5 Tips for Culture & Travel Photography

9/26/2013 11:23:00 PM


More than Learning or Teaching, Traveling sometimes is as simple as reading a chapter from a book full of short stories. Each story has its own meaning and it leaves different impact on each of us, little or less. that is perhaps why, everyone comes back with their own unique stories and experiences even if they visit the same place, eat same food or do those very same activities. traveling photography and writing is nothing but making your own story book full of your own adventure tales.

In my last post I talked about how important it is as a social photographer to "connect" with her/his subjects. I took few examples of the portraits I shot,  and through those I discussed different mentality and situations. well, If I have to summarize that entire post in 2 sentences, all i wanted to say was, How much I dislike soul-less portraits. how important my photography subjects are for me, how I love them and want you to do the same. and it doesn't matter if they are celebrity or beggars.


Above is one thing that I learned,  and according to me is most essential to create soulful social portraits or meaningful story photographs from your travel. There are few more tips rather practices that I learned from my travel only and follow regularly. I shared a few of them already in this post  Interviews #1 -- Q&A on Travel Photography with Photokatha.in  see Q6) and here are few more practices that you can follow when making travel photographs. 

Do NOT Delete

I know all of us have heard this at some point of time and from someone or the other, that if you get 20 good images from a shoot, that means the shoot was successful, and its not entirely untrue.

When it comes to travel, the images you make are in proportion with the time you spend traveling and also that how eventful your travel has been. you can make 200 images or 20000 as well depending on the duration. Now if the end goal for the images is just to share, even then, it is impossible for any photographer to upload those 20 thousand images then what should one do?

The simple solution would be to not take that many images, but as we all know, when we are out shooting, pretty much everything that looks important, we get all agog to press the shutter for.

Its important to figure out what is important and what is not to shoot and that quality, definitely comes with practice and experience, But here is the golden rule. Do not delete what you shoot. and here is why not.

Storage is cheap

need i say more? keep the archives. this is especially important when it comes to travel photography.
Travel photography are captures of time. they aren't organized shoots. which can be done again.
The leh I shot in June 2010 was not the same 2 months later. unfortunately.

The mountains are calling and I must go.

We are always in certain state of mind when we shoot. and that is why we take certain sort of images. what attracts us and what not is totally dependent on what we are looking for at that point of time. So when we analyze our images later, we only look at certain images and others are ignored and deleted.
Now these images might look important and worth saving later on. It is quite possible.

for example above image is from Uttarakhand India, shot during a trek to Roopkund Himalaya. this was not in the set of images I decided to show after I returned from the trek. I only posted this few months back, i.e. about 3 years later.

Also one more thing is important here. If you are in to Editorial photography, you must know that the images those are submitted in editorials are not always the best images according to you. the images are chosen by the editor depending on what s/he think his audience is all about. for example the below image, published in go-getter magazine was not something I wanted to be published but editor like it.

rain and more rain..

so bottom-line is, make the images that tell stories, and keep them, both for secondary critic and memory.

and that is why...wait for 3 seconds before pressing the shutter.

To save yourself from that extra labor of sorting pictures, think before you shoot. this is not only important to create quality images, it is also important for observing and evaluating the overall frame and the story. and not to mention again, if its a living being you know you need to make that "love at first sight connection too"so train your mind to frame well and look back and process again and again with fresh pair of eyes.

carry the best equipment you have , 

You can always give an excuse and say, the best camera is what you have. but that doesn't mean you do not evaluate your needs and carry the equipments accordingly. Its extremely important in case of traveling because, you might not go the same place / same event again. You might not even see those same people or situation again.

photoshop is not mandatory but learning it doesn't hurt.

Leh Ladakh | Sputik Monastery | Aerial

I am not going to delve in to photo journalism or  travel blogging photography. Travel photography does not require composites and any sort of enhancement, But there are many times you do not get exact photograph you are looking for, out of your camera. your settings might not be right, or you might need some techniques to tell the story better. in those cases, you will need photoshop to get the results you want.

Also, as your technique grows you can get creative in your social / travel photography in more than one way, and that is framing and lighting. so its very important to learn photoshop slowly, develop a work flow and use it to better your own style of story telling.


Black & White vs color

In my Q&A post tips section, I was talking about not touching the saturation slider and also no over doing HDR. here is another tip on, when and not one should do the conversion from color to monochrome or lets rephrase it as

How to decide, What images are to be presented in Monochrome and what images are eligible for color processing

This is how it happens, we want to make a story poignant, classy and effective? we change the images to Black and white.

another myth, if the image is not good enough, make it greyscale, and Yes I have seen both happening. so Here is what I think about monochromes and colors

I personally love colors and colorful elements. while framing an image Its important for me to see if we have good balance of color in one frame. because contrast colors can work in one frame but they wont in other. in the same way, depending on the mood, you need to see if the colors add to the story.


Be the lighthouse!
the truth is its not always about the what elements are in the frame or how many colors are there, black, white, RGB or many. what is important here is how the transition from light to dark is.

the above image is one of my favorite and apt example of when it is right to convert image to monochrome. this image is shot using iPhone4S, and has very strong shadow lines those tell a good story. its very figurative and doesn't make mess out of image with hundred of grey elements.

Also simple conversion of the image also doesnt work all the time, so figure out why you are picking up certain representation of images in a set or as stand alone story.

Hope these inputs will help you better your travel photography, The next couple of posts will now be on #travelindia and perhaps some stories. and then I'd be back with some more dos and donts of social photography and one post on framing that I am very keen on writing about.

until later.

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