Some tips for travel photography
Let me start off by telling you that I don’t think of myself as a great travel photographer, my main focus is fashion/glamour and teaching those areas of photography. However thanks to my work I do travel a lot and over the years I’ve been building a portfolio from the shots I take during the trips that I even feature on my website, meaning that I really like those shots. Of course most of the images I took 2-3 years ago are now replaced by new ones, and the new ones I like a lot better so I’m learning every trip.
During my seminar “being creative and getting the shot” there is a lot of attention for some parts of travel/street photography and people respond very positive to this part of the seminar, so I thought it would be fun to share some tips on the blog, I hope it will help you out on your next trip/vacation to take better shots. And remember that ALL these techniques also translate to model/fashion/glamour photography.
Reflections are found everywhere, you can start out with some reflections of yourself in sunglasses or in windows, but it gets more interesting when the reflections are getting bigger and what is better for this than huge skyscrapers. Play a bit with the tilt of your camera (angle) and you can create some very interesting looking images.
I always combine this with “leading lines” and for me this is something that can really work very strong.
You can find the repeating patterns in the most basic situations like in this $0.99 store.
It gets a bit more interesting however when you start using it with some strong lines and playing with DOF.
We were still in LA during the remembrance of September 11th and this scene I found at a local fire department, for me this screamed out to me to be photographed.
By choosing a lower angle this changes the whole look of the image, which brings me to the next tip.
Change your position
We are used to see the world from our eye position, one of the most basic tips I can give you is to change this, you can start doing everything from above, but easier is to get down on the floor and use the so called ant perspective, or anything in between.
Take for example a simple road, when shot from eye level it’s boring, however when you shoot it from a very low angle it gets more interesting….. but when you start to combine this with people it get’s really interesting.
One of the added benefits is that people don’t see you as a photographer that is focussing on them, meaning for example that at the walk of fame in LA you can actually take some shots of the characters that are posing there without them noticing, normally as soon as you point a camera to them they will turn away (only for money they will be photographed).
But you can also add a lot more drama to a shot by choosing a lower angle.
Now let’s change the position from slightly up, to completely up.
In this case I held the camera with a wide angle straight at the pole pointed upwards.
Colors always are drawing your attention when they are strong or combined with some of the before mentioned tips. It can be a very simple shot like this
Where I’m just shooting someone walking along a blue wall, in fact if you have the time you can just keep standing in a location like this and there will be amazing shots.
But also think about playing with your DOF and using a very simple storage unit to create something that pleases the eye 😀
In this shot I love both the colors and DOF as the patterns and leading lines. You can find this kind of shots in market places and you can of course use several different object to do something similar.
Most of the time we are looking straight ahead (otherwise you bump your head), but sometimes we miss some interesting shots that are literally below our feet.
Zoom in and play
Sometimes you see photos were it’s clear that the photographer wanted to show you everything. For me that hardly ever works, I do take these shots of course, but most of the time I love it way more when I zoom in and really focus on one particular part of the scene.
Locations that are not inspiring?
According to some locations should always be impressive, huge, extreme, exotic etc.
And yes I agree that helps, but I always love to shoot in locations where most photographers would leave their camera in the hotel, in this case for example the Laundromat. In fact I love when we visit it (and we have to do it every trip), the shots you can get there are without a doubt interesting, and when you are “lucky” enough to find an older one the “grittyness” can be greatly enhanced in Photoshop 😀 In this case we used a rather new one, but still there were enough options to make some nice shots…. and let’s be honest you have to wait anyway so why not use that time… do make sure that you are not kicked out, so be a bit careful when shooting people and don’t behave like a total nut, you still need those clothes.
We all know that backlight can be awesome when used in model photography, however when you are patient enough to find the right spot and wait for that short moment where it all comes together, backlight in street/travel photography can be breath taking.
These shots were done at Venice Beach (LA) and were only possible in a time frame of maybe 15-20 minutes.
Playing with DOF
We all know that working with DOF can be interesting, so this tip is maybe kicking in an open door, but I thought it would not be a complete post without mentioning it 😀
By using wide aperture and longer lenses you can really put the focus of the viewer on a certain point in the image, when you are a smart photographer you will try to keep the distance from the subject to the lens much smaller than the distance between the background and the subject, meaning you are really enhancing the feel of isolation.
Also remember that sometimes the portrait mode works great, but the landscape mode is actually a lot better, but again this is personal and will vary per shot. But if you have the time shoot at least some images in portrait/landscape although you might think it looks better in landscape/portrait. Sometimes later when viewing the images you can find that it looks totally different on the computer than you thought while taking them.
I hope you enjoyed this post, and if so feel free to share it via your website, social media etc.
Great post Frank which will motivate me this weekend
Nice pictures Frank!
Cool travel shots Frank, Like how they all have similar tones. Were they processed in LR4 only?
These were all Lightroom
Well done , do you have a preset package for sale?
Thanks. And no sorry ;
Were these with your new small street camera or with one of the big ones? I am really starting to get interested in street/building photography again while seeing your work. I use to do it years ago on film and zooming in on top corners of buildings. My favorite shots were from a city corner with 4 tall buildings and taking a wide shot straight up the middle, not easy to do on busy street.