Guest Blog Post by Ralph Velasco, travel photographer
We all love to travel, and nothing goes hand in glove with globetrotting like photography. Over time I’ll be providing some of my top tips for creating more and better memories of your travels, whether venturing around the world or around the corner.
It’s Not About the Camera
Whether it’s a smart phone, point-and-shoot or more expensive DSLR (digital single lens reflex) camera, the vast majority of people carry some type of camera with them when they travel. Don’t get caught up in megapixels, because for the most part, we’re sharing our images online, and just about any camera can provide a great tool for “getting the shot” and posting it on Facebook or sharing it via Twitter.
Consider the Rule of Thirds
The Rule of Thirds has you put a tic-tac-toe grid across the scene (some cameras even have this feature built in), so you’ve got two vertical horizons and two horizontal horizons. The idea is to place your subject on one of the four points where two of the lines cross, or along one of the horizon lines, like in this sample image. This will force you to place your subject off center. Now, like any rule, this one is made to be broken, but you have to know the rules before you can break them.
Manipulate the Scene
Attempt to shoot your subject from a variety of angles. Try it from above, from below, from behind, and from other non-traditional angles that will surely set your photography apart. Move around the scene until it does what you want it to do. I moved around this scene on the Charles Bridge until it looked like this statue was pointing towards St. Vitus church up at Prague Castle. This is also a great way to avoid having a telephone pole protruding from your travel mate’s head. Simply position yourself until your subject blocks out the pole.
Avoid the Crowds
Get up early and stay out late. Patrick Symmes, whom I quote in my book, says, “If you don’t like getting up early, then be a writer.” Not only will this allow you to be out in the best light of the day, a.k.a. the Golden Hour, but it will help you to avoid the tourist crowds. This way your subjects, if any, will likely be the locals on their way to work and the kids on their way to school. Those are the people I want in my shots.
The more you can blend into the scene, the better. This way you can get the candid shots, not the more expected ones of people looking at the camera. Arrive at a location early. At first people will notice you and have a good idea of what your intent is, but after a few minutes they’ll forget about you and go right back to what they were doing, and then you can shoot away. Also, keep your camera hidden until you’re ready to take the shot, this will typically have the same results.
Keep an eye out for more practical hints and tips to make better your trips.
About the Author
Ralph Velasco is an award-winning travel photography instructor and international tour guide who has photographed in more than forty countries on six continents. He’s just released his first app for iPhone and iPod touch called My Shot Lists for Travel and is the author of: “Ralph Velasco On Travel Photography: 101 Tips for Developing Your Photographic Eye & More.” Ralph has led cultural photo tours to Cuba, Egypt, Eastern Europe, and throughout the United States. For the past two years he was awarded “Open Photographer of the Year” by the Professional Photographers of Orange County and he belongs to the exclusive Circumnavigators Club, a group of travelers whose charter requires that its members have traveled around the world, in a single journey, having crossed every one of earth’s meridians. You can read his blog at RalphVelasco.com/blog.