We all love to travel with our cameras to unknown locations and document it. As photographers, I am a firm believer that when we visit a new place, we return home with a deeper understanding of the culture.
It only makes sense; we are more alert than the general traveler because while searching for images to capture, we just observe better.
I have yet to see “tourists,” waiting on a corner, looking up, down, in every direction. Nowadays, they are more worried about that instant selfie than to find that unique architectural detail or to engage in a conversation with a local. We, as travel photographers, definitely see better, look for details, engage with locals to photograph them, and have a richer experience. That’s is just one of the charms of travel photography.
However, when you visit a place for the first time, you get in awe; the excitement of being there for the first time makes you behave like that tourist. That’s something not easy to avoid, and it happens to everybody, including myself. When I first traveled to India, the sensory overload was such that I was constantly distracted by how hectic everything was, the smells, the chaotic traffic, the food, the people, everything was so unusual that it was hard to concentrate. Can you relate being in a similar situation?
When you are more familiar with an area, things work differently, you are more prepared, and you can focus more on details. Familiarity is vital, you know better what to expect, and your results are more solid simply because your level of preparation is sharper.
Did you ever wanted to make a photograph on a place on different weather circumstances, or wished to have a different lens? Perhaps stand on a different corner? Well, when you return to a location, you can make that right.
Did you know that those National Geographic covers can take months to produce? That’s right; this is also true for seasoned pros. Often, assignments for prominent publications demand many trips and even months to create.
Of course, I understand we don't always have the luxury or resources to do that, but if there is a place that you ever fell in love with, I strongly encourage it to give it a go, at least one more time.
The other option is to to travel or join a photography tour with an expert on the region. Someone that knows it thoroughly can help position you in the right place at the right time. I am not trying to sell you anything; the main idea is to give you options. For us travel photographers, the satisfaction it produces to obtain a portfolio image that you are proud to show is second to none. Re-visiting a location will undoubtedly ample your chances to do so.
Here is a photo of the Blue Gate in Fez, Morocco. I was able to photograph this place on my third trip to Morocco. This is one of the main entrances to the Medina. I walked through multiple times during the day and it was always crowded, and I had this image in mind since the first time I was there. It was only in my third visit when the conditions were right for me to make this photo.
Camera: Fuji GFX50s | Lens: Fuji GF 23mm | ISO: 100 | Aperture: F16.0 | Exposure: 13 Secs
This other photograph is from Arequipa, in Peru. I was in Arequipa five times. I even spent a week there on assignment for Photographers Without Borders photographing for a local NGO. But I never got the chance to photograph the Cathedral from this vantage point until last year, either because I didn’t have time or because I didn’t have access to the location.
Camera: Fuji GFX50s | Lens: Fuji GF 32-64mm | ISO: 100 | Aperture: F4.0 | Exposure: 2 Secs
Camera: Fuji GFX50s | Lens: Fuji GF 23mm | ISO: 1600 | Aperture: F4.0 | Exposure: 0.5 secs
Did you ever return to a place more than once? What’s your experience?
Let me know in the comments below, I am always eager to hear nice stories from other travel photographers and enthusiasts.
Lastly, don’t forget to check out our upcoming photo tours, perhaps there is a place of interest and you could join us.