When I first visit a new destination, I want to photograph everything. It seems as though each building, car, and street vendor is the photographic opportunity of a lifetime. Then, after a day or so, I regain aesthetic balance and make better decisions.
The “I just got here” phenomenon is difficult to overcome when vacationing. Often we’re in a “if it’s Tuesday, I must be in Paris” mode, and we find ourselves photographing everything we see and hoping for the best.
I think travel photography works out best when we have a little time to absorb our surroundings, filter the visual possibilities, then decide what’s best to shoot. In my article, Scouting a Twilight Shoot for c’t Digital Photography Magazine, I wrote about the advantages of visiting a photo opportunity during the day, so I would know exactly where to position myself during the narrow window of twilight.
It’s a little bit like sorting our photos on the computer. My feeling is that you have to go through them twice before you can accurately rate them. The thinking is that you don’t have context the first time through. What you might think is an outstanding image early on, may turnout to be only average compared to those later in the shoot. You need some familiarity with all the shots before you can rate any of them.
If you are on a whirlwind vacation, one way to become familiar with a destination is to study about it before you leave home. This can help you scout the best locations from the comfort of your living room couch.
Once you know where you want to go, then plan to be there in the best light possible. Personally, I like mornings and twilight. I’ve been known to go out and shoot before my family has had their first cup of coffee.
Doing my homework makes me a better photographer. Studying books on travel technique and the locations I’m visiting helps me overcome the “I just got here” phenomenon.
I know I’m going to shoot a few hundred frames a day. I want them to be as good as possible.
Derrick Story is the photography evangelist for Rocky Nook Publishing.