Let's go with five new tips that I always try to apply to my travel photographs, and that I hope will serve to improve yours. As in the last week's list, they are practical ideas that are intended to help you understand the best ways to approach and to deal with the scene you want to portray. Again, I leave the technical classes for the numerous high quality books you can find today in the market, and that will help you greatly to improve your handling of the cameras.
1. MAXIMISE THE RANGE OF POSSIBILITIES. It is essential for an artist to be able to give to his work a specific style that sets him apart from others, leaving a clear imprint in whatever they create, in order to define both his personality and his understanding and processing of what's around him. But this matter has its dangers, and in the case of a photographer, it is the possibility to stay stuck in the same kind of images. Try by all means to look for different things during your travels. If you like portraits, do some close-up shots, yes, but also others with a wide angle lens that will help them to gain depth and power and also to show the environment in which that person is at. Take pictures of the landscapes, even if this kind of images are not you favourite ones, or vice versa. Walk the villages, go into the cafes or sit down in a corner and watch people go by. Take close-ups, scenes of a city, a village with mountains in the background....the more information and variety of approaches your work has, the more clearly it will show the essence of the place you've visited and the richer it will be.
Maximize de range of posibilitties in order for your work to be full and varied.
2. FIND NEW PERSPECTIVES. If the weeks prior to your trip you spend a few hours studying pictures from your next destination, often you will find that thousands of images taken by different people of the same tourist enclave are almost identical. Try this not to happen with yours; if you look with the eyes and the heart wide open, it will always appear a place where almost no one has thought to take that picture from. In my case, I wanted at all costs to get a good picture of the Potala Palace in Tibet, and after several attempts, I managed to do it from the back side, leaving the Palace in the background and giving prominence to a woman who was on a tour of pilgrimage around it late in the afternoon.
Try to find an ungle from which no one has thought about taking that picture before.
3. GET UP EARLY!!! For me, when I'm in a new destination, nothing compares to the feeling of well-being that gives me the fact of walking around with my cameras early in the morning. The air is clean, no noise, no tourists ..... just that magical light produced by the sun timidly appearing on the horizon. And of course, the locals going about their daily chores. The chances of getting good images are endless ..... soft close-ups, fantastic backlighting moments, scenes full of spontaneity. Sometimes it's hard getting up so early, but I can assure you that the reward is huge.
Sometimes it's hard to get up early during the trip, but the reward is huge.
4. BEWARE OF THE BACKGROUNDS. During these years that I've been traveling with my cameras, one of the most important things I have learned is to take good notice about what's behind the person or scene that I want to photograph; I had to send thousands of images to the trash because of an inadequate background. No matter how sensational you may find the dress or appearance of someone in particular, or that a moment of everyday's life takes powerfully the attention of your target, if what is behind it will distract the viewer; a dirty floor, walls with intricate architectural lines, a person out of context, an electric pole....many factors can ruin a good picture. Look closely at what's behind, and make sure that it is something that helps promote harmonious composition to the picture and contributes to ad information to the scene.
Make sure that the background of the scene will add values to the composition of the image.
5. BEND YOUR KNEES. Another important key in order to get a shocking photograph is taking it from the level of where the action happens, or even below it. I mean, if you go down the street and you see, for example, a woman sitting on the floor of a market selling fruit, do not shoot standing up on your feet; crouch, get down to her level. If you also manage to get very close to her and take the picture with a wide angle lens, the result will be spectacular. Look at the photograph I got to do on my last trip to a Tibetan woman praying in front of the Jokhang Monastery: I placed myself less than a meter behind her, and fired my camera almost touching the ground with it....without looking by the display!!! I had to make several attempts, of course, until I found the angle that I was expecting; but you can not imagine what a great time I had during this process!!!
Try to get the picture from the same level as the scene you want to portrait.
So my final advice to you is to be open minded to other options, and to experiment, to take risks. Shoot as many times as possible, try different angles .... and shoot again. One of the great advantages of digital photography is that you can delete anything you do not like and you can start all over again. And as I always say....ENJOY THE MOMENTS LIVED ALONG THE WAY!!!