We’ve all done it: you go on an incredible getaway, you want to capture EVERY LITTLE DETAIL of every single thing you see and every person you meet along the way. And then you get home and find yourself uploading 1,000+ images to your computer, and you’re so overwhelmed that you never even get around to choosing a batch of favorites to print and frame or immortalize in an album. Am I correct? You’ve done this? I thought so. Because that’s exactly how I used to shoot.
What I learned from years of over-shooting, and thus NEVER printing my work, is this: I was actually doing myself a disservice by taking as many photos as I did. There’s a difference between REMEMBERING a vacation, recalling how you felt, things you saw, conversations you had, and just reliving through your photos. Photos are meant to help us remember, don’t get me wrong, but sometimes, we get so caught up in taking photos that we forget to LIVE through an experience! It’s the same mentality that’s behind the unplugged wedding movement- we’re so focused on our technology that we’re missing out on life. I don’t want this to happen ever, but especially on a once-in-a-lifetime vacation, so here my favorite points when it comes to taking great travel photos:
1) Take your camera OFF of multi-shot mode. Professional photographers, I’m looking at you. How many times have you gone to take a photo of something beautiful, and instead of taking 1-2 frames, you fire off 5-7? It makes culling (sorting through) those images later on that much more of a bother, and creates another stumbling block between your photos and getting them printed!
2) Don’t take photographs of every single thing you see. The first time I visited London, I was so enamored with the variety of pub names that I thought it would be fun to take a photo of every pub we passed by. If you’ve never been to London, you should know that there are likely to be at least three pubs on any given street, meaning I spent the entire first day wandering through with a camera stuck to my face and I totally missed the EXPERIENCE of just being in London that day. And did I ever do anything with those pub photos? Nope.
3) Delete duds and outtakes as you go. This makes for fewer images to sort through when you finally get home, which will hopefully make it less of a daunting task and more of a joy!
4) Don’t be afraid to use your iPhone! There were plenty of sights in London during our most recent trip that I wanted to share with friends but didn’t necessarily want to spend a frame of film on. So I took a few shots on my iPhone and published them to Instagram, and that was that. There are companies like Artifact Uprising that do a superb job of getting Instagrams into albums, so it’s not like you’ll never be able those photos in print.
5) Get some sort of non-touristy, non-obvious camera bag. I typically bring one of my Kelly Moore bags with me so that if I want to stash my camera away, it just looks like an ordinary purse. Anything that says “Canon,’ “Nikon,” “Sony,” etc. is just making you a target to pickpockets and thieves, which can be a bigger problem when you’re in a foreign country and are up against a language barrier as well.
6) Consider shooting film instead :). I know that’s not an option for everyone (I’m not suggesting you ditch your Nikon D700 for a 27-shot disposable Kodak), but if you have a film DSLR and know how to use it, consider taking that along. I know that when I’m in a beautiful location and have my 5dmk3, there’s a large portion of my brain that says “I can’t WAIT to show these off on my blog!” While there’s nothing wrong with that, I don’t want to shoot for my blog. I want to shoot for ME, for Matt, and for the stories we’ll one day tell our kids. Switching to film for all of my travel work has been so refreshing- I absolutely treasure our images from our trip last summer, and it’s because I wasn’t shooting for anything other than the joy of capturing something beautiful or interesting.
Shooting film also means I end up with substantially fewer images, with each of those images being intentional (since every click of my shutter costs about $2.00 with film costs and lab fees), so I’m much less tempted to take a photo of something that isn’t significant or truly incredible. Just to put things in perspective: I’ve been married for three years and haven’t made my wedding album yet from the 700+ images we received, but within 3 weeks of arriving home from Europe, I’d designed and ordered an album from the 250ish film scans I received back from the lab.
7) Don’t forget to ask someone to take your picture! Matt and I have four iPhone self-portraits, one photo taken in a road reflective mirror thing, and three images taken by our dear friend Angie. The ones from Angie are my favorites!
8) Make sure to print those puppies. I don’t care if that’s in the form of MPix, ShutterFly, or even (shudder) Target- just get those photos off your computer and into your hands.