Travel and photography
are so perfectly matched it’s as if some mystic force looking to reward planet earth facilitated the introduction, kind of like the best blind date ever. This might help explain why a camera is the essential item on every travellers Christmas list.
We’ve all spent hours in front of the laptop trawling through thousands of photos, and equally also politely commented and made various noises whilst forced to endure a fellow traveller’s slide show. I think we can all agree some people can take decent pictures whilst others need to work on their game – and then along comes the magic of Photoshop to save the day!
Ten years ago and I would have chastised you for using Photoshop but what can I say, I’m a convert. I have seen this black magic witchery completely morph images; sometimes by distinctly average photographers who have taken very average photos, yet created a masterpiece in post-production. I once took a photo outside a temple in India I felt was spoilt by tourists and although I didn’t do the photo shopping myself, a friend simply removed them…just deleted them from the photo – and just like that they were gone! Amazing!
Of course some people are just happy to take phone camera pictures, and they are perfectly content with this. I’m one of those people who carts around a DSLR camera, and lens for that opportune moment but I recognise we all have our own style. It can be a nuisance carrying around all that weight, not to mention the expense however, I enjoy the whole composition process and ability to remember my travels through a series of my own images.
My favourite camera brand without a doubt is Leica. They are high end premium cameras and its easy to see where my money has been well spent. They are stylish and easy to use, without over complicating things. Have a look at the Leica X-Camera and it will surely be on your Christmas list!
What is it we look for when we take photos in incredible countries? What result do we expect at the point when our camera clicks, and what makes those few photos so special? You know the ones which graduate to screen saver or print to frame on the wall.
We all have a different vision of the finished product when taking a photo which I find astounding. Take twenty people photographing the same subject, from different angles and with different visions. You won’t get two photos the same with some being vastly different. So again it comes down to personal choice and what vision each individual has for the end result.
What do I look for when taking photos in foreign countries? Typically photos of people and faces. They are photos which speak a thousand words without requiring an explanation. They make people guess the country it was taken in? What their position within the community might have been? Whether the image conveys a positive or negative feeling? But opinions can be formed based on the most superficial of levels such as facial expression and what fills the background. One simple picture, telling a story, with just a simple click of the camera. Just imagine those same twenty people taking a picture of the same person and how it could reveal twenty very different stories.
Who has not seen the enduring image of Phan Thi Kim, the Vietnamese-Canadian at nine years of age running naked on the street after being severely burned on her back by a South Vietnamese napalm attack. I have always been intrigued by this photo, it has such a hauntingly magnificence. This photo involves and demands I share the harrowing story, painting a mental image of what her home life might be like, but also that something terrible has occurred in her village. Something so catastrophically bad that things will never be the same again. It has a very powerful delivery and perfectly captures a single moment in time just with one click of a camera.
I also enjoy taking photos of the more unique flavours of a country, the idiosyncrasies that don’t necessarily jump out and say “Hello I am so obviously in Asia”. Whether this be a handle on a door, window boxes, ornate tile work or local plant or flower. These photos pinpoint the individual personality of each country, its own visual dialect, but could appear nonsensical to an outsider.
A fellow blogger @NeesStar recently introduced me to Stop Motion. I had never seen it before and find it quite amazing as it finds use for the pictures that never made the final cut. Stop Motion in its most base forms shows you images in fast succession, timed to your own personal soundtrack and typically lasts for the length of a song. Depending on the speed a Stop Motion video can blast through almost 2000 images. This is the video @NeesStar made in Paris, she has managed to capture the urban glamour of this large and diverse city, the rounded edges of the cities flavour, and all carefully woven together with some lovely music. Oh dear, there goes more of my free time!
Although taking the perfect photo requires significant thought process, sometimes the most important process is knowing when to put the camera down and just commit what we see to memory instead.