Exploring Asia - Biggest Mistakes of
Travel Photography (and how to avoid them) plus a tip to inspire you to capture better images
I'll admit I'm not a professional travel photographer (working towards it) but I certainly have learned how to frame, capture and create some beautiful imagery along our almost 100 days traveling the world. Some of my most popular blog posts have been aimed at offering travel photography pointers so here's another new post on the biggest mistakes of travel photography and how to avoid them. I will say that I make some of these mistakes all the time still but I am always looking to improve my craft and better my photography one moment after another - and you should too... always strive for something sharper, cleaner, better framed and more colorful than your images before.
Mistake #1 Feeling rushed by the crowds
Try your best to capture the images you want on your time schedule and by not letting other tourists, photographers or local people rush you out of a really great capture. Anticipate crowds when you're heading out to a busy tourist attraction but do not let the crowds scare you out of creating something beautiful - perhaps find a spot at the busy attraction that isn't so busy where you can take some extra time to create a different angle or perspective on a popular location. For instance pay attention to details in tiles, carvings, writings, zoom in close instead of capturing the wide angle with all the tourists in the image. Be patient - wait 5-10 extra minutes for a busy photography spot to clear out then set up your gear and take your time capturing what you set out to capture. If you're able to block out all the extraneous elements going on around a busy touristy place then you'll be able to come away with some really fantastic images so remember - don't let the crowds get to you... instead be patient. Wait your turn, I've had to wait over ten minutes so I can set my tripod up to capture the image I wanted - was it worth it? Totally worth it.
Mistake #2 Poor Planning
I fall into this mistake a lot - poor planning is easy to trip up your perfectly planned out photography day for instance when you show up to the Taj Mahal with a tripod in your hand - certain places in Asia, Europe and other regions DO NOT ALLOW tripods inside. I should have done more research on the Taj Mahal (Agra, India) knowing that tripods would not be allowed inside - it's just too busy, too filled with tourists for people to be setting up tripods making time lapses, long exposures, so I had to roll with it. I ran my tripod back to our rickshaw driver and stashed it inside the tuk-tuk for the time being - although I was rather bummed out, I quickly understood why they don't want people bringing tripods into this attraction. You will learn that the more you plan out your photography shoots in the end the better your images and captures will turn out... much of photography is capturing the moment, the lighting but the more you plan the better off you will be. If you do fall into mistake #2 be prepared to roll with it - don't feel as though just because you don't have your tripod or everything you visioned to bring inside your day is ruined... be prepared to roll with any circumstances and any scenarios you may encounter (weather, camera restrictions, crowds, closures and no photography rules may apply in certain places).
Misktake #3 Not spending enough time on location
Images like this one above of Big Ben took me at least an hour to find this vantage point - across the river from the busy street in front of Big Ben. I took a number of images prior to this one that didn't have the sky colors I wanted nor did they turn out very well (they looked dull, and uninteresting) my girlfriend and I walked around for maybe 3 hours before I was able to really nail some quality, longer exposure images of the Big Ben in London, U.K. - this is about the standard amount of time you should allow for capturing some really fine pieces of work. Set aside 2-3 hours if the attraction is going to busy and also take a look at sunrise and sunset times (something I am constantly doing) as the golden hours no matter where you are will typically create a more explosive final image. For this example above - it was well after the golden hour but we had to wait (and freeze our asses off) for the pretty lights to come on and also had to discover some great angles to capture the right image. So when your planning your travel shoots set aside a nice chunk of the day so your not feeling rushed, or unable to capture the light you had in mind.
Mistake #4 Not doing enough research, research and more research
Travel photography is always changing as well as your location, and the people your trying to capture. By this I mean that not everyone in the world wants their photo taken, some people might as you for money after you take their photograph (always keep some small change for the reason - and give them a small donation) and some things aren't okay to snap pictures of either. A few ways to avoid severely pissing someone off - ask if its alright to take their photo, take street photos very discretely as to not anger anyone and do your due diligence in researching local customs, cultures and rules about photography in other countries (some religious statues or holy places may seem like a great place for a capture but it might be totally wrong or improper to snap a photo in certain places). Doing research really pays off in the end - mistakes #2 and #4 go hand in hand - the more prepared you are the better the results will be and less surprises when you head out for a day of adventure filled travel photography.