Take photographs not to show other people, but to learn, understand, imbibe. When I pick up my camera, my senses are on high alert, and that’s what helps me focus and take better photos. Choose topics, subjects, places that you feel strongly about and are attached to. This is what I tell myself everyday.
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Whenever you reach a new place, do not get down to the business of taking snapshots immediately. Embrace it first with your soul, connect to it, let your camera be an extension of what you are experiencing and then make photographs, make art. Also, for me, people make places. So try to bring the place alive through its people.
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The ongoing COVID-19 crisis has been tough for most of us involved in travel, and the going has been especially tough for freelance travel photographers. However, it’s not necessary to travel to far-off destinations to report from the frontlines. In this new normal, photographers should travel to local areas to continue with their passion for a visual language and to keep the world updated.
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You have to move around as much as you possibly can to get the right photo, the right frame. Movement is important when you’re taking photos. You can’t stand in one place and take great photos. If you want your photos to be dynamic, you have to be dynamic yourself.
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Don’t wait for the perfect frame… if you see a photograph, take it. As a travel photographer, you are always on the move, and the perfect shot may prove to be elusive. Chances are you will stumble on one when you least expect it. Also, sunset shots are ideally clicked after the sun has set. This is when you get a sky painted in soft amazing colours. For a more dramatic effect, slightly cloudy skies are best.
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Patience and practice. These are the two things that every travel photographer needs to be guided by. These pandemic times are the perfect opportunity to hone your skills, deep-dive into research on the subject, pore over YouTube tutorials and learn everything that you can. You may not get another chance like this.
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Wake up early and get that first light. What you capture in that morning glow makes all the difference. Even during these pandemic times, there’s always something to shoot, there’s always something to capture in a new perspective.
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There is nothing called good and bad photography. It is all about new photography. What makes a good picture is a new perspective. A travel photographer’s role is to connect a traveller with a bit of the world they have not visited, or even if they have visited, to present it in a whole new light!
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Stay curious about what you are seeing and who you’re meeting and talking to. Curiosity shows people that you’re interested in them and their lives and culture. And this is what will allow you to get a bit ahead in capturing your story, rather than documenting what’s on the surface. And that helps make a better picture.
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My advice would be to travel light whenever possible and have fun in the moment while capturing the best stories throughout the journey.
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Exploring always does you some good. I’ve learnt so much of the kindness of the world, which I never would have known, if I’d stayed planted in one place. Just pack a good heart and a curious soul. The world’s filled with miracles.
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Interact with locals when you travel. Engaging in conversations opens up a whole new way of viewing the places around you. Also, don’t be in a hurry to move on, return to places of interest at different times of the day to observe how the light changes.
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I think the best advise for young travel photographers is to spend time looking for all the hidden stories out there and work on developing your own vision, something that will help your work stand out.
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Explore a place at unusual hours. Maybe rise up early and shoot or shoot late at night, if that’s possible. Even the well-known and well-photographed places take very different looks at these unusual hours. Try to capture not just what you are seeing but what the place is saying to you; like us, it usually says different things at different times.
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Sanjana Ray is that unwarranted tour guide people groan about on trips. When she isn't geeking out on travel and history, she can be found walking around the streets, crying for Bengali food. She is former Digital Writer at National Geographic Traveller India.