Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Travel Photo Tip - Sharing the Experience versus the Cliche

Travel photos are a weird thing. Everyone asks to see them but few really want to see all 824 them (ah, the joy of digital photography.) You ever get the sense that your family is counting the minutes they'll never get back and your friends are secretly plotting your death after they see that fountain that looks just like that other fountain for the 10th time?

A way to avoid post-trip assasination attempts is to come back with something new to share and and something authentic to talk about. The fact is, when you're in Vegas, you're getting a pic of that welcome sign. Disneyland? Mickey's gonna be in there somewhere. And this is all well and good as they will represent to YOU the memories you cherish. Unfortunately, they don't do much to communicate your experience, which is usually the story you want to tell.

So, ask yourself...what is it that you love about being in a new place and what do you want to be able to share about your trip? Chances are, it's not the world famous landmarks that flip your skirt up and it's probably not what gets you excited for sharing. For me, it's all about immersion in a new culture and being around new people ( and new food, of course!)

See that pic above? How cool would it have been to get a photo of all the tourists with their hands up in the air? I love seeing my handy husband saving that poor leaning tower but what does it say about what it was like to be there? Not much. I found myself showing this picture and explaining what it was really like to be there more often than I desired. Ahh, to be able to communicate the experience!
Likewise, we all know what the Mona Lisa looks like ( and, I'm sure everyone's seen a better pic than mine.) So, why not try going for a bit of human interest? Why not make the crowd surrounding the Mona Lisa your subject? You could even develop a portfolio on tourists in action! You don't have to go to The Louvre to find tourists...they're everywhere complete with fanny packs and baseball caps.

People are the missing denominator in most travel photos but they're really what makes a trip memorable. This is actually a tip I need to take my own advice on more often... I would do this photo above much differently today, but you get the idea... Now, that's what the experience was really like (and we promptly left in search of a more authentic French experience a la crepe stand man.)

It's not always easy getting great photos of people, especially when they're strangers. Good thing the Tulsa Digital Photography Group had another meetup yesterday all on approaching strangers for photos. We'll cased the Blue Dome Arts Festival in Tulsa! More to come on that!

As you can tell from the pics above, photography skill itself is a journey, but so is understanding what you truly want to capture in your travel photos. Fortunately, there's nothing like a missed photo op to make me want to hop back on a plane! In the meantime, I can get inspiration ( and you can, too) from this travel photographer I happened upon- note how the people make the shot.

1 comment:

Marty Coleman said...

Great lessons. I am so impressed with your thinking and writing!