Three simple tricks anyone can use to take share-worthy travel photos

by Christina Newberry
Christina Newberry is a Vancouver-based freelance writer and editor who covers travel and lifestyle stories for local and regional publications. She recently wrote a summary of my presentation on Travel Photography at the annual BC Association of Travel Writers conference on April 18, 2015. Published in the examiner.com on May 15, 2015, she kindly permitted me to reproduce her article here. Photographs are from David's Interface Images online Gallery.  

David Smith of Interface Images is a Vancouver-based freelance photographer who also teaches the art of digital photography on some of the world’s top cruise lines. Recently, he spoke at the BC Association of Travel Writers annual symposium about how to take better pictures while travelling. The key? Take pictures of people. Sure, landscape and architecture shots are great, but it’s pictures of people that will make your travel photography unique (and share-worthy) and help you build and capture lasting memories. “Explore what your camera means to you as you interact with cultures around the world,” he said. Here are his top three tips for getting great shots of local people as you travel around the world.


1. Ask permission

Taking someone’s photo without asking is at best rude, and at worst can get you in serious trouble. While people in North America may be hesitant to have their picture taken, people in other cultures may be flattered you asked. “Internationally, your camera can unlock doors to local culture,” Smith said. Improve your odds of success by asking to “create” someone’s picture rather than “take” it – it’s a simple shift of language that makes a big difference.

Photography of Local people and culture. Always ask permission to "create" a portrait.

Photography of Local people and culture. Always ask permission to “create” a portrait.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Work the easy connections

Simply put, be nice. Be nice to cab drivers and others in the service industry – Smith has been invited into local families’ homes more than once just by being polite and expressing an interest. When purchasing local goods in a market, be friendly and ask the vendors to pose with their products – they’ll be happy to show off what they sell.

Our Taxi Driver (l) and family with Anna in Goa, India

South Asian Hospitality! Our Taxi Driver (l) and family with Anna in Goa, India

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Create rapport

Bring pens, stickers and other gifts from home (Canadian flag items are a big hit) to thank people for allowing you to photograph them. Be sure to show people the photos you take of them on the camera’s LCD screen. As strange as it may to sound in selfie-obsessed North America, some people may never have seen a photograph of themselves before, and it can bring them great joy.

Anna SmithhHanding our Canada pins in Isla Providencia, Colombia

Anna Smith handing our Canada pins in Isla Providencia, Colombia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bonus tip: When taking pictures of people who know each other (friends or family members), ask them to “touch heads.” It brings their faces together (and gets them smiling) for a much more interesting photo than a line of people standing in a row.

Close-up of faces in Iceland captured in or near the tiny fishing village of Isafjordur in northwest Iceland

“Touch Heads”. Close-up of faces in Iceland captured in the tiny fishing village of Isafjordur in northwest Iceland


About Us. David and Anna Smith are World travel & fine art photographers, Bloggers, photography and fabric arts workshop leaders, key note speakers and cruise ship guest lecturers, Their world image archive: Interface Images and Celebrate the World fine art gallery.  David has just published a brand new series of online travel and general photography courses, visit their blog Travel Photography Tips & Adventures for more.

 

When I dropped my $1300 lens in Palma de Majorca, Spain I heard glass shattering

Cracked Lens?

Cracked Lens?

Dateline: Palma de Majorca, Spain

I heard a heavy clunking as my very very favorite lens  a $1300 Canon EF 70-200mm f/4 L IS USM Lens  rolled down the bus steps in Palma de Majorca and dropped to the pavement with a tinkling sound of shattering glass that penetrated my heart. The lens slowly rolled under the bus as the bus driver started to move forward. He stopped instantly when he heard my scream and saw the pain and anguish on my face.

Did he think he had run over my foot? The bus stopped and with my broken heart (and wallet?) I reached under the bus to retrieve mio bambino, mi bebé, mon bébé. That lens is my second love. This was only day 2 of a 2 month travel adventure journey to 3 continents with  a non stop continuous travel itinerary so just where was I going to get a lens replacement without draining my money belt? I dreaded the worst.

What happened you ask? Well I had forgotten to zip up the back zipper of my trusty reliable ‘always with me’  Lowepro SlingShot 202 AW camera bag after cleaning my lens while seated. The big lens popped out as I stood up and dashed down the bus steps at the Palma Cathedral.  My note to self, a Mantra,  is to ALWAYS zip up my bag promptly after I everything gently slipped from the camera bag on its first use 5 years ago.

Is the memory lapse jet-lag or me getting older?  or forgetful?  or just being too excited about our upcoming travels?

The lens cap had fallen off in the tumble and the bright morning sun glinted and scattered multi-prism shapes from the end of the lens into my eyes like fractured frozen ice cubes floating in a refreshing chilled gin and tonic – but it was only 9 am. The broken glass pattern etched into my memory forever. Anna says I looked like a family member had died or I was about to die.

As I picked up the lens to conduct a post mortem I noticed the UV filter over the lens glass was badly smashed with multiple fracture lines emanating from a huge dent on its side. I sighed with a gasp and my face turned fish belly white as I forcefully tried to remove the stuck on filter from the lens. After several tries the filter unscrewed off and the glass on the newly cleaned lens glass glinted back at me and I smiled right back with  pink color returning to my face.  Nary a scratch, dent or single mark was to be found on the front of the lens. You can see the damaged filter resting against the hopefully pristine lens by in the above image.

Did the $25 filter actually save my $1300 lens and my vanity? Would the internal workings of the lens grind to a halt when I snapped my next photo? It was, after all, a loud series of thuds heard.As we walked about the charming medieval city of Palma with its majestic cathedral, the colorful market and and vibrant central square with buskers everywhere, I tested the lens and coveted it as a long lost friend. The familiar whirring sound of the image stabilization motor and the spot focus system beep appeared to be working but would all the images have the tack sharpness that Canon “L” lens are famous for? Here is a test image….looking promising methinks?

That night I anxiously awaited my image downloads to view on our travelling laptop and good news – both the lens and my pocket book have been saved!  Just finding a new  Hoya HMC UV(C) Filter – UV – 67 mmCamera Lens Round Filters) took 10 days of trekking around different town in France and Italy and finally joy was found by Anna in a tiny camera shop off the town square in Amalfi, Italy. Paying twice the price paid back home was worth the relief of having my camera kit complete.

The moral of this travel photography tale is always have a UV or skylight filter on all of your SLR lenses and all of the time. I always did so to protect my lens from others or things knocking or scratching it by someone else’s folly.  I didn’t expect it would protect the lens from my own foolishness.

If you have any please share  your travel photography and camera  horror stories, please use the comment form below.  Sometime we will tell you about the impact of desert, salt spray and high humidity has on cameras when they are not packed or stored well.

Here are some of our images of the vibrant and historic Olivar Market and a narrow peaceful medieval lane in old Palma de Majorica.

Lane, strolling, 3 people, family, Palma, de Majorica, de Mallorca, medieval, walls, peaceful, street scene, Spain, Baleric islands, quiet, flowers, lamp, brick, walkway, narrow, fine art, palma, mallorca, lane, 001 Local Residents strolling down a narrow medieval lane in Palma de Majorca, in the Baleric islands of Spain

Local Residents strolling down a narrow medieval lane in Palma de Majorca, in the Baleric islands of Spain.  Available as a fine art print, worldwide shipping.

market, stall, stand, deli, olives, meats, sausages, cheese, Mediterrnean, food, Palma, Mallorca, Spain, Spanish, food, display, indoors, tradional, foods, fresh, art photo, travel, palma, mallorca, deli, market, 001 market stand of meats, olives, cheeses and Meditrrarean foods in Palma, Mallorca, Spain

market stand of meats, olives, cheeses and Mediterranean foods in Palma, Mallorca, Spain. Available as a fine art print, worldwide shipping. Click image to order

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

About the Authors. David and Anna Smith are World travel & fine art photographers, Bloggers, photography and fabric arts workshop leaders, key note speakers and cruise ship guest lecturers, Their world image archive: Interface Images and Celebrate the World fine art gallery.  David has just published a brand new series of online travel and general photography courses, visit their blog Travel Photography Tips & Adventures for more

Cracked Lens? Dateline: Palma de Majorca, Spain I heard a heavy clunking as my very very favorite lens  a $1300 Canon EF 70-200mm f/4 L IS USM Lens  rolled down the bus steps in Palma de Majorca and dropped to the pavement with a tinkling sound of shattering glass that penetrated my heart. The lens slowly rolled under the bus as the bus driver started to move forward. He stopped instantly when he heard my scream and saw the pain and anguish on my face. Did he think he had run over my foot? The bus stopped and with my broken heart (and wallet?) I reached under the bus to retrieve mio bambino, mi bebé, mon bébé. That lens is my second love. This was only day 2 of a 2 month travel adventure journey to 3 continents with  a non stop continuous travel itinerary so just where was I going to get a lens replacement without draining my money belt? I dreaded the worst. What happened you ask? Well I had forgotten to zip up the back zipper of my trusty reliable 'always with me'  Lowepro SlingShot 202 AW camera bag after cleaning my lens while seated. The big lens popped out as I stood up and dashed down the bus steps at the Palma Cathedral.  My note to self, a Mantra,  is to ALWAYS zip up my bag promptly after I everything gently slipped from the camera bag on its first use 5 years ago. Is the memory lapse jet-lag or me getting older?  or forgetful?  or just being too excited about our upcoming travels? The lens cap had fallen off in the tumble and the bright morning sun glinted and scattered multi-prism shapes from the end of the lens into my eyes like fractured frozen ice cubes floating in a refreshing chilled gin and tonic - but it was only 9 am. The broken glass pattern etched into my memory forever. Anna says I looked like a family member had died or I was about to die. As I picked up the lens to conduct a post mortem I noticed the UV filter over the lens glass was badly smashed with multiple fracture lines emanating from a huge dent on its side. I sighed with a gasp and my face turned fish belly white as I forcefully tried to remove the stuck on filter from the lens. After several tries the filter unscrewed off and the glass on the newly cleaned lens glass glinted back at me and I smiled right back with  pink color returning to my face.  Nary a scratch, dent or single mark was to be found on the front of the lens. You can see the damaged filter resting against the hopefully pristine lens by in the above image. Did the $25 filter actually save my $1300 lens and my vanity? Would the internal workings of the lens grind to a halt when I snapped my next photo? It was, after all, a loud series of thuds heard.As we walked about the charming…

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