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Photography: Mentally Preparing the Photograph v2.0


*This was originally published over at The Way Away.

In my photography post, we talked about a few things I do before I even pick up the camera to take pictures. It is, by no means, a complete list but I think it serves well to think forward and plan specific shots.

In this post you will just begin to pick up the camera. So, without further adieu…

1. Bring a notepad or make notes in your Phone.

I have never been a consistent note taker, but if you are that type of person there are plenty of travel photography journal options for you to use on Amazon or other places on the interwebs. 

If that isn’t your thing, use your phone to take notes. Otherwise it will be serving as a brick in your backpack (unless that is also your camera of choice). Use it!

Observe what is happening when you are flying into a location. What are you feeling as you walk off the plane into the Jetway? What are the sounds you are hearing? What does the air smell like? Are there a lot of people around you or is everything desolate? What are the thoughts that are going through your head?

Write them down.

Sometimes I will use voice memo on my iPhone just to capture the sounds I am in at the time.

Once you are in your city of choice…

2. Get something to eat!

What better place to explore and find travel photos than to go to the places that bring people together!

Food markets or cafes are a great place to people watch and begin looking for great photos.

If you find a place that you particularly enjoy then start a friendship with the shop owner. I feel that the best way to create photos is through relationship and genuine experiences.

By the way… I recommend you do not go to fast food. You have plenty of that just a few miles away from your house. Get out a little bit from your comfort and eat real food. Please.

3. Get lost.

Don’t just walk the tourists path. Escape from the norm! This is a wonderful place to experience the true culture of the people whose country you are in. Do you want the exact same travel photography as everyone else?

Get on a local bus you are unfamiliar with and try to work your way back to your hostel. This is where you will find the true nuts and bolts of the country. This is where you discover authenticity.

And now my first actual photography tip…

4. Shoot like you are filming a movie.

Wide, close, and closer!

If I am walking into a scene I want to photograph, I am thinking about everything we have discussed. How can I photographically tell the story the way it is unfolding?

I need to have at least one photo that sets the environment I am shooting in (wide). Then I want to come a little closer and find some detail in my environment. Finally after making friends I can get even closer with my subject.

Faces, hands, textures…

So there you have it, a few of the steps I take to mentally prepare to take photos on my travels.

What are some more of the steps you take to “get in the zone” with travel photography?

*Shout out to Josh and Ashley over at The Way Away. In 2015 Josh and I dreamed up this project for their year of traveling in 2016 they have never stopped traveling. (Way to go, guys, I am super proud of you.) Go subscribe to their Youtube Channel, or follow them on Instagram.