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Travel Photography

Lesson 26 of 32

People: Telephoto & Chaos Theory

John Greengo

Travel Photography

John Greengo

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Lesson Info

26. People: Telephoto & Chaos Theory


  Class Trailer
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1 Class Introduction Duration:11:45
5 Travel Gear Duration:19:13
6 Health, Safety & Security Duration:11:09
7 Gear: General Advice Duration:06:20
8 Gear: Cameras Duration:15:56
9 Gear: Lenses Duration:12:48
10 Gear: Tripods Duration:15:44
11 Gear: Filters Duration:04:08
12 Gear: Camera Accessories Duration:13:33
13 Gear: Final Thoughts Duration:03:55
14 Camera Checks Duration:04:20
15 Technique: Camera Settings Duration:13:30
16 Advanced Techniques Duration:13:00
17 Workflow & Composition Ideas Duration:07:42
18 Scouting Duration:17:33
20 Locations: Opera House & Dumbo Duration:05:12
22 Details: Buildings Duration:05:15
23 Details: Pattern Duration:14:51
25 People: Street & Candid Duration:08:46
28 People: Environmental Portrait Duration:15:37
30 Wildlife Duration:08:44
31 Events Duration:08:19
32 End of the Road Duration:09:35

Lesson Info

People: Telephoto & Chaos Theory

So if you want to photograph people, another way to do this is with the telephoto lens and if you're a little bit further away they may not know you're there and in a public scene like this, this is generally something that is fully expected in most societies. If you're out in public you are free to be photographed. There are some places that are different but in most places you're perfectly okay. And so now you can work with a more limited background area. You can hone in on your subjects, a little bit closer. Sometimes they know you're there. Sometimes they don't. I've found at least, most of the time, they don't care at all. Taking a photo, you're probably not taking a photo of me. Well maybe I am. These are all just nice characters I've found. Don't forget to go out your balcony window. There might be something interesting just out the window. And so shooting with these telephoto lenses, as I say, limits the background area so that we can have a tighter background and so now I can ...

have a nice clean background with this setting sun. So larger locations will give you the ability to use these larger lenses. You're often gonna be shooting at maximum aperture so a lot of lenses F4, F5.6. So I have a theory, the chaos theory, for photographing people. And one of the things that's interesting is, show you this photograph here. How much do you think I stand out in this particular environment? (audience laughs) I can tell you I did not have the matching clothes to fit in here. I don't think you can find a single person looking at me. Am I invisible? What's happened here? Well there's a lot of commotion. This is a busy market in Africa and I went up to this spot, which seemed like a pretty good point of view, and then I just stood there and eventually I was boring, not interesting. Nobody cared about looking at me and then I took a photo. I didn't walk right up and go boom, take a photo. I just, kind of, had to let the scene settle around me. You think of the waves in a pond just, kind of, let them ripple out. Okay, now that everybody's got used to me, now I can take a photo and nobody cares. If you stand still, after a while people just lose track of you. They're on to other things. If you're moving around a lot, people are like what's this person doing? He's moving around a lot. He's going over here taking a photo. Going around over here. But that person that's just, kind of, standing there just, kind of, waiting for the person to walk by that opening and then they take the photo. That's the one that's getting the good shot. And so all of these are just cases where I'm in, kind of, a loud, boisterous, a lot of motion going on around, and these people really just do not care that I am taking photographs at all. They are distracted by something else that's going on. And this is something that works over and over again if you move smoothly and quietly and you just don't make a big commotion about who you are and what you're doing. One of my favorite shots using this technique was in Morocco and this is in the Grand Bazaar, or wait, excuse me, this is Turkey. Grand Bazaar in Istanbul. And there's this large market and there's all these little shops and things that you can photograph and I really went there, I wanted to photograph the spice piles. I wanted a perfect set of spice piles and I never end up finding them, you know? But I've said before, you gotta be able to be open to new things. And so, especially with my running background, I was, kind of, fascinated by the shoe shops because they spent a lot of time getting all these colorful shoes. So you got color, you got patterns, you got some clues right there. And so I went around and I was photographing different shoe stores and their layouts and I found one store that I kind of liked and I thought, you know what we need? We need a person right there in the doorway. And okay, that's not exactly the best situation and so, can I wait around? And so I'm essentially in a very narrow mall and I'm just waiting over on the side. Now, I'm a little bit deceptive in what I'm doing. What I'm trying to do is I'm trying to photograph this guy over here. So what I'm doing is, I'm not like okay, I'm waiting for you. Okay, no, no, no. I'm just standing there and I'm looking down the hallway with an eye over here. I'm not actually looking over here but they're out of the corner of my eye and I'm, kind of, waiting for him to do something that's gonna look good in a photograph. And so, you know, I'll throw in a fake look at the watch. You know, like I'm waiting for some, where is this? You know, frustrated look. I'm supposed to meet him right here, you know? And then take a quick shot like that or two. So just waiting for those best moments. Now, I tend to have really bad micro luck. I've had a very fortunate life but I have a lot of little bad luck. What type of bad luck do I have? Well here's a good situation. Oh, but a person walks right in front of me at that very moment. And so, a moment later I get a shot that I'm happy with there. And so, all the shoes, the one person in there, and if anyone's been to this particular mall, you know that this is what happens in the mall. It's basically a bunch of guys looking at their phones sitting at a shop. That's what this mall is like. And so it tells the story of this place very well in this nice little tight story. And so when I say focus on something else, if you don't want them concerned about you taking the photograph, photograph something else even if you don't care about it. You can delete those photos later and then when it comes time, focus your energy where it needs to be. And so have your camera ready. And so, in my camera I was manually focusing it so that my camera wouldn't accidentally auto focus on something wrong. And then just pick off those few moments that are the most, that are the best for you. And so, in order to do this, not always my favorite place but look for busy, noisy, crowded places. So, you know, here in Seattle, Pike Place Market. You know, things are going on all over the place. That quiet photographer over in the corner might be getting some very good shots. Be very careful about where you figure out you want to be. Figure out a nice place out of the way. I love finding these little alcoves where I can, kind of, stand here and all these people are walking past me and I'm not in anybody's way. There might be some great places where you're just, kind of, standing right out in the middle and everyone has to go around you and I tend to prefer not those places. And so, it's very carefully picking out where my little corner is gonna be where I can get that shot. And just don't move around too much. The less you move, the less noticeable you are. And don't shoot too often because people, kind of, pick up, oh, what's going on over here, and you start drawing attention to yourself. And then it helps if you're not wearing anything that's gonna draw a lot of attention to who you are. Just simple, basic. I'm sorry this is horrible fashion advice but for photography, dress boring. You know, dress boring.

Class Description

Are you going on a once in a lifetime trip and want to have photos that you can share with friends and family? Do the decisions of what to bring, where to shoot, and what to capture feel overwhelming? Travel photography can feel challenging, time consuming, and expensive. But with the right tools you can plan and prioritize to come home with images that you treasure.

Join photographer, educator and author John Greengo, who has photographed all over the world, as he guides you through all of the steps that you need to capture the photos that you want during your travels. This class will offer different plans of what to bring, and how to create a realistic agenda based on your priorities, whether it’s documenting your trip, telling a story through photographs, or simply capturing great images.

John will teach you:

  • What gear to pack based on your goals.
  • How to create a media storage plan and workflow while traveling.
  • Best practices on how to find and scout the best locations to photograph.
  • How to approach locals and build trust before taking their portraits.
  • Camera techniques and settings for different shooting scenarios.
  • Different types of travel photos, such as The Walk Away, The T-Shot, and Environmental Portrait.
  • What to do with your photos once you’ve returned home.

Don’t let the challenges of travel photography keep you from capturing images that will provide you with lifelong memories. Join John Greengo to learn the best techniques, tools, and technology to capture great photos no matter you limitations in time, money and resources.



As usual John has been an awesome instructor. He is so energetic and fun. I love taking his courses and this was no different. I absolutely loved it. I have learned so much by taking his courses. Thanks John for all you do to help us beginners out.

Melissa Maxwell

So inspiring! This class is so comprehensive and I look forward to applying all of Greengo's tips. He is a wonderful instructor and the example photos are breathtaking.

a Creativelive Student

John Greengo was fresh, exciting and entertaining. He was extremely well prepared for this class, and I loved hearing little nuggets from such a seasoned travel photographer. The course provided great content and ideas I can take with me on my next trip!