Thursday, May 19, 2011

Travel Learnings #1: There's A Person In That Photo?

I've been asked over time for all kinds of travel tips and information but I never really thought about posting them. Today I'm starting a new "feature" where every once in a while I'll share things that I've learned while "out on the road". The topics will include travel tips, photography tips, an occasional random topic related to travel, or even just fun "hmmm...that's interesting" stuff. To make them easier to find, they'll all have the title and tag "Travel Learnings:". I hope that you find them helpful and entertaining. I welcome your feedback via email and/or in the comments section below.

Today's travel learning is about taking travel photos. Just yesterday the camera I bought nine months ago rolled past 30,000 in the photo counter. (Actually, to be technically correct, it has reset to 0000 for the second time.) That means that I've averaged something like 111 photos per day (!!!) since I bought the camera. Over time, I've figured out a few tricks to take better photos so I thought I'd start the Travel Learnings series with something simple you can do to take better pictures.

Have you ever looked at someone's travel photo and seen something like this:

Wow! Cool! Nice arch! What? There's a person in that photo? Yes, that's me with the royal blue shirt way up there in front of the arch at the Roman Forum in Rome. What's wrong with this photo you ask? People do photos like this all the time. Well, for starters, when it's crowded it takes forever to set up the scene so that you can see your subject as well as the background. If you've ever had to wait for people to stop walking between you and the person you're trying to photograph, I'm sure you've felt the frustration. Also, you really can't make out who's in the photo because they're so far away.

So what can you do? It's actually pretty simple as there's only two things to remember.

First, I've found that you need to make sure that you are far enough away from the background subject that you want to photograph to be able to see the whole thing. It's best if the background fills as much of the frame as possible without going outside of it.

Second, once you have the background right, you need to have the person you want in the photo to move closer to you. For some reason, people from all over the world have this instinct to move away from the camera like they're running from paparazzi. Get them to move toward you (or position yourself) so that they fill a corner/side (one quarter or less) of the photo with their upper body and head and then take a photo that looks something like this:

I've learned that this creates a more interesting photo because you can actually see someone you know. It also has the benefit of being way easier to set up since there's less of chance that someone will be walking in front of you while you're trying to take the picture.

Now get out there and see some of the world!

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