"" Writer's Wanderings: The Travel Photographer In Most Of Us - Personal Documentation

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Travel Photographer In Most Of Us - Personal Documentation

Some people journal their travel adventures in a notebook. Some use their cameras or now their smartphones or tablets to capture the special moments. I do a little of both but probably more photography that writing. The pictures help me remember the trip a little better. I guess that's why they say "a picture is worth. . ." well, you know the rest.

Still, I like journaling a bit too. Pictures don't always capture the emotions I'm feeling about what I'm seeing. I've talked about journaling your travels through writing but today I'd like to offer some suggestions for the inner photographer in you.

I was there! Really. See?

There are those who need to show that they really were where they said they were. Those are the people who love the selfies or to have someone take a picture of them in the places they visit. We aren't like that although we do get the occasional portrait when it's a spectacular backdrop (we always need something for the Christmas card) or it's a major accomplishment like a climb up a huge pile of rocks to see a glacier.

Someone once offered to take our picture while we were on a tour and I laughingly said, "No thanks, we really don't want the kids to know where we're spending their inheritance." The guy turned a bit pink and walked away. By the time I realized he probably thought we weren't married and each had children whom we didn't want to know we were together, he was gone.

Trusting strangers with your equipment.

Before I go any farther, remember to not hand your camera, phone or tablet to strangers unless you can run really fast and tackle hard. Trust a tour guide or another person on your tour if you need some help. If you're single, selfies are the way to go. Practice taking good ones. You can even get an "arm extender" for most small cameras or phones. It's a stick that adds a couple feet to your reach for that selfie. Search online and I'm sure you'll find them.

What's in a background?

While standing in front of a sign certainly shows location, it can't be nearly as nice as the place you are visiting. Would you just go and see the sign without seeing what it represents? Instead find an iconic spot and use that as your background for the personal portrait. And instead of having your travel companion or yourself just standing still, try a little action. Maybe smell a flower, touch a rock, strike a contemplative pose.

Now there are places where you just gotta have fun. The leaning tower of Pisa is one. While we visited the area, we suddenly noticed all these people standing on the grassy grounds with their hands in the air to one side of their bodies. It took a moment to realize they were posing as though they were holding up the leaning tower.

Centering on your subject.

Remember that while you are documenting your presence in a certain spot, you also want to make that spot important in your picture. Offset your personal subject to one side or the other so that the viewer of your picture can actually tell what a wonderful place it was that you visited.

The people you meet.

There are often great local people you meet along the way in your travels and that's also a nice way to make your personal documentation. There is a shot I wish I could go back and take. I missed an opportunity in Turkey to get a shot of Bob with one of the locals who was sitting outside his shop and had asked us if we were German or American. Bob engaged him in conversation and it was one of the highlights of our visit to that city. I was so enamored with the conversation that I forgot to put the camera to my eye and take a shot.

Well, I could go on I suppose but I'm sure there are some ideas you have about taking pictures of you and your travel companions. What do you line up in your viewer?

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