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A Different Approach to Travel Photography
Most of us will go on vacation sooner or later and most of the time we tend to stick to the beaten path, the tourists attractions, the popular sites, the monuments and every other destination by which your travel destination is known for.
It is a good idea to photograph all of these sites and attractions, but sometimes the best photographs which deliver a true image of a country and really captures the essence of the people are those places where people and things are in their natural unadulterated state of being. They are not made up or pruned for the sake of visitors.
Research your location before you go, either by visiting a bookstore’s travel section, or searching the Internet. You can obtain many great ideas just by leafing through a pictorial of the area, or studying maps of the locations you plan to visit.
Most if not all destination have an Internet presence where they will gladly offer you advice and even provide some savings on your trip.
On any trip overseas or on any location where one has not been before, it is always good to explore the common areas, the less common stores, centers, restaurants and so on.
Meeting new people can always be an exciting opportunity to get to know a culture and its customs better than it would be possible in a predetermined setting such as in a tour operation.
Capture small details regarding the decorations, the people, the nuances of the environment. Aim for architectural subjects that appear to be worn out and widely used, which would be in total contradiction to the well kept and manicured areas of the most visited and centric places which are reserved and prepared for visitors.
Try to have interactions with the locals and learn about other photogenic places that are of the way.
Your intentions should be to capture images of the locations, the people, the general atmosphere that is not what is normally seen in postcards and not what someone expects to see from a vacation.
Most of the time a friendly interaction with a local can lead to some very interesting details and "secret" locations that can make for excellent photographs and an even more memorable trip. Interpolate these images with the more traditional scenes for an interesting photographic account of your trip.
The key to gaining the locals confidence is to establish a friendly conversation and share your reasons for having chosen their destination as a place for your visit; what attracted you to this specific place.
Most often than not the residents will open up and share what they think are the good places to visit, other than the more tourists oriented sites. It is also a good idea to promise and follow through with sharing copies of your photographic experiences. You may even end up gaining a friend for life.
Your picture taking should focus on scenes that capture the things that make the location attractive and at the same time different from where you come from.
Focus on the buildings, perhaps the traffic signals, store fronts, food, how people dress, even the taxis.
A good technique is to sometimes record images of a city street and the people within sight of a clock, to compare what happens here and what happens in your hometown during a particular time such as during lunch time.
For example, during a trip to Spain I took several images of the street scenes that are within sight of a big clock and I noticed that during their normal lunch time people frequented street cafes and had beer or wine with their meals and did not seem to be in any hurry to finish and get back to work.
Afterwards I realized that it is common for Spaniards to take a "siesta" from about 12:00 pm to 3:00 pm everyday day. Even the stores and most other places regularly close during this time.
I would not have noticed this and many other facts if I had not ventured on my own and gotten away from the tour and its set itinerary and predetermined locations.
Doing a little planning can make any trip, especially a photography oriented one, a pleasant activity no matter where you go.
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It's hard to imagine that something we see and use on a daily basis can exude so much beauty in photography. I'm talking about the scenic paths we hike on and
© 2011 Luis E Gonzalez