one for the more dedicated travel photographer; the ones with room enough in the backpack to haul some extra media gear. If you've got enough space to pack one in, a travel tripod should be top of the list. These days, you can get lightweight options that shouldn't be too much of a hassle to pack and re-pack, while the bonus to those shots is almost immeasurable. Not only will it get you looking the part as you snap waterfalls and horizons, but it will also allow you to play around with shutter speeds free from worrying about adding in extra shake.
Going off-the-beaten-path: It's become something of an old travel cliché. But in the world of photography, there's really nothing better than seeking out the shots that few have done before; boldly going to the frame untrodden. Just think: Everyone's got that ubiquitous image of them holding up the leaning tower of Pisa, but few folk can boast a low-angle shot of the great Renaissance wonder poking through the clouds. The lesson? Wander and range where you think others might not go, and try out angles others might not have tried – those unique pics are a-waiting…
Mingle with the locals
There's long been a debate raging about whether travel snappers should ask their subjects if they can take a photo or just go right ahead and do it. We at LBW will typically always ask, and would even go one step further: recommend striking up a convo. Yep, there's nothing quite like getting a story behind your photographs, and by attempting to chat to your subject, you're not only likely to get permission for the image, but also to learn a little about a culture and place in the meantime.
Wait, wait and wait some more
Don't just expect to roll up, whack out the SLR, and snap the best shot known to man. No sir, travel photography is an art…a slow art. Right up there with control of shutter speeds and ISOs, frame composition and colouring, the skill of patience has never been so important. Once you've set your tripod up or found the perfect vantage point, then it's all about waiting for the clouds to move, the light to glow, the sun to dip, the herds to gallop – the list goes on…
If travel photography is at its best when the artiste is heading off-the-beaten-path, then it follows that the artiste should be as mobile as possible, to help them get as far away and to be as adventurous as they can. The answer? Rent a car or get a bike, you'll cover far more ground on two (or four) wheels than you would on just one, and you'll be able to seek out those grunting water buffalo on the outskirts of town, the cascading rice paddies 20 kilometers down the road, or the sweeping vistas on that hair-pinning bend down scenic route one.
Find some wildlife
No matter if it's a galumphing Ox in India or a groaning elephant on the African plains, a growling tiger between the Sundarbans or a flitting bird on the beaches of Dalmatia, wildlife is quite often the perfect subject to shoot while on the road. That's not only because the creatures of a land are often elegant and fascinating, but also because they say something about a destination. Are they tropical or arctic? Are they fur-clad or quick? You get the idea.
Do some photography tutorials
If you're a total novice when it comes to all those shutter speeds and focus elements, lighting effects and the like, then it's a good idea to take a couple of online photography tutorials before you head out with the SLR in tow. Doing that will arm you with just enough knowledge to play about with a purpose, rather than just…well, playing about!
Don't forget to snap your mates, too
While all these intricate little tips about composition and lighting are great if you're looking to be the next Nat Geo maestro, they don't really help with simple memory snaps. For that, we recommend a no-holes-barred approach of clicking the shutter whenever you like. Don't worry about making your travel buddies look beautiful, they will manage that themselves. And anyway, you're going to have to be quick to catch that beer keg on YachtLife, that ubiquitous group jump on the beaches of Thailand, or the moment a cheeky macaque swings down onto your buddie's head in Nam'!
If you're a veteran photo taker and have some more great tips to share, we'd sure love to hear them in the comments below. Or, of you think it's time you went out and started snapping your own shots from Thailand to Vietnam, Costa Rica to Peru, take a look at our offering of awesome itineraries around the globe…