You’ll find and hear plenty of travel photography tips all over the internet. Many of them are useful, but others may sound pretty obvious. This is why Mitchell Kanashkevich has created this video with seven travel photography tips you aren’t likely to hear very often.
The video was made while Mitchell was in Tkshaltubo, Georgia – an eerie area full of abandoned sanatoriums. Mitchell finds this weird place perfect for making a video like this, and these are the tips he gives to all you traveling photographers.
1. Allow yourself to be naïve
This applies in particular to people photography. Mitchell advises you to forget about your knowledge and wisdom, and get into a childlike, naïve, playful state of mind. Allow yourself to be fascinated by the people you photograph and assume that they do want to be photographed. Sometimes you’ll succeed, sometimes not – but it’s a useful tactic for getting genuine shots of people.
Of course, if you’re in a dangerous situation, naivety is not something to apply – but I believe this goes without saying.
2. The main event is often not the main thing (photographically)
Of course, sometimes the main event is photographically amazing. However, often this may not be the case. There are many cases when instances before the main event or behind-the-scenes are actually far more interesting from a photographic standpoint. Keep this in mind and always seek photographic opportunities beyond the main event.
3. There won’t be the next time
This is one of the most important tips for any photographer on the move. It’s also something that I force myself to do every time I see an opportunity for a good photo. Take advantage of your photographic opportunities and don’t look for excuses – because they may not be there next time you come. It’s not only interesting situations, light, and people that won’t be around, it can even happen to buildings and other man-made objects.
This made me think of a situation I had a few years ago when I was in Corfu. During a walk, I noticed an interesting mural on a wall in the Corfu Town. The sun was already setting, the light was poor and I thought to myself: “Oh well, I can take a photo tomorrow. I come here every single day anyway.” But, I changed my mind, took out my camera, and photographed the mural. The very next day, it was completely painted over and the wall was white. Grab those opportunities when they present themselves!
4. When the weather is bad, run for your camera
Usually, we don’t imagine dark skies, heavy rain, snow, and other bad weather conditions when we talk about travel photography. However, bad weather conditions create great photo opportunities. They add drama and can make photos more “real.” Not to mention that scenes like this are not very often represented in travel photography. So, try to take advantage of bad weather. Even if your gear isn’t waterproof, it can probably stand some rain or snow.
5. Embrace the ugliness
“Beauty is in the eye of a beholder,” as they say. Therefore, this tip is about embracing and shooting what you think is ugly and what you wouldn’t normally shoot. In Mitchell’s case, it’s Soviet architecture. Coming from Serbia, where this influence was largely felt, I couldn’t agree more. It is hideous, but there are photographic opportunities even in these places.
Places you find ugly sometimes tell more of a story than the beautiful locations you’d much rather photograph. By shooting at ugly locations, you add variety to your work and expand your horizons.
Personally, I have found beauty in places most people would see as hideous: abandoned buildings. No matter how much I love spending time in nature or exploring new cities (and photographing them), I am often drawn to “ugly” abandoned houses, factories and churches. So I can relate to this tip and, just like Mitchell, encourage you to explore the locations you normally wouldn’t photograph.
6. Be skeptical about local advice on places to go to
This tip refers to those cases when an enthusiastic local gives you advice for something you “must see.” And by “be skeptical,” Mitchell simply means: don’t rush. Google the place first and see if it’s “your thing” and if it’s worth changing plans to photograph it. Keep in mind that locals are subjective and certain locations hold a special place for them, while they may not be at all photographically appealing to you.
7. Aim to have the action on your doorstep
The last tip refers to accommodation when you’re traveling. Whatever it is that you’re photographing, always try to be where the action is. This may mean that you’ll need to pay more or be less comfortable, but there are many advantages to staying close to your event or location of interest. Mitchell took this a step further and modified his car so he can sleep in it. I find that pretty handy, but also really cool! Of course, you don’t need to do this, but the point is: always try to stay as close to the action as you can.
In my opinion, these really aren’t the tips I’ve heard often. I find them valuable as a traveling photographer, and I would give you a few of them myself. And if you have any traveling tips to share for fellow photographers, feel free to drop them in the comment section below.
[7 Unusual Travel Photography Tips | Mitchell Kanashkevich]