Pat Le Paulmier is a world renown travel photographer that treats his craft like it’s second nature. For many of us, however, travel photography is often just crudely snapped selfies to remember the time you visited a notable location. If you’ve been wanting to step up your travel photography game and take photos that capture a memory and tell a story, Mr. Le Paulmier offered some excellent tips. I’m traveling to Haiti next month so I’m applying each of these tips to my trip.
Learn about your destination(s)
Learn a bit about your destination’s culture and stereotypes before visiting, this can help you to know what to shoot and maybe what not to shoot. I learned that photographing people in Haiti can sometimes be viewed as incredible offensive if you don’t ask for permission. Haiti doesn’t have the same “in plain sight” rules that the US does.
Get your equipment ready
Carry enough equipment to get the job done, but not so much so as to detract from your travel. I’m going to be traveling with only my camera and a single lens for simplicity’s sake. Three days of our trip will be spent backpacking and it doesn’t make sense to bring my entire camera bag in addition to my backpack.
Master the use of your camera
“Master” is a rough term in my opinion. Does anybody truly ever master anything? I say you should be able to take the photo you want to take without stumbling over the controls or taking an abnormally long time to snap the photo.
Communicating with locals
A conversation that leads you to the best food in town could just as easily lead you to one of the prettiest landscapes in the area. Being able to speak the language is one thing but being willing to communicate with the locals could be your biggest asset.
Remain open minded
Simply stay curious.
Take photos of exceptional or unusual places
Shoot from unusual angles or take the road less traveled. You’d be surprised how even the most common tourist attractions can be turned magical from a different angle.
Shoot as many images as possible
Expect to be surprised. If you plan on only taking 200 photos, you should end up with more like 800. This is the age of digital, and a bonus 1,000 photos is as simple as popping an extra SD card in your wallet before heading off to the airport. You can delete photos later, but you can’t go back and recapture the moment that you chose not to photograph because you were concerned about saving space. I’m personally bringing one 64GB and three 32GB cards on my Haiti trip, which (if I get absolutely shutter-happy) should give me roughly 3,000 photos.
Catch moments of the daily life
The antithesis to the “exceptional or unusual” rule, this one encourages you to capture images of the mundane. Often the regular street life is that which goes most unnoticed in tourist destinations.
Drink water and maintain a regular diet. Don’t let chasing after the perfect photo cloud your ability to take care of yourself first and foremost.