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Travel Photography Untold Tips

Updated on January 9, 2011

photo tips 1


As I read some of the entries in the travel photo section I wanted to pass along a few tips about travel photography that I’ve not seen.


Today we are traveling further afield and for many that will include travel to 3rd world countries, and places where we are not familiar with customs and cultures.

The first thing to keep in mind is that the world is not necessarily photographer friendly. In many cultures taking photos is considered rude or even aggressive and you can get into trouble quickly if you start snapping away.

So always start by asking if it is alright for you to take someone’s photo. In some cultures it is considered stealing and you must offer to pay. It doesn’t have to be much but there is a fine line between an offer and an insult so don’t offer a dime or quarter, or offer a choice of somewhere around a dollar or two in their currency or an American coin like a quarter or more.

Remember it isn’t about the money it is about the respect. Often they will tell you it is OK after you ask, especially if you make them feel like a “star” for that moment.

 I paid this girl from the Hui tribe 4 yuanwhich at the time was about .75 US.
The Hui believe that if they do not get paid you are stealing a part of their soul.
They don't believe it is good to smile in a photo.

photo tips 2

Once in a public mall in Colombia I saw an older man physically attacked for taking a photo of a man’s dog as he walked him. He was punched several times and almost had his camera thrown to the ground.

Had the man asked politely I’m fairly sure the owner would have posed with his prized pooch. He would have at least had the chance to say no. Latin countries have a great sense of pride and to intrude is just asking for trouble.

Another concern is safety from the standpoint of being robbed of your camera.

In China I wandered about in some very poor neighborhoods and never felt threatened but I would never think of doing that in a large Colombian city. In small towns it isn’t nearly as much of a concern no matter where you might be. This has to do with the fact that in a small town everyone knows each other and everything is seen. If someone commits a crime everyone will know about it in an hour.

Of course some countries are just more lawless than others. China has very strict laws and harsh punishment, Colombia doesn’t.

For this same reason choose small cameras for most travel rather than large DSLRs. Choose the more discrete colors of silver or black rather than red, blue or any other color that stands out.

If you are taking photos on the street in daylight be sure the flash is turned off, unless really needed.

Finally choose a camera bag that is vague and in descript rather than a bag with the manufacturer’s logo.

For more on this subject or other travel tips, how-tos, and safety info check out my book Smart Safe Traveler at


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    • jasonycc profile image


      7 years ago from South East Asia

      Thanks for the tips. I think they are street smart and useful.


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