3 Times You'll Need Patience as a Travel Photographer
April 25, 2016
On our way to Red Mountain, British Columbia, traffic was delayed because of a sanding truck farther ahead. December 2014
One character trait that is particularly important to travel photography, is patience! If you aren't naturally patient, it's something to work on because the need for it will appear time and again. Whether you're a professional photographer or simply looking to advance your vacation photos, slowing down and taking a break will help improve your experience as well as your images. Here are three instances when you'll find a little patience goes a long way.
Nathanael wait for our train to Prague, in the Berlin Hauptbahnhof. June 2015.
1. In Transit In order to take travel photos, you need to...surprise...travel! You might prefer to travel by plane, train, or automobile, but there is the possibility with all of these that you will be delayed. As scenic as the journey can be, for many people this is the most trying aspect of traveling - actually getting there. There might be weather delays, road blocks, detours, medical emergencies, and so on, not to mention the challenges of traveling with so many other people. But, there's nothing you can do about it, so take a deep breath and remember that the journey is part of the experience. Besides, it makes for an interesting start to your trip...right?!
Me, watching for interesting subjects in the Prague castle courtyard. June 2015.
2. At Your Destination Imagine that you've arrived at your destination and now you're out exploring, camera in hand. There's so much to see, and capture, that you run from sight to sight. But, there are two reasons to slow down:
A) You're likely to wear yourself out early on in your trip, and even suffer photography fatigue.
B) Unless you're extremely skilled AND lucky, it's unlikely that a quick shoot at each place will produce the photos you're imagining bringing home. It's rare that your first shot will be the keeper.
Sure, you might have time to grab the classic postcard shot, and if that's all you're after I suppose you can skip on to the third reason photographers need patience while traveling. But for everyone else, wouldn't you rather explore a place a little deeper and photograph the parts that stand out for you? Take a little time to just observe and absorb the scene before you and think about what stands out to you. And then, once you know what it is you want to photograph, consider how you will compose your shot. How is the light? Are there random objects cluttering your scene? Should you ask your subject to take a step to the side so the streetlamp behind them no longer appears to be growing out of their head?
Example images straight out of camera (left) and with basic edits (right). It only takes a little editing to wake up an image.
3. At Home. You've made it home with a bag of full memory cards, and you can't wait to share your photos and amazing experiences on social media. I get it, I mean we've all been there. But before you go crazy posting hundreds of images, take some time to review them. Look at them on your computer screen, where you can zoom in to 100% and check for sharpness, and double check (because you already did this before you released the shutter) for litter and other small details that are easy to miss on your phone or small LCD screen on the back of your camera. Mark your favourites - whether your best images technically, or your favourite selfie, or something in between - and edit them. You don't need to be a Photoshop pro, but some basic editing, like straightening horizons and adjusting white balance, brightness, and contrast (all of which you can do in even basic editing programs), will go a long way in adding a little more oomph to your photos.
There you go - three reasons why practicing patience as a travel photographer is worthwhile for your images and overall experience.