AVOIDING CLICHÉS WITH TRAVEL PHOTOS
Quick, name some clichés in travel photography. Wait, we can do it for you: badly lit photographs of exotic food that do NOT look like a delicacy? Check. Local person scowling at the camera? Check. World-famous landmark that seems more like a Disney ride because it was shot in the middle of the day and is surrounded by ten thousand tourists? Check.
Travel photography clichés are everywhere, and if you’re not thoughtful about how you’re portraying the place you’ve gone to, all that effort lugging your kit and all the money you’ve spent getting there will be for naught.
Fortunately, our love for all things travel and all things photography intersect neatly, so we – and a few of our OLYMPUS ambassadors – have come up with a few tips to help you produce travel photography that’s a cut above the rest.
1. Make an effort
Know when the Taj Mahal looks its worst? In the middle of the day, surrounded by a million visitors from a million coach tours, bleaching out and over-exposing in the harsh midday light. Know when it looks its best? A shade after sunrise, when its marble walls are still cool to the touch and it reflects the soft, warm light of the morning sun. Alternatively: from across the Yamuna river. What we’re saying is that if you wait until your jetlagged body feels like hauling itself out of bed you’ll have missed the best light of the day. Set your alarm, grab a coffee and head out before everyone else can be bothered and your reward will be uniquely lit, tranquil shots.
2. Chat to the locals
You know what people hate when they live somewhere that gets a lot of tourists with cameras? Surreptitious photographers who pretend to be looking elsewhere while they shoot a badly-framed portrait. What makes for good portrait photography: knowing your subject. Stop and chat, shake hands and, if you have one, hand over a business card so your subject can get in touch with you afterwards to see the image you made of them. Prepare your winning-est smile and firmest handshake and your portrait photography will really take flight.
3. It’s all about scale
Even if your photography exploits take you somewhere without many people – think the spectacular rock formations of Utah, or the volcanic landscapes of Indonesia – most landscape photography really benefits from a human. Snapping a shot with a person in it adds interest to a shot as well as giving your audience a sense of scale: essential when face with some the planet’s most spectacular efforts.
4. Know your gear
This one’s important. It’s all very well heading out to the arid plains of Namibia, but if you’ve never used your OLYMPUS 300mm f/4 lens before this is hardly the place to learn. Likewise, if you find yourself under the northern lights for the first time you’ll want to already be certain exactly where the ISO button is on your camera. Practice, practice, practice: get good at using your camera in the environment you’re most familiar with and it will all fall into place once you get somewhere… better.