3 July 2012

Street art in Buenos Aires

Photography is as much a part of the modern travel experience as indigestible airline food in the 80s – although hopefully a bit more enjoyable. But have you ever noticed how fellow travellers and tourists can be so obsessed with taking photos of a place that they miss out on actually experiencing it? Its one of our biggest irritations, and the reason we started our company Foto Ruta in Buenos Aires and Santiago, a photography tour company that uses clue based exploration to help people explore the urban environment.

If you use the right approaches, photography can be one of the best ways to experience a place whilst also capturing awe-inspiring photos along the way.

Here’s our guide to taking great travel photos and really enjoy taking them;

Move your body

We’re not talking about the Beyonce song, we’re talking about moving around to get the best shot. The vast majority of photos are taken from the perspective of the photographer’s eye-line. Not because its the best perspective – because people are lazy and they shoot out of habit. Don’t be afraid to get on your knees, or lie on your back to achieve far more interesting and effective perspectives. Use your full range of motion and be experimental.

Be patient

Ever wondered how those lucky photographers manage to capture the perfect combination of an extra-ordinary moment against the perfect backdrop? Its not more likely to be the result of patience rather than luck. Seasoned street and travel photographers are willing to sit in the same spot waiting for hours in order to capture their decisive moment. If you have the time to spare waiting in one location is a great exercise to practice and the perfect opportunity to relax and witness life pass by.

Speak to the locals

People are often what makes a great photo and often what we remember most about places we visit. Cultural and linguistic barriers aside, starting a conversation with a local at a market, in a restaurant, in the train, on the street are all great ways to make people feel comfortable about taking their portrait, and, you might make a new friend.

Get off the tourist trail and seek out the ordinary

The best travel images are those that capture a sense of place without being overly abrupt and obvious. Head to the famous destinations (Times Square, Big Ben, The Eiffel Tower..) and you’ll end up surrounded by fellow travellers taking the same photos of the same thing. In contrast, if you seek out authentic locations such as local neighbourhoods and parks, social clubs, that’s where you’ll find the magic shots and get to experience the city’s genuine side, something most tourists don’t get to see.

Take a camera everywhere

Whether its your iphone, a point and shoot, or your thousand dollar SLR, it doesn’t matter. As the saying goes ‘The best camera is the one you have with you’. The best travel moments happen when you least expect them, make sure you’re camera or iphone is on hand to capture them.

Try your hand at a photo essay

Most travellers decide upon their itinerary and the camera follows. Flip the decision making process on its head. Try deciding on a theme you want to photograph and let the itinerary follow. It will likely lead you on a unique journey, to places you wouldn’t normally visit and you’ll end up with a series of images that tell a story. Here are some tips on how to create a successful photo essay

Words by Becky Hayes.

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