You can make your travel photography very special when you take pictures of the people you meet as well as your family and friends. Follow these tips to capture and experience more of the atmosphere and unique qualities of the places you visit by shooting portrait photos of the people who live there. Remember, it’s important to respect other people’s privacy and lifestyles, and to ask for their permission before photographing them.
1. Use the Background to Your Advantage.
Use the background to create interesting moods. A completely white background will strongly highlight the subject as well as a dark background with most of the light reflecting off the subject. Various colored backgrounds could reveal different aspects of his or her personality. The background or environment in which you are shooting could also add context to your travel photos of people.
2. Shoot All Face.
An alternate approach is to include no background; fill the complete frame with the subject’s face. This “in-your-face” method can be very expressive and reveal much about your subject.
3. Look for the Spontaneous Moment.
The best travel photos of people are often those that catch the subject totally unaware. Candid pictures of people focused on the tasks of their daily lives or interacting with other people and the environment is a good technique, especially for people (and children) who are shy or hesitant about having their pictures taken.
4. Add More Interest.
Your travel photos will be more interesting when you add another object or person to the picture. Then, ask your portrait subject to look at or interact with them. Introduce an object that relates to the person’s life or interests. That relationship will help your pictures tell a story and not just record a moment in time.
5. Look for Authenticity and Variety.
When you travel in different parts of your country or the world, you’ll find that some local people will don traditional dress to provide travelers with a bit of a show. That can bring authenticity to your photos, but also reduce the variety. Try to find time to visit the places where the people in that country or region live, work and play. You’ll capture a greater variety of travel photos of people that are also authentic, but in terms of how they live today.
6. Take Time to Tell a Story.
Typically, travel photography is shot quickly as you move from one point of interest to another. If possible, however, arrange to spend some time in one place or with one or more person. You can take multiple pictures of him or her and within the context of their typical day and environment. That will reveal much more about him or her and his or her culture. You may also make a friend.
7. Use More Than One Lens or Focal Length.
Travel photos of people are more interesting and memorable when you shoot their portraits with various lens and focal lengths. For instance, you’ll discover that pictures taken between 50mm and 135mm will give you more opportunities to capture great portrait photos. The distortion of a wide-angle lens can be very creative, while a longer focal length will allow you to take more of those candid pictures because you’re less of a distraction, shooting from a longer distance.
Photo copyright PhotographyTalk member Harold Green