Posts Tagged ‘travel’

Nine straight-forward tips from an award-winning travel photographer

13 Jan

Travel photographer Bob Holmes recently put together this quick-tips video for Advancing Your Photography in which he shares nine useful photography tips; or, as Holmes puts it in the video, nine ‘crutches’ for when you feel like the muse has deserted you.

They’re basic tips, but this is what Holmes looks for when he goes out to shoot—lines, punctuation, and energy—and they’re the reason he has managed to continue producing award-winning work year after year after year.

For those of you who prefer reading to watching, here’s a quick summary of all nine tips:

  1. Look for leading lines – they can lead your viewer through the composition
  2. Look for diagonals – they give a dynamic feel to your photos
  3. Look for horizontal lines – they will give a calm feel to your photos
  4. Capture gestures – they can really help your photo pop
  5. Try to find ‘punctuation’ – like a splash of color or a solitary person in a larger landscape
  6. Put energy into your photos – you can do this by capturing movement in the frame
  7. Be receptive – let the picture ‘impress itself’ upon you
  8. Look at art for inspiration – famous paintings are often examples of fantastic composition and great lighting at work.
  9. Look at photography books for inspiration – there’s a reason the Irving Penn’s and Henri Cartier-Bresson’s of the world are still remembered today.

The tips might seem overly simplistic, but simple isn’t always a bad thing when you’re trying to get out of a rut. And it’s not like Bob Holmes doesn’t know what he’s talking about: he’s the only photographer to ever win the Travel Photographer of the Year Award 5 times, most recently in 2017.

Check out the video above for photo to go with each of the tips, and then let us know if you have your own “get out of a rut” routine in the comments.

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5 Ways to Ensure That You Stay Ahead of the Travel Photography “Game”

07 Jan

There’s no doubt about it, the business of travel photography has never been tougher. More competition, an oversaturated market, falling license fees and limited client budgets mean that travel photographers have had to work harder and change their business models. Here are five ways to ensure that you stay ahead of the travel photography “game”.

5 Ways to Ensure That You Stay Ahead of the Travel Photography “Game”

1- Embrace Social Media

It’s hard believe that there was a time before social media. While some of us remember that time and have fond memories, there’s no doubt that social media has become a necessity for any business wanting to market itself. The opportunities to be able to speak to such a huge audience has meant that any brand that hasn’t embraced social media has been left behind.

Like a lot of other people, I was skeptical at first and didn’t really see the point or need for the likes of Instagram and Twitter. But slowly I have come to realize that it really isn’t an option and every photographer needs to embrace social media and maximize its potential.

So if you haven’t already started to do so, begin to learn about how to maximize the different social media channels available. It is integral to the success of your business.

5 Ways to Ensure That You Stay Ahead of the Travel Photography “Game”

2 – Think About ROI

One of the things that I always find interesting when I speak to people wanting to break into travel photography is their expectations of the industry versus the reality. Unfortunately, travel photography is an incredibly oversaturated market. That means there are more photos available than buyers actually need.

This, coupled with a few big stock agencies reducing prices over the years, has meant that the fee paid to photographers for a stock image is lower than it has ever been. The knock-on effect of this has also meant that the majority of clients who previously might have commissioned photographers are now turning to stock photos as it’s cheaper than hiring a photographer.

This means that as a travel photographer, you now have to really evaluate if a destination is worth the investment required. For example, a few years ago I headed to the Orkney Islands off Scotland (somewhere that had been on my bucket list for a while) and captured some great photos. But to this day I have not made enough sales from that trip to cover the cost of it, whereas somewhere like Abu Dhabi has paid for the cost of the trip a few times over. Clearly, a location like Abu Dhabi is a much more popular destination and so it is also more likely to be in demand for photos.

5 Ways to Ensure That You Stay Ahead of the Travel Photography “Game”

Obviously, this doesn’t mean you should never go anywhere like the Orkney Islands. But if you are building your business around those far-flung destinations you may find that you are simply not selling as many photos as you need to cover the cost.

3 – Expand Your Skills

DSLRs changed photography forever. Then smartphones came along and changed the whole industry. The explosion in digital photography has also meant that there is now, even more, an opportunity for unique photographs, but also more competition than ever.

So as a travel photographer, you have to be looking for ways to always expand your skills and repertoire. These days that might be by branching out into video, time lapse, or even drone photography. Whether we like it or not, these new innovations offer a completely new way of looking at the world and if you want to stay ahead of the game you need to try and expand your skills accordingly.

5 Ways to Ensure That You Stay Ahead of the Travel Photography “Game”

4 – Move With The Current Trend

Like most things, photography styles and trends move with the times. While it’s important to always keep your own style if you want to earn a living from photography you also need to ensure that you sell photos.

For example, these days more and more picture editors are looking for travel images that convey an experience or story rather than just a generic tourist type photo. In fact, I recently spoke to one of the stock agencies I work with and they said that their clients are now looking for more lifestyle type of travel shots that almost look like they have been taken with a smartphone rather than in a studio.

The key, as in any other industry, is to stay up to date with the current trends. Sign-up to newsletters, look at magazines and read industry news to ensure you know what is going on and where the trends are going.

5 Ways to Ensure That You Stay Ahead of the Travel Photography “Game”

5 – Re-evaluate Your Business Model

The biggest difference that amateur photographers notice when then move to being a professional is that they have to start treating photography as a business where every dollar is accountable. Like any business, every few years you need to evaluate where you are and where you want the business to go.

That means you might have to change your strategy, your marketing, and even as mentioned above your offering as a business (like video or time-lapse). No business can ever survive forever without changing with the times and photography is no different.

So if you haven’t done so already, think about your business and where it is and where it needs to go to to stay in the game.

5 Ways to Ensure That You Stay Ahead of the Travel Photography “Game”

Photographers are often some of the most creative people in the world. But very few often evaluate and relaunch their business to move with the times. Whether we like it or not, change is constantly happening in every industry and photography is no different. Unless you are willing to ensure your photography business can and will evolve, you might be left behind.

The post 5 Ways to Ensure That You Stay Ahead of the Travel Photography “Game” by Kav Dadfar appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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Top Street and Travel Photography Tips 2017

01 Jan

If you’ve been reading over the last few of days you may have seen these already:

  • The Best Landscape Articles on dPS in 2017
  • Top Portrait Photography Tips of the Year on dPS in 2017
  • Most Popular Post-Processing Articles of 2017
  • Best Beginner Photography Articles 2017
  • Reviews and Articles on Photography Gear – 2017

Top Street Photography Tips 2017

  1. The Ultimate Guide to Street Photography
  2. What are the Best Street Photography Camera Settings and Why
  3. How to Conquer the Biggest Fear in Street Photography
  4. Tutorial – Easy Camera Settings for Street Photography
  5. 7 Vital Tips to Improve Your Candid Street Photography
  6. 6 Reasons Why You Should Use a Standard Lens for Street Photography
  7. The Pros and Cons of Black and White Versus Color for Street and Travel Photography
  8. 7 Tips for Capturing the Decisive Moment in Street Photography
  9. How to Tell a Story With Your Street Photography
  10. 5 Tips for Photographing Street Portraits

Top Travel Photography Tips 2017

  1. 6 Reasons Why Your Travel Photos Don’t Look Like the Ones in Magazines
  2. 7 Non-Photography Items Which No Travel Photographer Should Leave Home Without
  3. 6 Practical Tips to Instantly Make Travel Photography Easier
  4. 7 Travel Photography Tips I’ve Learned from People in the Industry
  5. 8 Travel Photography Tips for Your Next Journey
  6. 10 Quick Tips for Travel Photography
  7. How to Backup and Manage Your Photos When Traveling Without a Computer
  8. How to Shoot Engaging Travel Portraits from Start to Finish
  9. How to Plan a Street Photography Shoot When Traveling
  10. Tips for Taking Documentary Style Travel Photos
  11. 7 Realities That Hit Once You Become a Professional Travel Photographer

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How to Create Powerful Travel Photos that Will WOW Your Friends [2 Days Only]

19 Dec

Have you ever said ‘This is nothing like what I saw!’ when looking at the images you took of a trip?

Travel Photographer of the Year (and dPS Book Author) Mitchell Kanashkevich has created an amazing “Behind the Scenes” photography course that’s a blueprint for creating power photographs. 

It’s all about helping you to capture the magic of the experiences you have when travelling and come home with images that will wow your family and friends.

For the next 48 hours, as an exclusive offer to dPS readers, he’s offering his course at 70% off the normal price. 

That means for the next 2 days you can get his beautifully crafted travel photography course for $ 39.95 instead of $ 129.97.

In this online Course you’ll Learn: 

  • How to search for that amazing photo (includes the first obvious question that’s rarely asked)
  • The truth about compositional rules and more organic and fluid ways of looking at composition 
  • Why being a photo sniper makes no sense in the digital age
  • The crucial factors that make the difference between a great photo and one that falls short
  • Can a great image be the result of an accident? (Confession time, but it’s not what you might think)
  • The practical approach to capturing the moment
  • … and much more

Mitchell provides an over the shoulder editing experience as well as providing RAW files, so you can practice the same techniques on them in post-processing.

Check out the full course outline here.

… you only have 48 hours (and counting) though, so be quick.

Bonus Offer from our Partners

Anyone who picks up any of the great deals this week also unlocks some great bonus deals from our partners.

For example if you pick up Mitchell’s course today you’ll get access to KelbyOne annual membership at 20% off the normal price. Access our exclusive Partner Bonus Offers here.

Christmas Deals:
Bonus Offers

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Brought to you by

Athentec Perfectly Clear
New York Institute of Photography

The post How to Create Powerful Travel Photos that Will WOW Your Friends [2 Days Only] by Darren Rowse appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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Putting the Fine Art into Travel Photography

18 Dec

“Fine Art” when it comes to travel photography is not an often used term and few photographers define themselves as “fine art travel photographers”. Genre definitions in photography can be highly subjective, and the fine art line can be very fine indeed. For me as a travel shooter, the fine art approach is just a natural extension of who I am and how I see and share the world through my images.

Vietnam is one of my favorite places to photograph, not only because of its remarkable aesthetic qualities but because of my great fondness for its people. And so when asked talk about my photography through the fine art lens, using Vietnam as the focal point was an easy choice to make.

Putting the Fine Art into Travel Photography - Vietnam rice terraces

Flower H’mong mother and daughter walking a rice terrace berm in Mu Cang Chai, northern Vietnam. Exposure settings: f/4, 1/2000th, ISO 400, 70mm lens.

fishermen resting on Boats - Putting the Fine Art into Travel Photography

Fishermen resting. Shot from a bridge near Lang Co Bay. Exposure settings: f/8, 1/320th, ISO 800, 56mm lens.

The Fine Art of Travel Photography – People and Landscapes

Fine art photography, at least the way I see it, is about focusing on a specific style or look that reoccurs in every image with a goal to create aesthetically pleasing and engaging work.

Fine art travel photography implies that each travel-themed photo is of a very high artistic standard with consistent consideration to an effective composition, use of tonal range (lights and darks), and a balanced or focused color scheme throughout the photo.

Personally, I use natural light, and again, approach a photo to be a work of art. The goal is to create a visually striking image that looks similar to what a painter might have created, while still also looking completely like a photograph.

Fishermen in Halong Bay - Putting the Fine Art into Travel Photography

Fishing amidst the thousands of karst limestone formations of fabled Ha Long Bay. Exposure settings: f/9, 1/200th, ISO 800, 35mm lens.

Fishermen Ballet - Putting the Fine Art into Travel Photography

Four fishermen raise their nets on the Perfume River in Hue, central coastal Vietnam. Exposure settings: f/11, 1/160th, ISO 800, 30mm lens.

Showcase the people and culture

I aim to do this while still faithfully representing a country’s culture, with the goal to accurately, if ideally, portray the personality and lives of the people within the photos. I have always been most interested in the artistic side of travel photography, and less so in the traditional or documentary approach.

That said, I can see myself taking on more singularly focused projects in the future, where I can apply my artistic sense to the challenges of documentary storytelling within the travel space.

Vietnamese Monk - Putting the Fine Art into Travel Photography

A Khmer-Vietnamese monk daydreams at his monastery window in the Meklong Delta region. Exposure settings: f/4, 1/125th, ISO 640, 40mm lens.

Set your intention of making art

Although it may seem obvious, I think it’s critically important when adopting the fine art style to have the intention of making art throughout the process – from preparation to post-production. I take this mindset into the field and shoot a variety of subjects in various ways.

Portraiture is my first love, but I also enjoy landscape, wildlife, and cultural documentary photography. The purpose is to showcase scenes of life and culture for others to observe and enjoy. And of course I enjoy it as well, or I wouldn’t be doing it!

Playing in the River - Putting the Fine Art into Travel Photography

Ladies from the Cham ethnic group in Phan Rang having their own water festival. Exposure settings: f/36, 1/15th, ISO 400, 90mm lens.

Lady in Conical Hat - Putting the Fine Art into Travel Photography

Vietnamese lady wearing the traditional white “Ao Dai” and Non La (conical hat), Saigon. Exposure settings: f/4, 1/125th, ISO 640, 70mm lens.

Have a vision and shoot with a purpose

In each work, I try to have a vision and understand what the photo will be about and how it will look in my mind before I take it. There is nothing in the frame that shouldn’t be there – everything included serves a purpose.

I also like to look for patterns in the scenes and feature these in the composition. Careful composition allows for clean backgrounds, no unnecessary distractions from the subject, and a clear focal point that is immediately identifiable against a complementary background that helps to tell the story or set the mood for the piece.

Below is some insight into how I approached photographing some of my favorite Vietnam images taken over the last few years.

Forever in Love

Forever in Love - Putting the Fine Art into Travel Photography

“Forever in Love” – A loving couple in Hoi An share a moment of joy and happiness together in their garden as the sun sets. At the time of photography, they had been married for 66 years. Exposure settings: f/7.1, 1/200th, ISO 500, 50mm lens.

I met a fellow travel photographer who now resides in Vietnam, Réhahn Croquevielle, and he generously invited to show me around his hometown of Hoi An. I was lucky to meet a lovely old couple who live in his village. When I met them they were smiling widely and happy be photographed by us.

To take this photo, I first observed the direction of light. Then I made sure to position them in front of the setting sunlight so their faces would be bright and the details on their skin well exposed.

I also had to consider the background and overall scene, and I found an area near one of their vegetable patches which was clean (consistent colors and even patterns without clutter) while also providing context and a backstory for the couple. So I asked them to sit there. They found this all very funny and were laughing constantly as we kept the mood light and fun, which I think is important to help make subjects enjoy a portrait session.

Interesting subject matter is the most important element to a successful photograph, in my opinion, followed by good composition and lighting. But a background that complements and doesn’t distract from the focal point is also crucial for a powerful photograph, and perhaps too often overlooked.

Playing in a Sea of Fishing Nets

Playing in a Sea of Fishing Nets - Playing in a Sea of Fishing Nets

A happy boy playing in a blue sea of fishing nets in the Mekong Delta region of southern Vietnam. Exposure settings: f/8, 1/250th, ISO 500, 24mm lens.

I was in search of a workshop where fishing nets are made by hand in the Mekong Delta region of Vietnam. When I arrived, I noticed a boy and his friends were curious about my presence and wanted to meet me and help out if they could. They led me to the net weaving shop, which was a large open-ended structure with a corrugated tin roof.

Inside were seated ladies spread about busily creating these nets. I was immediately struck by the blue color and knew it would be very photogenic, but it was important to get the right light to make them come to life. I noticed all the ladies were in shaded, darker areas where the light wasn’t strong enough. There was an area that was close to an opening in the rooftop, under a natural skylight. I saw that the light was good there, but without a human subject the photo wouldn’t be so interesting.

Since I had created a rapport with the boy and his friends and they were still hanging around, I encouraged them to play in the fishing nets. Demonstrating myself, I ran and jumped into the nets, making everyone laugh, and the kids started to do the same themselves. I captured this photo knowing that the frame had to be filled with the blue fishing nets to bring attention to the boy. It’s his genuine smile and action that makes this photo all the more interesting and enjoyable to view.

Patterns on the Streets of Hanoi

Patterns on the Streets of Hanoi - Putting the Fine Art into Travel Photography

A busy street scene in Hanoi photographed from a bridge on a rainy morning. Exposure settings: f/14, 1/40th, ISO 1250, 35mm lens.

It was raining one morning that I was to be exploring the city of Hanoi, which could have been considered a problem for photography. I went to the Long Bien Bridge after visiting a nearby market and observed the traffic passing by underneath me. I saw the potential for a really interesting pattern of cyclists with the high volume of motorbike traffic and the occasional bicycle. The rain had stopped, but the wet roads were creating reflections which would ultimately be beneficial and make for more dynamic lighting in the picture.

I waited a long time and photographed many combinations and patterns of commuters. I felt it was important to have an interesting focal point that was different from the rest of the scene. That was either going to be a person walking across the road or riding a bicycle amongst the sea of cars and other traffic.

I decided to use a slightly slower shutter speed to blur the traffic and capture the human subject sharper than the surroundings. It took a lot of patience and time on the bridge to finally capture an interesting pattern. It was fun to find the art in simple, everyday life.

Old Man with a Lute

Old Man with Lute - Putting the Fine Art into Travel Photography

Exposure settings: f/4, 1/160th, ISO 1000, 70mm lens.

I met this old man in the small idyllic village of Ninh Binh where he was walking by a lake. When he learned that I would like to make his portrait, he invited me into his home close by. We drank some tea and I spent some time together with his family.

Before I photograph someone, I always look around the scene and try to find the right place where I will take their picture, depending on the lighting and the background. I noticed near a window there was strong natural light coming into his otherwise dark home, and I placed a chair in this spot for him to sit. There was enough light on the man to not require a tripod in this position.

I noticed an old lute hanging on the wall. I found out that it was his and he could play, so I asked if he could show me. As he played, I took some pictures, but I noticed that the light would be stronger on his face, which is the main focal point if he were looking out the window. The breeze from the window blew his beard gently to one side, creating some movement in this portrait of an interesting, old and very friendly Vietnamese man who I was privileged to meet and photograph.

Here are a few more example images of my fine art travel photography.

Fisherman at Sunrise

Girl with Blue Eyes

Lady with Fan

Mekong Breakfast

Running and Playing

Salt Harvesters


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Video: Travel Photography Tips – Shoot with a Purpose

15 Dec

The challenge with travel photography is that you may not get back to a location again anytime soon. So many photographers try and squeeze out as many photos as possible. The issue is lack of attention to detail and having any intentions or purpose before shooting.

What do you want your image to show?

Waiting for the right gesture, or even right subject to enter your scene is critical.

In this image shot in Trinidad, Cuba I found some amazing light skimming across the cobblestone streets. But it lacked something.

By waiting for a subject, the couple, to enter the scene it is more of a complete story.

In this video, photographer Mitchell gives you some great examples of how to shoot lots of images but end up with better results than just rapid-fire shooting.

The key points mentioned in the video are:

  • It’s not about shooting as many images as possible, but to shoot as many as possible with a purpose and intent.
  • Don’t settle for one or two shots from each scene. Get out of the mindset of needing to get the perfect shot in as few frames as possible. It’s not a contest.
  • Don’t spray and pray. Have an idea of what you want to capture.
  • Explore different framings and camera settings.
  • See how the light changes from different angles.
  • Experiment with different perspectives.

Another example

Here you can see some shots I took of two men deep in conversation in Cienfuegos, Cuba. But it still wasn’t quite what I wanted. The first (upper left) was too busy. The second (right) was more focused on the med but lacked context of the busy street scene. The third (lower left) shot from across is getting closer. 

Finally with the addition of the cyclist I had the shot I had envisioned. It shows context, has layers of activity, and interest. To me, it really speaks about daily life in a Cuban city. 

Do you photograph with purpose? Slow down and think about each frame you shoot. Be intentional.

And come home with great photos!

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How to Shoot Engaging Travel Portraits from Start to Finish

19 Nov

I love travel portraits. Not only do they test your photography skills but also challenge you to interact with people in unfamiliar environments. The end result directly reflects your subject’s personality along with your ability to make them feel at ease, read the light, select optimal settings, and compose a great shot.

How to Shoot Engaging Travel Portraits from Start to Finish:

A boy named Ashim and his father at Dasaswamedh Ghat – Varanasi, India.

Every photographer has a slightly different approach, which evolves with every new person you meet and country you visit. Join me as I walk you through an encounter from start to finish and share tips on how to shoot engaging travel portraits.

1 – Approach the person and get permission

As a photographer, it’s up to you to develop your own code of ethics. However, I implore you to seek permission and not just stick a camera in someone’s face. The initial approach can often be the hardest part; taking the shot is comparatively easy.

Aim for a consensual, mutually enjoyable exchange from which you can both walk away with a happy story to tell. Be open, smile, and pay people compliments.

How to Shoot Engaging Travel Portraits from Start to Finish:

Boy monks at Rumtek Monastery – Sikkim, India. I kept my camera at my side, introduced myself, and asked their names. Their answers made me regret leaving my notebook in the car (Sikkimese names are notoriously long). They wanted to talk about soccer. When I asked for a photo, the boy on the right jumped and said “I know a good place. Follow me!” It was a fun encounter and their personalities shone through in the pictures because they’d had a chance to chat about their favorite topic.

If it’s a firm no, you can smile warmly, tell them it’s absolutely fine, and ask them if they would like to see photos you’ve taken of the local area. This way, you can both still walk away having had a pleasant experience, and sometimes, they even change their mind.

2 – Communicate for a meaningful experience

Your challenge now is to make your subject feel at ease. The best portraits come when people are relaxed and open to you. Most crucially, don’t rush the photo, say goodbye, and walk away. Show genuine interest in their lives.

Ask questions if you can speak a mutual language. If not, remember that much of your intentions and warmth can be communicated through body language, facial expressions, and gestures.

How to Shoot Engaging Travel Portraits from Start to Finish:

Ba-An, an 81-year-old lady, in front of the Banaue rice terraces – Luzon, Philippines. I will remember Ba-An because I had the longest and most interesting conversation I’ve had with anyone before taking their portrait. “These? They’re chicken feathers,” she said when I asked about her headdress. “Sometimes I tell people it is tradition, but really, we just started doing it a few years ago!”

3 – Read the light and use it to your advantage

With permission granted and your subject warming to you, the next step is reading the light. Whether it’s day or night, look at the lighting conditions around you. Consider asking your subject to turn their body or move completely to seek the best light.

How to Shoot Engaging Travel Portraits from Start to Finish:

While waiting for a Hindu ceremony to begin, this gentleman wobbled his head enthusiastically and motioned towards my camera – Varanasi, India. Sometimes, as in this situation, when people see you photographing others in a respectful manner, they may prompt you to take their portrait. I asked him to turn so that the light from a spotlight would be cast across his face at a less harsh angle.

4 – Select your settings

Ideally, you have a fixed focal length (prime) lens with a wide aperture attached to your camera body. However, if you’re traveling, you may have an all-purpose zoom lens attached. I like portraits that I’ve taken with both types.

With my fixed focal lens, I often shoot portraits at f/2.8 or slightly above. If you shoot any wider, the focal plane can be so thin that you risk your subject’s eyes being in focus but having their nose out of focus. For a zoom lens, I recommend selecting your widest aperture but standing further away from your subject. Zooming in on their face will accentuate the shallow depth of field effect that works so well for portraits.

How to Shoot Engaging Travel Portraits from Start to Finish

A Muslim traveler at Haji Ali Dargah, an Islamic shrine off the coast of Mumbai – India. My settings and lens for this portrait were f/2.8 | 1/1600th | ISO 160 | Sigma 35mm 1.4 Art lens. The fast shutter speed allowed by using f/2.8 picked out fine details on the man’s face. Such a fast shutter wasn’t necessary for this level of sharpness but it was an extremely bright day in Mumbai.

For engaging portraits, the most important element requiring sharp focus is the eyes. I suggest setting your camera to spot focus on the center AF point. Next, aim the center point at one of your subject’s eyes. Use the focus and recompose method or even better – the back button focus method to lock in on the eyes. This will ensure they’re in sharp focus in the finished photo.

5 – Choose a strong composition

Numerous compositions can work for portraits. The rule of thirds can work incredibly well but try not to wear it out or all your travel portraits will look the same.

Another one to try is placing one of your subject’s eyes directly in the center of the frame; a study proved that portraits composed this way appeal to viewers on a subconscious level. I promise I’m not making that up. This can be applied in portrait or landscape orientation.

A general rule exists in travel portraiture that you shouldn’t place your subject directly in the center of the frame; however, rules are made to be broken sometimes.

How to Shoot Engaging Travel Portraits from Start to Finish

As I stood taking pictures of the Banaue rice terraces, I heard a frail voice saying “Photo? Who is taking a photo?” It belonged to a 96-year-old woman named Bah Gu-An. She was completely blind. I wasn’t sure how to communicate as I normally would for a portrait so took her hands in mine to let her know I was there. Her friends translated back and forth for us. I decided on a rule of thirds composition because I felt the blue umbrella added extra visual interest and balance to the frame.

6 – Come down to their eye level

Try not to stand above your subject if they are sitting. This is intimidating and works against your goal to relax them. Positive psychological things happen when you come down to someone’s eye level. Take a look at the example below.

How to Shoot Engaging Travel Portraits from Start to Finish

A Hindu holy man on a tiny island in the Brahmaputra River – Assam, India. This is not a touristy location in India so he is the real deal. I sat down on the step to receive a blessing. Accompanied by mystical chanting, I drank some lukewarm tea of unknown provenance, had air blown all over my face, and ash spread across my forehead. We chatted after and I felt in no rush to suggest a portrait. It was a fascinating experience. What do you think when you look at his facial expression – Is the time spent together palpable?

7 – Shoot different styles of portrait

Posed versus candid portraits

Posed refers to approaching a person and asking them to sit for a portrait, whereas candid portraits refer to catching a person in an unguarded moment. This doesn’t have to mean without permission.

For the image below, I’d already gained this lady’s trust and permission but waited until she’d forgotten that I was there to continue shooting. Later, I showed her all of the photos, which she seemed happy with.

How to Shoot Engaging Travel Portraits from Start to Finish

A devotee watches the nightly Ganga Aarti ceremony – Varanasi, India. This image could be called a candid environmental portrait.

Headshot versus environmental portraits

A headshot refers to filling the frame with your subject’s face. The background is not important for setting the scene, although you might consider finding one of a complementary color to your subject’s clothing, skin tone, or eye color. Environmental portraits are zoomed out to allow your subject’s surroundings into the frame to add to their story.

8 – Shoot a series with the same subject

When you have someone’s permission and have bonded with them, consider staying with them a while and shooting a series of images. This is what I did when I met one man in the Philippines recently. I directed him gently for a series of shots after telling him how interested people would be to learn about his culture. He was happy to oblige.

How to Shoot Engaging Travel Portraits from Start to Finish

I would have kicked myself if I’d walked away without getting a side profile shot of this man and his headdress that featured the real heads of a long-dead bird and monkey.

How to Shoot Engaging Travel Portraits from Start to Finish

I decided to fill the frame here to draw attention to his excellent smile, patterned clothes, and monkey headdress.

9 – Always remember aftercare

Aftercare means bringing the encounter to a close in the best possible manner. I believe an extra layer exists as to why the verb is to “take” a portrait. You are taking something from them, but what are you giving in return?

Make sure you show the person their image on the back of your camera, pay them a compliment, and thank them sincerely. So much joy can come from this simple act.

How to Shoot Engaging Travel Portraits from Start to Finish

A man named Ibrahim at the Haji Ali Dargah, Mumbai. As we sat together cross-legged on the ground enthusiastically shaking hands at the side of a busy walkway, I could tell from his reaction and those of passersby that this wasn’t a common occurrence. The overall encounter lingered with me for the rest of the day, and I sincerely hope that Ibrahim remembers it fondly too.


I want to know your best advice for shooting travel portraits and see the images you’re most proud of. Be sure to share them in the comments section below.

The post How to Shoot Engaging Travel Portraits from Start to Finish by Ben McKechnie appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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MeFOTO launches MeVIDEO brand with new GlobeTrotter travel video tripod

17 Oct

Manufacturer of colorful travel tripods MeFOTO is launching its first video tripod via a Kickstarter campaign, and there’s a new brand name to along with it. The MeVIDEO GlobeTrotter will be the first of this ‘new’ company’s tripods, and will feature a new leveling head design and a choice of aluminum or carbon fibre legs.

With a maximum payload of 8.8lbs/4kg, this travel tripod is aimed at the serious video market, including those using large DSLRs and lower end dedicated professional video cameras.

The MeVIDEO GlobeTrotter comes with an aluminum ball and socket-style leveling platform, and a head that offers a long panning handle. The handle can be switched for left or right-handed users, and the four-section legs spread to three positions as well as reverse folding for storage.

For low angled shooting, the center column can be split in two so the shoulders can be dropped close to the ground, and the top half of the column can be attached to one of the tripod legs to create a monopod. MeVIDEO also allows the head to be completely removed from the shoulders and leveling platform, so it can be used on other accessories such as a slider or crane.

The GlobeTrotter will have a maximum height of 65.7in/166.8cm and packs away to 21.9in/55.7cm. It will weigh 6.06lb/2.75kg in carbon fibre and 6.64lb/3.01kg in aluminum.

Users will have a choice of black or ‘titanium’ finishes, both of which are expected to cost $ 500 for the aluminum version, and $ 700 for the carbon fibre version although there are, of course, special deals for those pledging support for the campaign at an early stage. The company expects to ship in January 2018.

For more information or if you’d like to put down a pledge of your own, visit the MeVIDEO Kickstarter page.

Press Release

MeFOTO Announces Launch of MeVIDEO Offering First-Of-Its-Kind Travel Video Tripod

MeVIDEO’s sleek design and unmatched usability provides on-the-go filmmakers with an exceptional video tripod experience.

MeFOTO, the innovative tripod manufacturer, today announced the launch of MeVIDEO, a new sister company focusing on the film and video market with a travel video tripod available now on Kickstarter. Incredibly durable, lightweight, thoughtful and intuitive, MeVIDEO is the ultimate high-quality and full-featured travel video tripod.

“We created MeVIDEO with one simple goal: to create the best compact, travel-friendly, user-friendly video tripod ever for today’s on-the-go filmmakers and videographers. We wanted to create a tripod that makes sense from the moment you put your hands on it; something detailed, yet approachable – and then, to make it incredibly beautiful”
Brian Hynes, MeFOTO + MeVIDEO Brand Marketing Manager.

MeVIDEO GlobeTrotter features include:

  • Reverse folding legs to allow for a more compact folded form that makes it perfect for traveling
  • Integrated Leveling Platform for precise, intuitive positioning of your camera on the center column without needing to adjust legs.
  • Removable Flat Base Head featuring ratchet-style metal adjustment knobs for leveling.
  • Head can be used on other flat surfaces such as certain sliders, jibs, half ball adapters and more.
  • Split/center column allows for maximum flexibility as well as providing the ability to get very low to the ground.
  • Support for multiple cameras ranging from the Sony A6500, Panasonic GH5, Sony A7SII, Canon 5D Mark IV to the Canon C100.
  • Independent locking positions for the legs allow for easy setup on any terrain.
  • Integrated, stainless steel spikes can be expanded or retracted into the rubber feet for stability on any surface.
  • Converts to a monopod. Simply unscrew the center column and combine with the padded leg.
  • Available in anodized aluminum or carbon fiber in black or titanium and comes with a padded canvas carrying case for additional protection when traveling.


MeVIDEO launched their Kickstarter campaign today, with the goal of raising $ 50,000. Kickstarter contributors will receive a discounted rate of $ 349 for the aluminum and $ 499 for the carbon fiber model. When MeVIDEO publicly launches in early 2018, the retail price is expected to be $ 499 for the aluminum and $ 699 for the carbon fiber model.

About MeFOTO:

MeFOTO offers two styles and multiple sizes of strategically designed travel tripods in both aluminum and carbon fiber in a variety of colors. They are ideal for on-the-go photographers, and now filmmakers, at every experience level. and

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Tips for Taking Documentary Style Travel Photos

14 Oct

Documentary style photography has long been of great fascination to me. The sheer act of photographing people and places to document spontaneous moments and the imperfections associated with it gives such photography, and the photographer, a sense of being authentic, real, and free to exercise his/her creative freedom.

Officially, documentary style photography has many technical definitions. As per Wikipedia, documentary style of photography is used to chronicle events and environments in a naturally occurring state very much like photojournalism. I like to think of a documentary style of photography as the letting go of my inhibitions and preconceived notions of perfection. That I’m documenting people and places in their natural environment – being or doing what they do on any given day.

Tips for Taking Documentary Style Travel Photos

This scene literally happened right in front of me in Jaipur, India – the classic story of the billy goats!

I find that by approaching travel photography in a documentary fashion, I am able to have a richer travel experience. Because I can relieve my mind of the pressures of photographing just like everyone else and also walk away with some unique frames that speak to my own experiences.

To that end, here are a few tips to keep in mind for a documentary style approach towards your travel photography.

#1 – Be present in the moment

Being present in every moment of every day is a life lesson we all can benefit from. It doesn’t just apply to travel photography. Great moments happen every day around us that are worth documenting not just for our clients but also for ourselves so that we can live a richer, fuller life.

Tips for Taking Documentary Style Travel Photos

People watching is a great exercise in training your eye to really catch that which is unusual and unique to a place – these boys in the market in Jaipur were observing me just as much as I was observing them!

By training your mind to really live life in the moment and not worry about all the other distractions will also help you really “see” what is around you. More often than not, you likely travel with a very tight agenda and timeline. No sooner than you get to your destination, you are already mentally prepared to move on to the next stop. Instead, try and plan a single excursion for a day and really focus on learning and experiencing that place or activity before moving on.

#2 – Be observant of your surroundings

Life is happening all around you all the time. People interacting with each other, people interacting with nature, nature putting on a grand show during sunrise, sunset, or even during a thunderstorm. But don’t wait for some preconceived notion of the perfect moment to take your camera out and take a photo.

At the same time, don’t see the world simply through your viewfinder. Observe the scene, anticipate the shot that you really want to get and be ready to take the shot. Don’t just fire away at every situation only to get home to realize that you completed missed the moment and hence missed the shot as well.

Tips for Taking Documentary Style Travel Photos

I once found myself in the middle of a village festival/ritual when I was traveling in India. I had no idea what was going on but knew I had to document this. Luckily a female photographer was somewhat of a rarity in this village and I was given a special seat in the middle of all the action (without a word spoken amongst me and these women)! It was fascinating to see and experience.

Tips for Taking Documentary Style Travel Photos

I later found out that these women were taking one of the female members of their family to each house to get blessings as she was supposed to be possessed by a female deity and have god-like powers…certainly an experience I will never forget!

#3 – Be real about your travel photography goals

A very famous travel quote says, “We travel not to escape life, but so that life does not escape us” really hits the nail on the head for me. Be real about why you travel and what you want to gain out of each travel experience. If you are traveling to a marketplace and want to get a true sense of local lifestyles and customs, then look for naturally occurring scenes. Don’t look for people that you can pose or stage to get your shot.

Tips for Taking Documentary Style Travel Photos

This is by no means a perfect shot but I love the fact that this angle shows just how crazy transportation choices can be in smaller villages and towns in some countries!

#4 – Be aware of your gear choices

Packing for any sort of travel is an art in itself, especially if you are going away for an extended period of time. Documentary style travel photography requires a slightly different mindset in terms of gear than say perhaps wildlife or portrait photography.

I find that for documentary style travel photography a zoom lens like the ultra-wide angle focal length like the Canon 16-35mm f/4 or one like the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 works well for me. While a fast lens is ideal, I don’t usually find myself photographing at an aperture lower than f/4 or f/5.6. More often than not, I have more than one subject in the scene and also want to capture some of the background in order to provide content to the shot.

Tips for Taking Documentary Style Travel Photos

I was in Rome for three days this past summer but couldn’t get the famous Spanish Steps without people no matter what time of the day I tried. So instead, I chose to embrace the crowds and showcase this famous monument as the tourist attraction it really is!

#5 – Be confident in your skills

Documentary style photography is generally quite fast paced. You are trying to capture a scene as it is playing out in front of you. You don’t really have the time or the opportunity to re-compose the shot and then click the shutter. However, this does not mean

However, this does not mean that you have to just fire away at the maximum fps (frames per second) that your camera can handle, then pick the best of the lot in post-processing. Instead, use your technical as well as artistic skills to read the scene, analyze the light, assess the right camera settings, imagine the outcome, anticipate the shot and then take the picture. Oh, by the way, bear in mind that you will not likely get a redo.

Portland Mountains from the flight - Tips for Taking Documentary Style Travel Photos

I had almost no time to really plan this shot out…I knew I wanted to try and get all three of the famous peaks of the Pacific Northwest in one frame while at about 35,000 feet in the air.


I hope these tips convey my love for documentary style photography and do not scare you away from it. This style of photography has its own charm. Even though it may appear to be highly unplanned and random, it is also a good mix of carefully anticipated planning and authenticity. Give it a try the next time you travel and let me know how it goes.

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Is a Career in Travel Photography Right for You?

04 Sep

It sounds tempting and exotic. Traveling the world taking photos and seeing those photos appear in newspapers and magazines can be thrilling but are you made for a career in travel photography? Here are seven ways to know if a career in travel photography is right for you.

Is a Career in Travel Photography Right for You?

#1 – You have a longing to travel

The first requirement of being a travel photographer is actually enjoying traveling but it’s more than that. It’s a restlessness that simply doesn’t go away no matter what you are doing or where you have already been. You simply can’t sit still and want to explore everything and everywhere. Does that sound like you?

But it’s also important to remember that taking photos while traveling is different than traveling to take photos. Your time on the road as a travel photographer has one reason and one reason only and that’s to take photos. Nothing else matters and nothing can come between you and your next great shot.

Is a Career in Travel Photography Right for You?

#2 – You enjoy your own company

Travel photography is a lonely business and most of your time is spent on the road with your own thoughts. Yes you’ll have the odd conversation with a local but ultimately you are working alone. You are usually awake and out and about before others and you usually end up being the last one back to the hotel room. While spending time on your own can sometimes be nice, can you handle days, weeks or even months by yourself?

Is a Career in Travel Photography Right for You?

#3 – You can adapt quickly

There is a common theme amongst travel photographers and that is “not enough time”. You will usually find yourself with a long shot list and not enough time to fulfil it. So you need to be able to adapt quickly and hit the ground running straightaway, even in new destinations. There won’t be time to spend a couple of days getting to know a destination and every second wasted is eating into your time needed to cover off your shot list.

But you also need to learn to adapt while you are at a destination, for example, if the weather is causing problems to your shot list. You need to be able to think, act, and plan quickly and efficiently.

Is a Career in Travel Photography Right for You?

#4 – You have an eye for what people want

I remember learning very early in my career as a travel photographer that you need to learn what people want to see. This is a business after all, and the only way that you can earn a living from it is by being able to sell your images or getting paid for assignments. Some photographers are better at this than others. Ultimately the success or failure of your photography business comes down to being able to give people what they want to see and what they will pay for.

Part of this will come with experience through years of seeing which of your images sell. But you also need to actively spend time researching and looking at trends in the travel industry, be in the know with up and coming destinations and the news. For example a major airline could be starting a new route, or a previously “closed off” country could be opening its doors to tourists.

Is a Career in Travel Photography Right for You?

One of my images recently used by Tatler.

#5 – You can function with little sleep

There’s no getting around it, being a travel photographer on location is tiring work. You often have to function on little sleep as you’ll be getting up before sunrise, spending all day walking around, then hanging around until well after sunset to capture great shots.

In the summer months that could mean having to get by with just a few hours of sleep a night. Add to that carrying camera equipment all day and not eating properly and you will quickly learn that being on a photo assignment is completely different than being on holiday.

Is a Career in Travel Photography Right for You?

#6 – You are confident

As a travel photographer, you often have to do things by yourself. Whether that is adapting to a new location, finding your way around a city or trying to explain to a local why you want to take their photo. But arguably the biggest requirement for a travel photographer is being confident in your ability to capture great photos that will go on to sell.

Unlike working in a studio when you can set up and art direct your shoot and make adjustments as necessary, as a travel photographer sometimes you only get one shot at documenting a location. You may only have a few days at any given place so you have to capture what you need to in that time.

Because of this you need to believe in your ability both to compose and frame your photos, making sure things like the lighting and the subject are right, but also in your ability to execute that shot perfectly. Sometimes there are no second chances to correct a photo that is blurred or poorly focused.

Is a Career in Travel Photography Right for You?

#7 – You can work quickly

Travel photography is about telling the story of that destination. Whether it’s a famous monument, a beautiful cityscape or a local going about their day, a travel photographer’s job is to capture that. Often those moments are fleeting and don’t stay around for long. For example the gap in the flow of traffic in front of that famous monument could just be a few minutes. Or the interaction between a market vendor and a customer could last a few seconds. Even capturing landscape or city shots could only have a short window where the light is perfect.

The only way to ensure you don’t miss these moments is to be able to work quickly. This means being ready and knowing how to use your camera completely. With practice over time you will naturally improve and get faster in your work and your camera will become an extension of your arm.

Is a Career in Travel Photography Right for You?


Despite all of these points, there really aren’t many jobs that can give you the same excitement, anticipation, and satisfaction as being a travel photographer. Seeing your work published makes all of the early mornings and endless hours of walking around and waiting worth it.

So do you think a career in travel photography is right for you? Share your thoughts below.

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