TRavel photography

The three approaches

There are many genres of photography, which I believe is what makes photography such a unique hobby or profession. The camera simply becomes a tool that facilitates a unique and personal interaction into anyone of the wide spectrums of our cultures. Many photographers love the thrill and adventure of nature photography. Others enjoy the personal interaction of a portrait. Some relish in the minutia and intimate detail of the micro world.   Still others enjoy the speed and pace of the sport’s world. Again, still others may enjoy the world of travel or the adventures of wildlife. The commitment a photographer makes is both personal and life-changing.   

There are many, many more areas of photographic interests depending on how thorough one wants to quantify and classify the world where we live. However, one of the most fun genres and fastest growing today is that of travel photography. When on visits foreign lands, the focus can be on three quite distinct things – Building & Surroundings, People at Work, and Environmental Portraits.

Many photographers today enjoy the peace and challenges of simply walking through distant lands and capturing the beauty of the new-found scenery.  The mountains, lakes and buildings serve as the subject for a wide array of beautiful images. The major change the photographer may face deals with the weather.  However, even on story days, beautiful images can be captured. It is important to realize that as important and beautiful as these photos are, they serve only as the beginning to true Travel Photography.  The following is a short collection of traditional travel photography.

The Street Photographer

The next layer in this genre Employs the strategies of the Street Photographer. The quiet yet interactive walks through unknown streets offer opportunities to capture the true culture of a distant country.  The adventure of strolling through unknown neighborhoods, while trying to capture unique snapshots of daily life, is the goal  The photographer becomes, as the French would say,  the flâneur. With an inconspicuous camera in hand, the photographer, through careful observation, attempts to transform the mundane into art.

Photographer, Elliott Erwitt, perhaps says it best. “To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place. I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.”

As with street photography in general, there are many ways to approach the challenges of photography in distant lands.  The most popular is for the photographer to strive to be invisible. The camera is unseen in the pursuit of the image. In this quiet search, the photographers seek to silently blend into this new world they wish to document. Below is a small sample of my invisible travel photography.

Environmental Portraits

Getting more personal with the subjects, interacting with them, and securing their trust while striving to capture a view of their soul is the goal in Environmental Portraits (EP). Here the photographer is not unseen, hidden or inconspicuous. With EM’s, the photographer seeks to actively engage a perfect stranger, and with a smile and a sincere story, will set the stage for a personal portrait in a new environment.

For a male photographer, the ultimate aim is not to appear “creepy.” A honest smile is important, but a simple and convincing story is critical.  It is your story that gives you credibility.  With normal street photography, one needs a relatively small camera to remain invisible. With EP, one requires anything short of a view camera. Personally, I use a Canon 5D with a 70—210mm f/2.8 lens.  It is big and impressive, and that shouts serious and professional.  Then aim is to separate yourself from the many tourists that have previously visited the areal Below are some of my Environmental Portraits.

Photographing Children

Taking photos of children requires special care and consideration. My practice is to first approach the mom or dad, give a genuine smile, and then simply point my camera at their child with a questioning look on my face. Rarely would a parent deny permission.

After this initial “meet and greet,” the issue now is how to take a true portrait. The problem is that in any photo of a person, one never should just say “smile.” This is especially true with a child speaking a different language. The question is how should the photographer get the child to relax and then capture some honest emotion? The answer is simple; All the photographer has to do is not be afraid to embarrass himself. Give the child an exaggerated smile, tilt your head, and then make rather silly faces. After a few seconds, the child begins to react with a variety of looks. “Being Silly” is a universal language of all cultures and all ages. Below is a collection of my EP of children.

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