A primer on travel photography themes, for my friend Mary, who just got her first dSLR
Travel photography is like a timelapse video, except the subject is always changing. Arriving at a new place, your attention is on overloadâ€”look at that! The temptation is to snap everything in sight, gorging the memory card with content. Itâ€™s fun to be trigger happy on a trip, but it can also be overwhelming. Even if your goal is to make images for the family slideshow, there are some themes that will help you organize your travel photography so you can more fully tell the story of a tripâ€”a story tipsy with content and composed with beautiful imagery.
Reaching a balance between being open to the unexpected and staying true to your themes can produce a travel photo collection that includes a full range of imagery, a complete account of a changing story.
I have a friend who puts away his camera as soon as the sun is sinking. But most cameras made after 2007 have really good â€˜vision,â€™ meaning their sensors are able to â€˜seeâ€™ in the dark and record clean enough images that can spice up your travel photo montage. So donâ€™t put away your camera just yet when you see the sun setting. You might just get some amazing shots.
Photos of people are some of the most interesting and memorable images of a place. It may be a little intimidating, but try taking photos of strangers, and when you do, try to tell their story. It helps to include a detail or two that contextualize the portrait: What are they doing? Who are they with? The charm of a portrait is in its details.
Fauna and flora
Animals and flowers are great story bits. I was in Ayuddhya and visited the elephant camp there. As soon as I entered the camp, I spotted a young elephant jogging around the compound, and then caught him when he was tired, plopping down and bathing himself in early morning sun.
At another place in tropical Bangkok, there were these lilies all in a row, graceful and delicate in a shallow depth of field at a wide-open aperture.
Images that record events give a depth to travel photography. The story of work, for example, tells a lot about a place. What people value and how they interact with their environment are often revealed when we learn about how they work and live.
When we make travel photos, we also make our memories of that place tangible, a story captured that will withstand the passing of time.
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