Today, I want to share some advice on how to make some epic photographs during your travels. Creating great photography is fun, but sometimes it requires patience. We often find a beautiful scene; we compose, press the shutter, and move on.
If you’ve traveled with me in the past, this one is not new; you probably saw me doing it, or even ventured out with me after hours to put it into practice.
One of the things I often see on tours is that participants tend to leave the scene they are photographing way too quickly, leaving the possibility to acquire outstanding images behind.
This is not a new technique or something that I’ve discovered, in fact, many great travel photographers do it all the time, but it requires patience.
Understandably if you are on a regular tour, this is not always possible, but this is something you can do if you are traveling solo or when participating in well-organized photography tours.
Here are some examples of situations where you can put this into practice.
1| Frame and wait
Finding an interesting place, corner, and waiting for the right subject to show up on my frame is one of my favorite things to do when traveling. It is also straightforward and can be done at any time of the day.
In certain scenes, adding the human element helps to convey a sense of place better or complete a story. Now, for an image to be strong, you also want to make sure that you have the right subject in the right place.
The image below was made in Chefchaouen, one of my favorite places in Morocco. Chefchaouen is also known as the blue city, well because “almost” all the town is painted in this color. But this fantastic Moroccan city is not the only “blue city” in the world, have you heard of Jodhpur in India? Yes, it’s also blue.
One night during one of the past photo tours I’ve led in Morocco, we went for a walk with some of the participants that still had energy looking for photos. Not far from the riad we were staying, we found this fantastic old building on a busy corner. All kinds of people walked thru there. But let’s keep in mind that not all the people or where they stand are the right subject for a specific image. In this case, we needed someone that could be easily identified as “Moroccan” to complete the picture. You see? That photo without people could be Jodhpur; now, you add a person walking wearing a djellaba, and all of a sudden, yes, this is Morocco.
Camera: Fuji GFX50s | Lens: Fuji GF 32-64 | ISO: 3200 | Aperture: F4.0 | Exposure: 1/30
So, once we got there, at this strategic location, I placed the tripod, framed the image, and didn’t move; while waiting patiently for the correct moment to occur. We spend around 15 to 20 minutes on that location, photographing capturing images of passerbys.
See my filmstrip from Lightroom bellow. Two keepers were captured that night. Look carefully and you’ll notice that the photograph I am posting here, was captured within the first frames. Yes, I was happy when I had it, but we stayed longer because you never know, something better may occur.
This is my Adobe Lightroom filmstrip from that scene.
You can obtain great images at situations that repeat themselves. What do I mean?
Well, the picture below was made at the fish market of Sittwe in Myanmar. did not stop and stand there by chance; when I arrived at the hectic dock where the fishermen were coming, I noticed a repetitive pattern. One after the other, they would quickly bring their catches onto the same platform, unload the boat, and make room for the next one. When you are in a situation like this, you know what’s coming, all you need to do is observe the pattern, then put yourself in the right position to capture the action.
Camera: Fuji GFX50s | Lens: Fuji GF 32-64 | ISO: 6400 | Aperture: F4.5 | Exposure: 1/80
Needless to say, you need to stay there long enough to get the right composition, because all the elements may not be present or positioned correctly to yield an appealing image. So again, stick to your subject and be patient if you think the image is worth it.
3| A place to yourself
Traveling half around the globe for your perfect photo vacation to find an iconic location crowded is frustrating. I know, it happens to me also; you’ve dreamed of getting there and have an opportunity to capture beautiful photos. However, you are now surrounded by pesky selfie sticks and people walking everywhere.
Of course, you need to be patient here too and wait for the place to clear. Eventually, it will happen, but my other advice is: “get there early.” Making a sacrifice and beating the crowds will unquestionably put you in a better position.
See the image below, that’s one of the most popular gates in Macchu. Picchu, and yet I managed to capture it with nobody in sight. No, they didn’t open one of the seven wonders of the world just for me, and I was not alone. But I got there very early, and I waited until my frame cleared up.
Camera: Fuji X-T1 | Lens: Fuji XF 10-24 | ISO: 200 | Aperture: F5.6 | Exposure: 1/500
Finally, I want to say that when we are in such locations for the first time, it is natural to be in awe, and we want to capture it all. I get it, but it is also important to pick our battles, after all, you’re not going to share hundreds of photos from the same place, or if you do, most likely, those are going to be just snapshots. Instead, go slow, observe, and focus on getting more thoughtful photographs to wow your viewers.
There you go, now it is your turn to put it to work for your photos next time you are out here with your camera. You can apply this to any situation, even if you are photographing in your city. Practice patience, and you’ll be rewarded.