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3 Tips for Amateur Photographers While Traveling

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I am a self-professed Shutterbug, a long-standing joke in my family that I always had a camera pointed at someone or something. My sister joked that I had my nephew’s entire first year on film and could create a flipbook of it. All right, maybe they aren’t actually joking but using sarcasm to voice my clear love of photos and cameras. Whether you use a point and shoot or a DSLR there are still some basic things a traveling photo bug needs to remember.

Ask First: You know you have done it, seen a person, a child or a tourist who is in just the right light, at the right place. You want to capture that moment, you are trying to portray a culture, depict everyday life for another world so you poise yourself to snap a shot. I love photographing people more than anything else because they are unique. An ocean view in Italy and Brazil are both beautiful but they are both ocean views. Capturing a fisherman waist deep in the Brazilian ocean encapsulates so much more. Problem is, these are people and you are capturing personal and sometimes private moments. There is some disagreement about asking permission, and sometimes it depends on the situation.

So what’s a Snapper to do? First research the country you are visiting and learn about the culture. I found that for the most part, people are willing to let you take photographs and having awareness about social taboos or appropriate ways to approach people is helpful to gain their permission. If it is a crowd or an event where photography is permitted then permission isn’t necessary, but if the person is the main subject then you should ask. If you are photographing a child, take the steps to gain the parent’s consent. Some of the most poignant and striking photographs are ones we can capture of people unaware; in that moment we look at a photo and wonder what their thoughts were or where they were going. It allows us to detach from the person and muse about the details captured.

Take lots, delete soon: I take hundreds and in a couple of cases, thousands of photos when I’m traveling. I hear you groan, don’t think I can’t hear that but let me explain. Not all of those photos end up in my FLCKR file for you to sit and view and endless slideshow. I take multiple shots of the same thing, from different angles, using a different lens, or just to make sure that I secured what I wanted to in the shot. . That’s the beauty of digital photos and memory cards; you can instantly review your shots and decide if they didn’t come out to retake them. At the end of the day, review all of your shots delete those that you know you won’t keep, retain the ones that have potential. Keeps memory open that can be used the next day! It is always better to take too many photographs than to lament the ones that didn’t come out.

Organize and backup: Take an extra charged battery and extra memory card with you as well as the charger. That way you never miss an opportunity because your battery went dead or you ran out of space. Most people have photo editing software built into their home computers. PCs have a variety of basic software and Macs use iPhoto. They are user friendly and allow you to take the pictures from the memory card and move them onto either your internal or external hard drives. Within the editing software you can crop, adjust the contrast, add effects and organize them into folders. How you organize is up to your personal preferences. Make folders by incident, by country, by subject, by date; you have virtually endless options. Backup for your photographs can be done by several methods: keep them on the memory cards and file those in safe place, invest in an online back up system, or an external hard drive.

So there are my 3 general rules for travel and photography. No matter whether you aspire to have showings in a gallery or your living room, make sure you always paint the picture you want with your lens!


About the Author: Janet Atteberry is one of our travel clubs most avid members. She has been to Hawaii & Ireland with us and we hope to see her on many more adventures to come. She is an excellent writer & amateur photographer. Our members are always looking forward to the next great article! Thanks for another good read Janet!

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8 Replies to “3 Tips for Amateur Photographers While Traveling”

October 20, 2011
I like the idea of taking lots and lots of photos and deleting the ones that aren't up to my expectations. Light is constantly changing and thus there is no harm in filling up memory cards quickly ;-)
    October 21, 2011
    Hi Jerimiah, Yes it makes it so easy with digital now and you no longer have to be conservative when shooting. Steve
The second tip is soooo important. If I get behind on reviewing and deleting, I feel so overwhelmed when I try to work on editing/ uploading.
    March 23, 2012
    Yeah I struggle at this too! haha. I am now editing pictures from our trip to Turkey which was in October of 2011!
Natasha @ Wandering Kiwi
March 26, 2012
I agree with your tips, except it can be a problem when you're travelling somewhere you know you won't be able to recharge batteries for weeks eg when trekking. But then sometimes the enforced restriction isn't a bad thing - makes you think about each photo you take.
    March 27, 2012
    I know! I actually shoot away but really try to delete the bad ones right then and there..
March 30, 2012
Great tips. Specially the one about "asking first".
    April 1, 2012
    haha yes...I dont always follow that one myself...
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