Hello everyone! It’s Tina Erdmann, your CONFIDENCE Cruise and WI Teacher, to share six quick travel photo tips.
As most of you know I recently traveled to Africa for six weeks where I attended the inaugural Workshops with Purpose and volunteered with CARITAS for Children. This experience was life changing. I not only learned a lot about myself, but I met hundreds of people—some of whom have become a major part of my life—and learned heaps about life in East Africa.
Whenever I travel, my goal in taking photos is to tell the story. Tell the story of the people, the place, and my experience. Here are six quick travel photo tips to ensure that you capture storytelling photos.
1. Ask permission to take someone’s photo. For me, it’s the people who stand out the most and make my travels memorable. This is different for everyone—for some it’s food, for others it’s accommodation. When I’m traveling, I’ll walk right up to someone and start a conversation. I love hearing a person’s story. I love looking into his or her eyes. I was walking one evening while in Same, Tanzania and this woman’s colorful clothing caught my eye—and I love how Africans gracefully carry heavy loads on their heads. I walked right over to her and asked if I could take her picture. Unfortunately she couldn’t speak English, so I pointed at my camera and then pointed at her. She smiled wide and nodded yes. Luckily, as I was taking her picture, and we were laughing together, a young man was walking past. I stopped him to ask if he spoke English. He did, so I asked him if he would ask this woman if I could use her photo on the Internet. Some photographers even have each person sign a model release. I don’t go that far, but out of respect for them, I do make sure they’re aware of how I’m intending to use the photo.
2. Capture the details. This is a typical East African department store. This is part of the story of my stay in Africa as these are the types of stores I shopped at. The plastic tubs remind me of washing my clothes by hand. In the center, on the ground, are hibachis—small cast iron grills—used to cook food, and yellow containers used for carrying water.
3. Capture the setting. Usually when we think of the setting, we think of a landscape shot filled with mountains, trees, and water. But don’t forget to capture wide shots of places visited. This is the village of Nkokonjeru in Uganda. It’s in the bush. It’s 30 miles from Kampala (however, it takes 1.5 hours to drive there due to poor road conditions), and three hours from Entebbe—two major cities in Uganda. I lived just outside this small village for three weeks. We could usually find necessities in this small central area, and on market day it was filled with fresh fruits and vegetables from surrounding farmers, but we had to travel to Kampala to do our major grocery shopping. I love this photo as it reminds me of my many walks to town. And the red soil. I’ll never forget the red East African soil.
4. Go off the beaten path. No matter where I travel to, whether it’s domestic or abroad, I always talk to the locals. Not only will you learn more about a location in a five minute conversation with a local, than you would by reading a guide book, you’ll learn where the best places are to eat and to visit. Sometimes, they’ll invite you into their home where you can eat a traditional meal and really get an in-depth look into how they live. Now I’m a little more adventurous than most, so I’m more than happy to visit a village home in a Third World country when invited—after I get to know a family. But, safety first. Always be aware of your surroundings. Use your street smarts, and your intuition. I was lucky in that I had made connections through CARITAS on this particular trip, and most times had a translator with me. But even when I’m on my own, I’ll usually stay in a place long enough to get to know people, and they will eventually invite me into their homes. I love to see how people live in other countries. I love to see how they cook. I love to see how they interact as a family. There’s no better place to do that than in a person’s home where they’re most comfortable—and this is when you’ll get amazing story telling photos.
5. Take photos even when you think it may not be an ideal situation. For example, I was riding in a car from Nabingo to Nkokonjeru one evening during the golden hour. There was a beautiful soft yellow light cast over the road. I couldn’t ask the driver to stop along the way, so I started taking photos through the windshield. The windshield was grimy, and the dirt road was scattered with pot holes, so we were constantly bouncing in our seats, but there’s no way I was going to pass up photo opps with that kind of light. I used a wide aperture setting of f/2.8, blurring out the dust on the dirty windshield, creating a hazy look on the photo—which I love—and a fast shutter speed to compensate for the movement of the car. I could have easily made the excuse of poor conditions to not take photos, but I’m glad I didn’t! These are some of my favorite images.
6. Always have your camera with you and easily accessible. Charge your batteries, carry extra memory cards, and have your camera at the ready ALL the time. This doesn’t mean you have to be shooting all the time. There were many times when I left my camera slung over my shoulder and just enjoyed the moment. But you never know when you’re going to have the urge to capture something, and there’s nothing worse than a dead battery or a full memory card.
There are so many travel photo tips to share after spending a couple months abroad! That is why I am SO EXCITED to hold our first CONFIDENCE CRUISE Workshop this May! I still have a few seats left! If you NEED some sun, and love travel and photography, plus you LOVE the dynamic of being inspired and creative with other women, well, I should see you in May!
Read more from Tina;
How Photography Brings Healing