July 28 2014
Thoughts on Travel and Photography
by Pamela Sayre
As a self-taught photographer, I am always looking for classes and workshops to help me improve my photography. I especially wanted a class on travel and photography. Not the kind that tells you what to bring (I always seem to be the odd man out in that respect)or the f-stops and such (the numbers won’t stay in my head), but a class that addresses the actual images, what to photograph. I never found one that covers the philosophy of travel photography. So I thought I’d try to come up with some guidelines or suggestions on my own and perhaps someone will add to them for me.
What is unique? This, for me, is the most important part of travel photography, to capture the uniqueness of a place, what makes it different from back home. Think of many things – architecture, people, cities, monuments, the plants, animals, signs (I love different alphabets ) , even a color.
For me, Provence is a deep golden ocher yellow, while Morocco is a sort of dusty mauve-pink, and I have photographs with these colors.
Have a sense of humor: I like to photograph quirky or humorous things (really funny things, not embarrassing ones). A sign written in Dutch in a shop window in Macedonia was a must for me. So was a photo of a sign for a tae kwan do gym in the old city of Fes, Morocco (which dates back to the 8th century), and the “Real Fake Watches” sign hanging above a shop at the archaeological site of Ephesus, and a photo of the Detroit lounge in Casablanca – I went across the Atlantic to Africa and found Detroit!
I could go on. I love unexpected things like these, and they remind me that although I love the antiquity of places, real people still live there.
Make it personal: My husband and I are always looking for “Fortuna”, his last name. So far we have seen and photographed the Fortuna toy store in Sorrento and ads for Fortuna cigarettes. I saw a Fortuna grocery store too in Macedonia, but couldn’t get a photo. It’s fun to look for his name. Or focus on another of your hobbies or interests (trains, cats, dogs, dance, whatever) and look for relevant photographs.
Make sure you have at least one photo of yourself: This is hard for me as I am very self-conscious about being photographed. Nonetheless, I try to get one photo with me in it. This doesn’t always work when I’m by myself. But when my husband is with me, we always make sure to take a photo of each other. I would suggest not taking the usual tourist photo of you in front of the Eiffel Tower (unless the Tower is significant to you in some way), but finding something more personal, more reflective of you and your interests, a garden perhaps or up in Montmartre where the artists are, with an artist maybe.
Get the big picture and the small picture: I love details of architecture and gardens, so much so that I sometimes have to remind myself to back up and get the big picture. But details often give a real sense of place, for example, the ceramic planter on Capri decorated with the little blue lizards unique to Capri and one other small island – cute and unique.