Taking photos on my travels is my favorite memory-collector. I also (obviously) use them in my blog posts, so I’ve been striving to take progressively better photos. At the San Diego Travel and Adventure Show, I attended a session by Ralph Velasco, a travel photographer, who shared some wonderful tips.
1. Create a Sense of Place
Ralph showed a photo he’d taken in Cuba of a woman smiling. In the background was a wall painted with Castro’s image. You knew right away where the photo was taken, because there was a sense of place.
2. Know Your Gear Before Your Trip
Great tip. I still don’t know all the settings on my camera, and could stand to spend some time with it beforehand. In other news, I just bought an SD card reader for my tablet so I can upload photos when I don’t have my laptop.
3. Keep Something in the Foreground
Great photo advice in general. He suggested having a person, tree, house, etc. to anchor the scene rather than just having a landscape or ocean shot.
4. Have a Shot List
He talked a lot about the shot list, and even has an app to create a list. Essentially, you build this list before you go out adventuring for the day and know what you want to take. Some ideas:
A scene with a sense of place
A scene with the local language in the background (maybe on a sign)
5. Take at Least 3 Photos Each Time
Ralph suggested taking one overall shot, then one a little zoomed in (the “medium” shot), and one with more detail. Later, you can review and decide which came out the best.
6. Choose a Theme
Another pre-planning tip: decide on a theme you want to center your photographs on. When I was in Saorge, I found myself taking a lot of photos of doors, so that was (inadvertently) a theme. A theme could be bicycles, red things, local faces.
7. Set the Local Date/Time on Camera
He says this helps you know exactly when you took a photo, which is useful if light comes into play.
Ralph stressed the importance of “serendipity and luck” when taking travel photos. Simply being open to what unfolds can get you some amazing shots, which I can attest to. The more photos I take, the better I get at taking them!