Photography is the ability to capture light in a camera. Well, that’s what we all say isn’t it ? No wonder light is the most important factor when it comes to making stunning images. But is it the only thing which is challenging for us or are there any other factors which photographer needs to have ingrained before even hitting the location – specially in travel photography? Let’s talk about that today!
Hello friends, I am Prathamesh Dixit – travel photographer, blogger, photography educator & photo tour guide from beautiful country of India. For over five years of my photographic journey, I have noticed that travel photography seeks for multiple skills in the photographer before blessing him/her with some decent images. I have been blessed to travel to some amazing locations over the years including places like – Venice, Paris, Scotland, London along with multiple amazing destinations in India, which includes mighty Himalaya as well.
As a travel photographer, one thing that you face more often is that you probably will be getting just one chance to visit the destination. No matter how hard you prepare for all the technical aspects of photography, there are always uncertain challenges that you are bound to face. And believe me, if you are looking to be a decent travel photographer, you have to prepare for the every second of your travel expedition. So let’s just talk about what my experience has taught me to consider as major skills required to be a good travel photographer.
Travel photography is one such genre which actually seeks your interest in landscapes, people, architecture, culture and what not. Technically, you have to be good with all of these for building a great travel story. And thus you need to be very broad with your planning and vision while you on travel photography tours or assignments. I am sure you don’t want to miss any place which could have added more depth to your story. So planning plays the most crucial role in travel photography.
For me, travel photography is not hitting an unknown location the next day, but it is a process of exploring, researching, & planning for the the unknown locations thoroughly before even booking my flights. Personally I plan for each day of my visit with shot lists and places to visit throughout the day on a broader level. I try to understand the culture and vibe of the place by reading lots and lots of blog posts and by observing photographs and videos of other fellow travelers. Thanks to the internet for making the work easy!
At times I talk with photographers who have visited the same place or talk with local people in advance to know how the place is doing currently. Believe me, every little thought that you put into planning makes your travel job easier. I have written a blog on how to plan your next photographic destination effectively. These are some simple tips and tricks yet most powerful to make best out of your travel experience as a photographer. Special thanks to the show “The Grid,” Scott Kelby, and many amazing fellow photographers for giving me insightful thoughts during early phases of my photography.
Well, who doesn’t know this term in photography? Failure of camera equipments, lights, memory cards, batteries are some famous bloopers amongst photographers. Every one of us has a story like this, don’t we? So, consider that you will need to stay ready for these circumstances in travel photography as well.
But, more than technical challenges, I want you to be very open for any unplanned moments. No matter how meticulously you plan your journey, travel plans are bound to make some uncertain changes at last moment. Be it due to weather conditions, opening/closing hours of places, transportation issues or anything for that matter which is beyond your control. My advice: Do not panic – Just be flexible & be adaptable to situations!
Like most travelers, I too get overwhelmed with destinations and start photographing everything that I consider interesting. But this is not going to produce a perfect travel story. Plus, when pushed into uncertain situations, you will fall in dead mind of what to shoot. Thus, I want you to prepare for the unexpected when on travel assignments. I don’t want you to think like a photographer every time, who worries about the wrong light, wrong place, wrong camera equipment, and everything else which you think is wrong for making a good image.
You have to admit that a major part of travel photography is to photograph what you are experiencing at the destination, isn’t it? All you can do in these moments is to enjoy the journey and be observant of your surroundings. Broaden your visual spectrum. Slow down your photography. Take your own time. Trust your ability and your own instincts. No matter what the result is going to be, there is no harm in trying at least, right?
Now some would still stick with technical representation of final image, which is absolutely fine. But hey, you might be traveling a place just for fun or for where an assignment might be. Do you really want to avoid taking a photograph just because things are not the way you are expecting them to be? Be the traveler that you always wanted to be.
Technical aspects of photography are always important. But when things fall apart, the great thing about travel photography is that you have huge range of subjects to cover the similar scene or story. So there is always a chance to move ahead no matter where you fall in. Giving up on a one time opportunity is the only thing a great travel photographer doesn’t like!
I have heard the term somewhere – Luck favours only those who are prepared to be the lucky one but doesn’t depend upon it. Luck favours those who put years of efforts in building their craft and vision. Luck favours those who are observant with surroundings and make themselves a part of that scene. Slowing down my photography & being instinctive about the moments helped me to make some lucky shots. I do not consider them as flukes but I consider those moments as opportunity well caught in time. Be the lucky one!
The one thing which is common in all great artists around the globe is patience & perseverance. No matter how great of a photographer you are, every new scene is a new challenge. You have to build up yourself around the scene to make a portfolio worthy image. There are going to be situations where you would not be able to make anything from the scene. But as a great photographer says – just move away and come back but don’t leave it until you get what you deserve. My experience is no exception. In fact, patience is the one thing which gave me some portfolio worthy images throughout these years.
Alright, so you have planned your travel perfectly, you have set your mindset for unexpected situations, you have built up yourself for patience and at times expected some luck. But to cover a good travel journey, you have to be a good story teller. Doesn’t necessarily have to be in words, but you should be able to build up a visual journey of your travel experience through your photographs.
Make sure you travel with the mindset of the story that you want to create. Are you going to cover food story from the place, are you creating travel guide story, are you going to cover history of the place, are you going to cover cultural vibe, are you going to shoot the story from local’s perspective or are you going to shoot the story from traveler’s perspective?
It may be any of these, but ensure you stick to it. This is very important. Coming back with hundreds of images is not a success in travel photography. But selling a unique story to magazine or travel agency is what makes your efforts count! You can find some examples of my travel stories on my website.
While I am pretty new in the industry, this is what I have learnt over the period of time. Scott Kelby and the KelbyOne platform surely have been key players for me and my journey as a photographer. I am too overwhelmed to write a guest blog for them today. Seems like my life is getting a meaning just with ‘little bit of planning, staying prepared for the unexpected, pushing a bit of patience and to find myself the lucky one!’ Are you doing same with your life as a photographer?
Prathamesh Dixit is an IT professional turned into a full time travel photographer | photography educator | photo tour mentor | blogger | YouTuber from beautiful country of India. Being a creative soul from the beginning, bits and pieces of arts always fascinated him & thus with the desire of creating something of his own, his photographic journey started back in 2013.
Today his camera is always in search for serene landscapes, magical cityscapes, story-driven culture & characters around the world. In recent years, his work has been acknowledged in multiple international platforms such as International Photography Awards IPA, Black and White Spider Awards, and International Color Awards along with photographic exhibitions in cities of India such as Bangalore, Mumbai, Pune & Nashik.
He is also a gold medalist in national salon under federation of Indian photography. His travel work has been published in India’s number 1 photography magazine named Smart Photography along with multiple new agencies, websites, travel boards and through stock agencies like Getty Images and shutter stock. His fine art work is available through galleries like artsper, saatchi art gallery and through his website as well. While, he continues cherish all these achievements, he always look towards new challenges and opportunities to explore in this visual storytelling world.
You can check out more of Prathamesh’s work at PrathameshDixit.com, and keep up with him on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Pinterest, or send him a message at email@example.com.