I have made many, many trips during this last few years, and over the time I have come to a better understanding of what is necessary to achieve, on one hand, the ability of capturing with my cameras the true essence of the places I visit, and in the other, the capacity to convey through my images all the emotion that lives in the human soul.
I hope this little list will help you, so that you too will be able to make the most of your travels with your camera.
1. ANALYSE OTHER WORKS. Some weeks before traveling, spend a few hours to see pictures of your next destination .... the more the better. You have countless Internet portals at your fingertips, as 500px, Flickr, or Getty Images; and also great web sites from the most prestigious photographers such as Steve McCurry, Olivier Föllmi or a woman called Tania Abitbol....which apparently makes some photos of scandal :) Look closely at their work, try and draw your own conclusions and get ideas and concepts that will help you improve yours.
2. BE RESPECTFUL. In travel photography there is a fundamental golden rule: respect, both for the country itself and its cultural background, and for the people who cross along your path. I do not share the idea of some photographers that anything goes to get a good picture. If there is an everyday scene or someone in particular that appeal to you and are in a position where they are aware of your presence with the camera, before shooting you should ask permission and try to establish some kind of contact....smile language is universal; if they don't want you to take a picture of them, do not do so!!!....but I can assure you there will be many times when they will be more than happy to be photographed, and they will even want to see the result and have a little chat with you. And I think, frankly, that these brief moments are the ones that will enrich your living experience the most.
Be respectful with the people that cross along your way.
3. CREATE AN EMOTIONAL BOND. If you want to take a picture of someone who is aware of this and has accepted, make sure that this fact will not detract from spontaneity or power to the image. Talk for a few minutes with that person, make the situation as comfortable and entertaining as possible for both of you; or if you are away from that person, greet with your hand, smile.... And above all, do not hurry....observe, wait, and watch out for that brief moment in which, either he or she is not looking at you, or does it in a natural way; the result will be much more powerful than the one you would get by having that person posing for several seconds. That fine emotional bond that you've managed to create will be reflected in the image, I can assure you this.
Create an emotional bond with the people you want to portrait.
4. STAY IN THE BACKGROUND. The best way to produce images full of life and spontaneity is trying to stay in a background in which no one is aware of your presence. Whether you use a zoom lens that will allow you to be at a considerable distance of whatever you want to portray, or a wide angle lens that will force you to get closer to the action, the important matter is to be able to be one more, to mingle with the environment, not to attract attention, to make people around you get the clear feeling that you enjoy being there and that you respect that vital moment altogether.
If you manage to stay in the background, your pictures will look more spontaneous.
5. USE AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE A WIDE ANGLE LENS. If you are looking for powerful images, I recommend you to use a wide angle lens. It is true that sometimes, especially if you want to do a portrait of someone, it will force you to get closer to the scene..... but that's the point! For one, if you shoot with a value of f/16 or higher, you will get a picture with a spectacular depth of field, a picture with several layers and a powerful feeling of almost a three-dimensional image; and secondly, you will be able to show more of the environment surrounding that particular scene, thus providing information that will help to understand better the circumstances of time and place.
Using a wide angle lens your portraits will be much more powerful.
And most important of all ..... DO NOT FORGET TO ENJOY !!! Whether or not you get great images from your trip, the experience you have just lived will remain forever in your heart.
And next week, five more advices!!! I hope these ones have been useful for you.