Travel Photography: The Challenges
All right, this first section on approach, I'm actually, I feel like I'm still needing to state my case for travel photography. I know that I'm preaching to the choir here, both in the studio and at home, but I still wanna tell you why I love travel photography before we get too far into this. So I think travel photography is really photography at its best. Photography can be used for so many different things but showing what a location looks like is something just, I don't know, it cuts right to the core of what are these other places, these wonderful places around the world like? It gives you a feel for the backdrop of life of a particular location. You can share significant elements of a culture. You can show just quiet moments on a street. You can show the struggle of places. You get to show the people of a land and this is all outward focusing. You can turn the camera around on yourself and you can focus on your own journeys. I've taken a number of bicycle and other adventure type...
journeys where I wanted to tell the story of riding my bike around Iceland. I wanted to let people see this adventure through my eyes. I wanted to take them on my journey. I wanted to show them the dangers and the ruggedness in certain areas and in all these cases, every once in a while, there's a photo that just perfectly captures what you're seeing and hearing and feeling in a particular photograph and I think that's just no better way to come home from a trip is to have a photograph that is like that. But I do have to admit that travel photography is difficult. There's a lot of things that are challenging about it and let me confront one of them right up front. It is expensive. This is not a great hobby for somebody short on money. The camera equipment, the airplanes, the motels, rental cars, all that sort of stuff, can cost a lot of money. And the places that I am very fascinated with are islands. Australia, yeah I know it's a continent, but it's an island. Iceland, Madagascar, target-rich environments as I talked about before, some really good places and so I love going to islands because they're very unique like that, but those plane flights are more expensive than everything else. Another good quote for you here. I don't completely agree with this. I think it should say travel and education in there but I think both of those things will make you a better person. It can be really hard work. That's if you really wanna put the time into it and this is, you know, completely up to you. You can be on your next trip to Disneyland and you say, I just wanna take one picture in front of the castle, that's it. And there's other people who wanna go much, much deeper into it, which is usually where I am, the deep end of the pool in travel photography. One of my trips, I was doing a canoe trip up in Canada and I was trying to tell the story of me and my buddy going down the river. Well you can't just have a picture of your buddy all the time, you need two of you in the boat. Well how do you get a shot like this? Well you gotta dock the boat. You gotta put your camera up on a tripod. You set up an intervalometer. You synchronize it with your watch. You go back upstream, you come back down the river perfectly synchronized with when the camera's going to fire so that you can get this shot. It takes about a half an hour of running around and hoping that you got everything right and that just took a lot of work. In Egypt, the picture was simple to take. You just press the button. Getting here was a whole other issue. Getting permission to get into this area, I had three different people in the car besides me so that I could get there and there's a lot of things that make it difficult to get certain shots. You need time to photograph. I always fear that person who says, yeah I got this great trip planned. We're goin' to Europe. We're gonna see eight different countries in six days. It's never gonna work. I was in Rome, the Vatican, and I found this stairway. I go, this is a great stairway, it needs people. I will wait here 'til some good looking people come along. You'd be surprised at how many ugly people there are. Well, you know, they're not ugly, but you know, they've got four or five of them, some are going up, some are coming down. The guy's four steps ahead of the girl. It just doesn't look right on camera and so I wait, I wait, I wait. I wait about an hour to find a nice looking couple going up or down the staircase. I have a running background, as some of you know and so I'm more than fine if you say, that's a five mile walk. That's great, we're gonna find all sorts of photos along the five mile walk. I'm gonna save you the stories of my hiking, biking, canoe adventures where I'm doing all sorts of ridiculous things. I'm talkin' about standard stuff. We'll go to one of the most popular places for travel destination, Budapest. I wanted to go out and shoot a bunch of stuff and I don't know if you have those step things on your phone or you know, Fitbits or something' like that. I recorded over 44,000 steps in one day 'cause I got up before it got bright out 'cause I wanted to be out there during the sunrise and I just wanted to walk because that's the best way of finding stuff is just walkin' around 'cause you can stop, turn around and shoot. 8:00 in the morning, I'm catching first light on the church. By noon, I'm climbing the bell tower looking down on the surrounding buildings. 2:00 p.m. I'm walkin' around on the cobblestone streets and 9:00 p.m. I'm catchin' some night lights on the parliament building. And yeah, I'm stoppin' for lunch and takin' breaks and things like that but you can do a lot of walking in one day if you're not doing anything else and it just helps to be in shape. Be fit for the trip that you're going to take. Now I know there's some old fogies like me out there that might be lamenting about, well it's not what it used to be because now everybody's traveling. There's so many people. Those travel destinations are so crowded. The world has changed quite a bit, all right? And I'm gonna reach back a little bit just to show you how much it has changed. Think about transportation for a moment. If you wanna go from New York to Rome, that's $800. I went back into the records to try to find what this would actually cost. Back in 1950, it would've been $3000 in today's dollars. Think about what that would do with all the air flights if they all quadrupled in price, all right? So they are dirt cheap in some ways for traveling on the airplane. Thank about staying in communication with your business or your family, your friends back home. You can call pretty much anyplace for like a dollar with the right calling card these days. Back in 1950, just to call from New York to LA, it was about 40 of current dollars to talk for five minutes. I know now some of your are old enough, are you on a long distance call? You'd get that from your... How long have you been on that call? Seven minutes, you better hang up soon. It's just dirt cheap now. Think about once you have your camera equipment, how much does it cost to take the photos on the trip? They're not quite free yet, but the memory cards are very, very cheap. Back in the days where you had to buy film and get it developed, you could easily spend $1, on shooting photos. And now we don't even think about it. I'm just gonna go shoot. I don't know, five, 10,000 photos and it won't cost me an extra dollar 'cause I'm just reusing all that digital stuff. And so this, I was just thinking, you know I forgot a slide. What is the population of the world done between 1950 and now? I don't know, it's probably doubled, maybe, I don't know if it's tripled, but it's at least doubled in that time and there's all these more people going out there and so every place you go is gonna have more people on it. And we'll talk just a wee bit about selling photographs and the demand for travel photography. This class is not about the business of travel photography but we'll touch on that as we go throughout this class. I think there are numerous talents to a good travel photographer. First thing is I think it helps a lot if you're a good traveler. Now we all know that there are people who are better at traveling than other people and so these are some of the characteristics that I think are important for anyone who wants to travel. And every once in a while, I'll run across somebody who says yeah, but I'm not that patient. And I feel like goin' into Dad mode and just say, well you better get some patience 'cause you're gonna need it. And so, if you don't already totally embrace these characteristics, just kinda put it on a back burner. This is something I wanna get better at. I wanna try to do this better because when you're out traveling, you wanna feel comfortable and relaxed about what you're doing. If you're not, you're not gonna be shooting the best photos you can. If you're gonna be a travel photographer, you also need to be good, as we said, in a variety of different types of photography. Now some of you are people picture takers and others are landscape photographers or street photographers and I think to be a good travel photographer, you kinda just embrace the whole smorgasbord. You get to do a little bit of everything and you know, you probably haven't seen a class here at CreativeLive on portrait photography with John Greengo. I would like to teach one someday, you know? It's not my best thing I don't think but when I do get that opportunity to take portraits when I'm traveling, I like that 'cause I'm getting better at something that I want to improve on and so you know, if you're taking classes, if you're trying to improve, just think, okay which one of these things am I not that good at, do I not have that much experience, and I'm gonna go out and I'm gonna work and I'm gonna try to get better at that so that when I go on my next trip, I'm more skilled at doing that particular style of photography.