Why travel photography sucks (for me)

First and foremost welcome to my blog. I will share here my experiences with photography, my tips and reviews of gear I am using which works or not for me. 

I am not a professional photographer. I have a day job that pays my life and allows me the comfort of treating photography as my hobby – i.e. shoot what I want, when I want (or when I can) and how I want. And since I love to travel, this is a main theme of my photographs. Some of you may already know that I mainly travel with my family (for those who do not know, check out our blog 4przezswiat.eu).

This puts its own set of constrains on how I shoot photos which may correspond to some of your own experiences. I also recommend a very good series made by one of my favorite photographers David Hobby (aka Mr. Strobist) for lynda.com on this topic.

My story

I have two sons aged 7 and 2. This is a handful, for me and my wife, in terms of logistics, time and capacity to shoot. You will often hear from professional photogs that the main difference between professional and amateur photographer is in preparation, not the gear. Well, even if we do a lot of preparations before our travels, getting to some locations at the perfect hour (e.g. golden or blue) is impossible even with best intentions. And given the kind of traveling we mostly do (road-trips and changing locations often) it also means that time we spend at each location is limited. So even if we time it well, what if the weather does not cooperate? What do you do then?

You are there waiting for the blue hour and the weather does not cooperate. Luckily I could come back next day. Singapore skyline.

From limitation to creativity

If you are learning the photography, you will often hear that limiting yourself, e.g. by choosing a fixed focal lens, forces you to think creatively. 

I practice this each time I travel. My kind of travel photography requires making harrowing compromises on the gear selection (how many lenses? tripod stays at home or not?) but also on time/photo opportunity. If you have young kids you are already hauling a lot of stuff anyway, so sometimes the choice is between a lens or another pair of undies. I now take less clothes but still too much equipment (because, you know that f1.2 lens is too great…). 

I also have usually only one chance to take a picture, which means trying to make the best out of the location or scene. It has taught me to work fast, but I always feel that more could be done. The key is not to look back too much. Also, know your gear inside out - otherwise the moment may be gone. 

Marrakesh - I had only a split second to take this one. I wish I could spend more time shooting this amazing location.

Don’t force it

When you go to far away places, the likelihood of coming back is small. Thus the pressure of bringing good photos is high. Don’t give in to this mood. I found that each time I go with this kind of a mindset (I must get that photo…) I fail and in addition make horrible travel companion for my family. I try to force myself to just go with the flow and sometimes even take mental photos only. But if you happen to stumble upon a great photo opportunity, ask your travel companions for time and indulgence. Bribe them if you must. This is why building a capital by not annoying them in the first place is so important. 

What are your experiences? Share them below.