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- National Geographic Ultimate Field Guide to Travel Photography
- Travels to the Edge: A Photo Odyssey
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- Top Travel Photo Tips: From Ten Pro Photographers
- Fearless Photographer: Travel
As a photography instructor, author and international photo tour guide, my main goal is to help travelers of all photography skill levels to bring back more interesting and better photos of their travels, whether venturing around the world or around the corner.
In a class I teach called Capturing the Essence of a Place, I discuss the importance of developing and working from a shot list, a fundamental principle of photography. A shot list provides a road map for organizing and tracking a well-rounded portfolio of images that truly creates a cultural portrait of any place or subject. Photographers often have an interest in certain genres of photography, perhaps it's People, Food or Landscapes. Although it's great to specialize and get really proficient at certain types of photography, as a travel photographer I need to be proficient in a number of genres including Street Scenes, Night Scenes, Interiors and a variety of others.
While out in the field shooting on one of my tours to Eastern Europe, I decided that instead of using pen and paper, the Notes app on my iPhone or rote memory, I would create an iPhone app that can easily help me to remember and manage the over 50 categories of a shot list that I've come up with, and so I created My Shot Lists for Travel.
Since I'm a Mac and iPhone user, the Apple iOS platform was ideal for creating such a tool, so I worked with a developer to turn my idea and content into a working app that helps users not only remember the variety of shots they should be capturing, but also tests and pushes their creativity with a number of additional built in features including Challenge Me and My Data (the app also works on the iPod touch and iPad, but it's not optimized for that device). If you don't have an iOS device or you just don't want to spend the money on the app, you can certainly still benefit from this advice and simply use your own methods for maintaining your shot list, just like other photographers have for decades.
So beyond the aforementioned categories, what others are essential to include in your shot list and how can you be sure to successfully capture a variety of images that tells the complete story of a destination? Here is a sampling of five categories that you may or may not have thought of, but that will surely help to move your travel photography to another level and set your images apart from the pack. I can almost guarantee that if you'll make an effort to capture 5 to 10 solid images in a majority of the categories on my shot list, you're sure to return with a diverse collection of images that will make the basis for compelling slideshows, books or websites, however it is that you're presenting your photography.
Vibrant colors can provide impact to an image, and may even have their own exclusive association to a place, so be on the lookout for those opportunities.
Be cognizant of marked visual differences between modern and ancient, wealthy and poor, and other examples that represent opposing ends of the cultural spectrum.
CULTURE AND CUSTOMS
Be on the lookout for distinctive habits or behaviors, and the instruments used in their practice.
Look deeply into the scene to capture the parts that make up the whole. Detail shots are often the difference between a good set of images and a great one.
Give your viewers a real sense of the place you're photographing by providing a wide, overall perspective.
So there you have it. Five categories that you may or may not have been aware of but that will certainly help differentiate your photography from all the rest. Once you've come up with those 5 to 10 solid images in a category, check them off your list and move on to the next.
Look for another installment here on PhotographyTalk featuring 5 more categories in the near future, but in the meantime, Think outside the camera!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ralph Velasco is a 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 which is available on the App Store. Additionally, he's the author of: "Ralph Velasco On Travel Photography: 101 Tips for Developing Your Photographic Eye and More." Ralph has led cultural photo tours to Egypt, Eastern Europe, and throughout the United States and has participated in humanitarian programs to Cuba. For the past two years he was awarded "Open Photographer of the Year" by the Professional Photographers of Orange County, California, and he belongs to the Circumnavigators Club, an exclusive 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. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter (@ralphvelasco) or Facebook.
All text/photos property of Ralph Velasco