Travel Photography-China

When taking travel photography I am always thinking about what I want to do with my pictures after I get home.  I love making books and after each travel adventure I create coffee-table books of my trips. 

When you take 2300+ pictures there is a great desire to share all of them...but lets be honest most people aren't interested in even a quarter of that many images. My recommendation when sorting through your thousands or hundreds of pictures is to radically pair them down and only share the most interesting images with your friends. As much as I love looking at photography, scrolling through 200 pictures on Facebook does get old. 

Every time I travel I look for unobtrusive ways to take pictures of the local people. This can be incredibly difficult because you kind of look like a stalker when you start following people and surreptitiously trying to take their pictures.

I am excited by what I was able to get because I applied two strategies. First, I rented a very powerful telephoto lens. I have never rented a lens prior to traveling and it was a great decision. The lens was a Canon 70-200 F2.8. It is a large, weighty lens, but worth the trouble of lugging it around. All the pictures featured today were taken with this lens. I was able to get close to the people without them feeling as though I was getting too close. 

The second strategy I employed was that I was constantly looking for great opportunities to photograph. When I saw the opportunity I tried to catch the eye of the people and hold up my camera to give them the universal sign that I wanted to take their picture. There were only a couple of times when someone shook their head or said no—and in those cases I respected their privacy and did not take the picture.

In the construction of the books it is essential to detail pictures.  These images generally will not be full page images in the book, but they add the color, dimension and storytelling to all the other images.  My recommendation is to not forget to take pictures of the food, interesting signs, funny details, vegetation and all the other little elements that make the whole story.

I encountered a number of problems getting the shots I wanted on this trip.  Most of the sights we visited were very busy and therefore difficult to get those beautiful, crowd-free shots. Normally I will patiently wait at the sight I am hoping to photograph until there is that isolated second when it is people free, but I was traveling with a tour group and it is hard to always make the group wait or constantly having to catch back up with them. Now there are a variety of tricks to remove people from a picture later in Photoshop, but this also requires patience and time during the photographying stage and time was short on this trip. 

My last problem was one that I hadn't really even considered and that was the sky.  We only had 3 or 4 days on the entire trip when there was a blue sky. The rest of the time it was a hazy gray sky, with no dimention or variation.  Most of the pictures I took while sailing down the Yangtze are not particularly interesting because there is no contrast in the image. This is disappointing because I wasn't able to get as many dynamic photographs as I had wanted.  

To counteract these issues I have a couple of suggestions. Instead of worrying about getting a great shot without any people in it--get the best you can and then focus on the little details. Generally when photographying architecture it is the details that are the most interesting elements of the building.  While visiting the Forbidden city almost all of my pictures are of the details.  Focusing on the details will generally eliminate most of the sky as well--so if you are stuck like I was, no one will really know. My other recommendation is to push yourself to become more creative with your photography. Try different compositions, angles and settings.  The joy of digital photography is that you can practice, practice, practice and not have to worry about the cost of printing--you can just delete.

Krista BoivieComment