Introduction to Travel Photography


Travel Photography


Lesson Info

Introduction to Travel Photography

We've got a good class free today I think I've been traveling for quite some time and every once in a while somebody asked me what's in your travel photography class and I have to think for a moment what exactly is in there? And there isn't one thing in this class that's going to save the day and make your trip perfect photos come out it's going to be literally hundreds of little ideas and hundreds of tips, and, uh, we're just gonna go through this aa lot of the beginning part of the day is going to be some more technical nuts and bolts planning equipment in gear and so forth second half today we're going to have a bit more in photographs and so forth. The other thing that I want to address, right beginning cause every once in a while I would go to creative lives website and I would see this travel photography class unlike you, I'd like to oh that's my class on it sounds interesting to me and there are different types of travel photography, and this is not quote unquote, professional t...

ravel photography. So if you're trying to establish a career as a professional travel photographer, I am going to talk zero about marketing your photographs, how to sell them howto work with clients in the field, this is more about your personal own travels capturing your own journeys and the best photos you can of a location while you are there, and so I'm sorry for anyone who tuned in to try to make a business out of this. There are wonderful travel photographers out there, it would be a great career for many people, but that's, and you'll probably get a lot out of this class anyway. But that's not who it's really designed for its design, for kind of the typical person who goes someplace exotic on that once in a lifetime trip and wants to come back with a good record of their trip. So here's kind of the class plan. I'm going to go through a little introduction and I'm going to share a few stories with you about some my own travels and how I've got to where I am right now, we're going to go through the planning stages, how photographers plan for trips, we'll go through some of the equipment I brought in a couple of my favorite travel bags here, then we're going to go through and I'm gonna show you what I keeping him and how I packed with him and why I've chosen them after lunch after our break in the middle of the day, we'll get into just a little bit of technical stuff, you know what exactly apertures and shutter speeds. Am I choosing to shoot different types of events with and then a good portion of the day we'll talk me be talking about the aesthetics of how do you shoot a location, building a city in some ways or events or people will talk about approaching people and do you pay for photographs? Do you need permission? Do you need to get model releases? We'll talk about all that sort of things and at the end of the day I only share with you ten of my favorite locations, and while I try to present myself as an authority on travel photography, I've only been to a small fraction of the places in the world as the students were listing off where they were from or where they wanted to go or where some of you have been and want to go. I was either like been there or want to go there, but most of the time I want to go there I been to maybe thirty countries been to some pretty interesting places have had some pretty interesting experiences and I'll share those with you, but I have no by no means been everywhere. The world is huge there's tons of places to explore, so let me share with you the first big travel experience that I had, uh, as faras photography in my mind um actually before this picture I went to russia now, technically, I went to the soviet union back when it was the soviet union. I had been a student of photography for one year. I took my slr with two lenses, thirty five to seventy zoom and seventy two two, ten and I took I think maybe I took a lot of photos, like twelve rules of photos over about two weeks, and I thought I was pretty good. I had been shooting for a year and not one photograph. It was good enough that I felt like I could include it in today's class. And so I realized that if you've been shooting for a year, ten years, twenty years down the road, that first year is going to seem like you were taking very, very baby steps, but, uh, a little bit later on, I made a very foolish phone call. It was a great phone call, but it was kind of foolish. I called my buddy tim over here and said we should go for a bike ride, and I'm thinking of a really big bike ride. Let's go for five days around the olympic peninsula peninsula here in washington, I thought that would be a pretty epic adventure, and he said, I was thinking maybe we could do something bigger, because when you think about writing across the united states like, oh, they think about that one for a little bed and we got talking and you know, we've heard so many people about riding their bikes across united states what if we went someplace different and I don't know exactly how it happened, but we ended up in keflavik, iceland, and we decided to spend six weeks biking around iceland. Now I'm a photographer and in the plans for going to this trip, I said, well, obviously I'm taking my camera, my cameras will talk about that in a moment, and we're going to shoot lots of pictures, or at least I'm going to shoot lots of pictures and we're gonna have to put some sort of slide show together, and I have been doing a number of little slide shows for friends and family, and we ended up going on this bike tour around iceland, and I ended up taking three cameras with me, and I often will carry to sl ours and sometimes appointed shoot, so I can just grab it out of my bag and take pictures while I'm riding my bike and what we were documenting, for the most part was our experience writing around the island, I had no real hope of capturing the best pictures of iceland ever we were there on bikes and we were, you know, moving through and you'll never take the best pictures of a particular location if you're traveling there because you're only there for a very short window of time but you can capture your journey now on our trip is kind of unusual we, uh we carried all of our own food with us. We just took one giant marshmallow with us at least that's what we call these air hay bales that they stacked up, we always had fun, you know, playing around with them and so weak traveled across the interior of iceland, which is which was a very desolate area and we're always looking for great photographic opportunities and tim was kind of interested maurin biking the miles and putting the time in on the road and how many miles can we get in? How long is it going to take us and what's her average speed? And I was more interested in let's see what sort of great photos we could get, so I'm looking around and look at this desolate area. This would be a great place for a photograph and then trying to capture the essence of a place looking at what's unique, the grass that's their they have grass roofs, which are really unusual and so capturing those most unusual elements, and we found the people very, very friendly and I found that I'd love photographing kids kids because they're always interested in cameras and having their picture taken and oftentimes youjust encounter kids on the side of the road and have a little fun time talking with him. In iceland, they speak icelandic and they speak english, so it was very easy to talk to people, even young kids. And then, whenever we went by iconic locations, we were trying to capture self timer shots of the two of us riding. At the same time, I'm going to go into a special section on using self timers to capture your own photographs. And this is one of my favorite photographs in iceland, because in iceland we battled wins. And in the documentation of our story, I really wanted to show what it's like to battle a wind on a bicycle, and that is not an easy photographic subject to capture. And so I set up the self timer in augusta. Wind hit this grass just the right time as the shutter was firing. And so getting these shots of you kind of travelling, you know, this is a totally set up shot, but it really I told the story of what we were doing in iceland, and we ended up putting together a slide show unlike what I have ever predicted, and what we did is we put together about a forty five minute documentary with slides, and we thought about belene live narration. But we wanted to do more than that, so what we did is we took some background music and sound effects, and we recorded our voices so we could speak the sentence perfectly and we recorded everything, and then we presented it at the local outdoor stores and the bicycle clubs and other places that would have us come and tell our story, and we ended up doing that over and over and over again. We ended up doing it for several more trips, some of which you will see and that led to the opportunity of a lifetime. And that was when I got asked by famous wildlife and nature travel photographer aren't wolf to be a part of the crew, the traveling crew for travels to the edge art had just put together a project where he was going around the world, two great photographic locations and doing a travel photography show, and it was the opportunity of a lifetime because it was a very small crew art carl and sean or the cameramen carl's over on the right in the green shirt and sean is right here and it was four of us and we traveled all over the place and it was kind of interesting working on a small tv travel crew because I always thought there would be lots of people involved, and it was just us and we checked our gear on the airplane just the same way you would check on a normal airplane, we would take our two pieces of carry on. We had have to check bags that were at forty nine point nine pounds, you know, the very limit of what we could get on the airplane, and we hauled all our stuff from point a to point b we've had a number of interesting times traveling one of my favorite was when we're flying from bhutan to nepal and we got to fly over mount everest, where we had at least a very good view of mount everest, which is pretty rare instance to be able to see that in a plane and actually have a seat where you can see it and photograph it. To some degree through the airplane window, we got to travel on a ninety foot yacht up in alaska, which was very nice. We've travel old on large ships down in antarctica, and of course, we've been on smaller boats like little dugout canoes. I believe this one's down in brazil. It was amazing to me the ubiquity of the toyota land cruiser. That thing is just everywhere. I mean, if you want to drive around the world, you want to take a toyota land cruiser because I swear they have parts and things for it everywhere and every time we were in a land cruiser it looked a little different than the other land cruisers they've modified it for that type of environment. I love this one down and this is down in brazil, the pant now it kind of reminds me of the beverly hill hillbillies going because it that all these higher each seat was higher than than the rest just working on the tv show some of the things some of the ways that we would work whenever we were in the van were trying to take advantage of every minute we have while you're travelling and this is good for anyone because travelling is very expensive and we all realize that that's why we can't do it all the time and you have to be doing something every minute in some ways now some people just want to relax they want to go to hawaii and they want to sit on the beach and read a book and that to me would just be the worst vacation in the world. I mean, I want to do something interesting. I don't know if I want to read a book I can read a book on my couch I'm not going to go to hawaii to read a book having said that I do bring books when I travel because sometimes you're stuck in a car and you got nothing to do so arts working on his pictures he's going through doing a quick edit on his pictures, sean and carl are looking over tapes of video that they recorded making sure that they've got the bits and pieces that they want to work with when you're there, up in alaska, we ended up doing a lot of walking around. They gave us this big hip waders so that we could walk through the deep water, so you've got to be in shape to walk around a lot. One of my favorite bridges we crossed, I call this the indiana jones bridge. This is in madagascar att the singing national singing bama national park and aren't actually it was a little bit afraid of height, and the video crew made him walk across this bridge about a dozen times because they were trying to get something just the way the way they wanted it. And there was definitely and, uh, there there's the idea that we were traveling in luxury all the time, and it was the most exotic, best thing in the world. All you guys really have it made, and every once in a while we did get graced with a really nice hotel room like this one in india here. But just is often and maybe twice is often as having something like that we were sleeping in a place like this with zero air conditioning and a hundred degrees at night remember in australia we were traveling in the north west corner region of the country and we were travelling were driving her own four by fours and we were driving mile after mile on washboard road though they like this and you could just hear all your camera equipment in the back just rattling back and forth and it's like what's going to be broken this time down in south america, about five miles out of town, shawn was driving behind me and all of a sudden is I look in the rear view mirror I noticed that there is a well bouncing coming up towards me as we're driving and luckily we're able to pull off to the side of the road and the car was damaged more than more that could be fixed at the time and we had to take everything from two vehicles and put it into one vehicle so we had kind of everything spread out whatever cameras here ready shoot kind of plush and then all of a sudden we have everything stacked on the roof and were sitting like this for the next week we're in there so you know that bad things happen you gotta expect for plan for it one of the most amazing things I saw was when we were in australia called carl was shooting some video of art and there is the sweat bees around now they're not biting insects, but I think we all know that it's not comfortable tohave insects on your face like this there was another piece of video that I recorded that actually showed the bugs crawling into his mouth while he was pre v and he was just so dedicated he was so good at what he was doing because he wanted to get the shot he knew we had to get the shot. A lot of times when you're out shooting, you've got to get the shot and he just did everything to hold it still until he got the shot and then he got out and got all the bugs off his face up in alaska, sean was shooting made mostly the b roll, so he's kind of shooting the secondary footage and the assignment was shawn, we need to see a glacier cavity, get up it's six get the camera out and wait for a glacier to cath and it's about freezing degrees. You know, it's freezing out there and he said, now there at six o'clock in the morning and that will bring out breakfast, you just sit out there, you wait to hear a crack, and if it cracks you get the camera on that cabin right there, and so he had to stand out there for about five hours in order to get that cavity, which made a three second clip in the final tv show down in south georgia island, the animals are pretty easy to get around. They're pretty friendly and funny toe to stand around and so interacting with the animals cause art's great wildlife photographer was a lot of fun. One of my favorite wildlife interaction photos is this one of art working in madagascar with the dreamers? And so working around people way always pretty much always had a guide with us helping us, and this is so this is, you know, a professional crew working around, we would have local fixers and guides to help set things up and work with us, and over here we got aren't doing the stand up talk carl's filming him, and our guide is holding onto his backpack and guiding and backwards, because karl has to film shooting backwards, and then I'm kind of standing off, documenting the whole process, that's going on for the websites, support and other sorts of things, and so I'm always turning the camera around on the other cameramen and art and what's going on, and you pull into a village and after with large cameras and tripods, you're going to attract attention and sometimes that attention was good and sometimes it wasn't, and you're trying to hold the people back so that you can get your shots and so forth. But it's really fun traveling, ensuring your photos with people. This is in bhutan sharing the photos quickly, downloading himto a laptop and then doing just a little out the field slideshow for everybody when you're traveling, you wanna have a little bit of fun, but there's not a lot of things you could bring to have fun, and so one of the things that we brought with that was very lightweight was a little aerobics or frisbee, and, well, we just go out and expend a little energy, and sean was always very athletic and energetic with this, and if if art ever frustrated us, we'd throw it just a little out of his reach. One of the things that I was always on the hunt for is something that's personally very important to me that I find an interest in, and we all have our own interests and kind of making those connections in other countries for me, it's the game of foosball I love playing foosball and it's very popular in many different parts of the world, and I was really surprised in western africa to find these homemade tables. And whenever I could get an extra five minutes, I would always try to get a pickup game with locals and I would go in there and I'm very used to a very high end professional table with everything perfectly aligned, you know, everything working perfectly and on these tables, you know, they're using ripped linoleum and balls that are round and things and so all my tricks hear don't work there, but I'm still a reasonably good players, so I would able to be able to compete against some of the better people and so it was a lot of fun in ethiopia I was destroying them, but then I realized that apparently what I thought was a completely legal shot was illegal when they kept on complaining, no, you can't do that, but that's kind of the fun of traveling is learning as you go along and some of the tables were we're very in disrepair and it was sad to see that they were like this, but these were all handmade players and so forth is amazing in the modifications that they would make to play people always wondered about the equipment that the tv crew would use on there and we did have a fair bit of equipment, but once again it was something that we would just generally check on a plane without anything extra at the time and whenever we got to a hotel room we would spread everything out clean and check charge all the batteries, download the pictures and dealing with everything and so the rooms would just be chaos the whole time we were there and looking back at this picture this is taking awhile ago. Um so I was a lot younger I had a lot more money and a lot more hair. Uh this is back when we were in india and for some reason the guides that we were working at the places we were going required cash and I had fifty thousand dollars in cash that I had to carry with me, which is actually a fairly big stack and was very nerve wracking having to travel that much cash around up in alaska we were travelling on the congress cut river and we had to use solar chargers to charge your batteries because between the computers for downloading the cameras still cameras and the video cameras as well as a number of other devices we had to keep things charged up. And so we had these solar arrays that we had to stick out as much as possible when we weren't on the rafts and up in alaska, the sun's not up too high and it's not too strong and so we had to be very, very efficient about how we used cameras and batteries and so forth and we kind of all have to pay attention when we are traveling because there's limited time and sometimes limited power for all the tools and accessories that we're using under ideal situations would have a generator that we would plug into, we would actually bring a six pronged outlet so that we could plug plug in everything at the same time, and we try to set up a little download center where we could go through and officially sit down at a desk, and this was a rare luxury in a tent camp in kenya. More often than not, this is what my bed looks like, and it was one of these physic cool things. Well, I guess I can't go to bed because I'm not done downloading yet, and so I gotta get everything charged get everything downloaded before I can go to bed, and so it was it was a rigorous routine that we had, and quite frequently always getting to bed later than midnight, because I had to make sure everything was downloaded and everything was backed up. The computers at that time were not real fast, and we had some far too many problems with crashes and so forth and making sure that everything is really safe and as far as walking into an african village that's doing a voodoo dance, you don't just do that on your own. There are some places that you really need a local guide or fixer to get you. And so we were always working with these local guides to help interpret and explain and negotiate sometimes fees that you would pay for for filming or for shooting photographs. In general, what would happen is our guide would go in and speak with the elder of the leader of a group or tribe, explain what we want to dio and establish kind of one set fee for us to do everything and so it's. Not like we're going to photograph. One person is we want to photograph everybody for the next two hours, and this is one fee that includes everything so that yours clear is possible ahead of time about what you're negotiating for in bhutan. Lots of prayer flags around, great place to go and let's see which is with his toe. I believe this is molly this's molly's, cliff dwellings in mali and on one crew we brought in. A third photographer who was filming a behind the scenes and travels to the edge can be seen on pbs here in the united states, and it can be seen on various other public broadcasting systems in other countries, and there is one behind the scenes where you get to see how everything works behind the scenes and they interview me for a couple of minutes. And I kept on talking in this episode how ridiculous things were because there's life going on and art is documenting the life but we have a crew documenting our documenting the life and then we have me documenting the crew documenting art documenting life and then we brought in a video guy to show me and the crew documenting art and everything else this just felt a little too repetitious one of my favorite places what does was up in alaska going and looking at grizzly bears and we would walk out in this big open field and at one point when we were out there I could count seventeen bears around me but it wasn't extremely dangerous situation because they were more interested in eating the sedge grass is down here but it was fun inserting us right into the middle of the action in some of the most exciting exotic places in the world and so I owe a big thanks to art and his whole crew and travels to the edge because that's where I've got a lot of my experience is now I have other things that I've done besides travels to the edge but that's where I get ah lot of my experiences I've learned from the master himself and so that's a little bit of what what that was all about and I do get a couple of questions quite frequently one of them is what's the most unusual thing you've seen and what's the most dangerous situation you've been in so let me show you the most unusual thing I've ever seen or photograph I don't have a good explanation for it if somebody would like to explain it to me, I would like to understand because we left there and just shook our heads like leaving a very good magic show saying I don't get it I don't understand I don't know what's going on all right, so this is called fire eater and this was in togo, west africa, and there is a tribe of people that historically played with fire in order to intimidate other tribes, and so they have become very comfortable with putting fire very near themselves, and they would do unusual things like sit in the fire and not catch on fire, and then they would grab logs from the fire, take big chunks in their mouth and in the most telling photograph, I don't understand quite how you could do this and not have serious problems now clearly some of them don't have great teeth, but I I just don't get it and so very impressed very impressed just one of these things that makes you go wow, it makes eating like jalapeno peppers look very tame exactly okay, so the most dangerous situation that I've ever found myself in and I don't pride myself on putting myself in dangerous situations I was a little story. I call the naked gun and this has nothing to do with the movies. But those are fun movies. In this case, we are in ethiopia, and we started in addis ababa, the capital. And we had a couple of actually three suvs that we were driving out in to the wilderness into the omo valley is we got further and further from civilization. You saw fewer and fewer people. And the fact of the matter was, is that the people tended to wear a little bit less clothing the further you got from the big cities. Now the area that was thought to be quite dangerous was this one area between two tribes that were warring with each other, and apparently there would be skirmishes. And there would be shooting and fighting. And we needed to go right between where these two tribes were. And so what the army had done this they had set up a checkpoint on either side, and they would take a caravan of vehicles across all at the same time guarded so that if anything happened, the army was right there to help work with things. And so as we went through here, I've thinking that this was a pretty bad situation, now we got to there without any problem at all. But then we started having encounters and difficulties with our jeeps on the very, very tough roads in remote ethiopia and so in this case there was a very deep tire track and high centered the land cruiser and just got stuck there the eventual did he bring a tractor out from miles away to help pull it out because we just couldn't pull it out with the vehicles that we had and there was a constant problem there because they had a black tar now it's mud but they call it black tar and you could have a very, very slight income klein and a car's wheels would just spin on it just because it is so slick and so we were constantly getting stuck in this case we were going through a high pass and they're a tree had fallen across the road and there was a very, very rough trail going around the tree and our vehicle got stuck and we were stuck there for a couple of hours and we're sitting here kind of in the middle of know where we have ah small crew of drivers and so forth with us and as we're just kind of standing around kind of sum of some some of the guys were working trying to dig things out there was about twenty five young men carrying machetes that kind of just came out through the jungle and this isn't the dangerous part and we're like what's going on here this should get kind of interesting and actually they were clearing on the brush away for the road because no one had traveled on the road over the last six months and they were really nice they helped to push us out of the ruts that we were stuck in there and so I thank them very much that was great and so we got stuck on this mud we ended up having to pull one vehicle from one section to another and this is where things started to get a little dicey because we started to get to the tribal areas and with the tribal areas there they've encountered a number of tourists and they don't want you to take their picture unless you have some sort of contract an agreement to take their photograph and so you don't shoot pictures of them and we had kind of got word of this I didn't really understand how serious it wass and you can see on the far right of the screen over here we have one tribal guy who's watching us as were out shooting pictures of our own vehicles and I'm a photographer, you know, they're standing there I would like to take their picture and so I tried to be a little bit stealthy about taking a picture, so I zoom the land's backto wider angle so I could see these people in the photograph and as you can see the one kid over here on the right he knows what's going on he khun see that I have a wife I'm trying to get them in the photograph and he's yelling but he's not really the one I'm concerned about it's this guy carrying the two a k forty seven and he looks over at me and he starts yelling at me and of course I don't understand exactly what he's saying and I don't know what I was thinking, but I just said if you don't want to get photographed, then you guys got to get out of our picture because we got all our crew over here and you don't want to be in the photograph over here and I just turned my back please nothing they just feel really scared for a moment and there is a theory that a lot of them carry guns but they don't actually have ammunition and so it's very rare for them to actually shoot the gun, but they carry it around as if I don't know it's their prized weapon. Luckily, nothing happened, but I was very scared for a moment and maybe very foolish, so that was what it was a little bit of like traveling with travels to the edge now one of the things that I kind of task myself with was trying to get one really nice shot of the crew in a unique location and so in a cave in australia one of my favorite shots it's a painted cave they don't really know exactly how old some of these paintings are in india at the camilla this is I think maybe my personal favorite in madagascar baobab alley and a lot of other people's favorite shot is from south georgia island with the penguins and the mountains and so getting a nice good clean shoddy there and I'll talk a little bit more about self timer shots later, I'm not the favorite this is not my favorite type of shot just standing there here we are type shot, but every once in a while you've got to do that just because you are in a truly unique great location and so that's a little bit of how I got into travel photography and some of the influences and experiences that I've had that put me here or I am today and I don't we want to check in on you if there's any questions or anything quickly wanted discuss there are a lot of questions already not coming in rate questions, though one that did kind of pop out uh at me during this last segment was that a couple people of dan and look uh, dish uh lucas is asking if you ever paid to get the shot yes, sometimes you would with the tv show and we'll talk about this on a personal level in the second half the class but the tv show was demanding not demanding but we were requesting a notable amount of time with somebody and if somebody said, hey, could I borrow you for a knauer well, there should be some sort of compensation in some ways for that and especially the legal reasons for making professional production of something you sometimes need to pay for that. And so, uh oftentimes we were on the tv show, but when it comes to personal travel that's not always going to be the case in some cases you do it in some cases you don't aziz say we'll address it more later, but uh I'll leave it to later. So will you also be talking about kind of going upto locals and various people in different countries that don't have any forwarding thatyou're coming? Wazowski yes, how do you photograph the locals? What is your approach? And I'm coming to talk a little bit about that now? Well, I think just carrying the camera around so people know you're photographer you're not trying to sneak up and get a sneak photo of them in these cases uh oftentimes people will photographer and they're just gonna walk away and that's fine there's more than enough people you're willing to have their picture taken that you don't need to worry about somebody who doesn't want to have their picture taken pointing at the camera, can I take your photograph and then be quick about it? You know, don't go well, what's this why is my camera on this? Oh, what's this button, I'm you've gotta have your things down because you have their attention for seconds and get it, get it done, be done with it. They're happy you're happy move on, so we'll address that maurin other sections, but that's just a little quick camera fundamentals down before heading out to classes, and I think jared has a question. Yeah, there may be a slight for this later, but when I was looking at that picture that you showed us some with the dye with the flies just all over his face, his camera gear looked pristine. Do you have tips for how to keep things that clean? Well, the equipment that they use is very important to them that's, their tools and their very, very meticulous about taking care of it, and they do whatever they can. They also get the shot if you saw in the shot of the group of us in india, uh, carl actually had a shower cap over the front of his camera and he had a big old hood. So the shower cap just kind of fit quite right around, because there's a lot of dust there. And so when he wanted to get a shot, take a shower cap off. And this is just a plain old shower cap from the hotel bathroom and sell every night, clean and check. Make sure everything's working and so it's a process that you go through it. It's, kind of like in the military. They make sure that their guns were working and everything is in proper condition. Let's, just be really routine. Yeah, established a good routine.

Class Description

Travel photography is a wonderfully rewarding experience, but travel itself is a whirlwind in the best of situations. The mix of new landscapes, cultures, and logistical challenges can be difficult to navigate. Being an effective travel photographer requires careful planning and shoot preparation, but also the flexibility and openness of mind to take unforgettable photos.

Join pro photographer John Greengo for this class, and you’ll learn:

  • How to research and plan a trip around great photography

  • How to tell what gear you’ll need, and how to travel with it safely

  • Shooting tips and some of John’s favorite locations