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Easy Travel Photography Tips to Keep in Mind When Visiting A New Country by Natalia Raben

Photo by The Paper Boat Creative

Photo by The Paper Boat Creative

Traveling to another country and visiting new places can be scary for anyone. You always have to prepare for a lot of things when visiting a foreign place. When you're a photographer, you also have to consider the situation of your camera and photo shoots before you visit a new country.

When you're abroad you don't have the luxury of being able to carry all of your equipment around. Going through immigration can also be a hassle when you're carrying a lot of equipment. You can't bring everything along with you because of all the processing you have to go through just to bring your photography equipment. This means you have to bring only the essential equipment.

Taking photos while visiting a foreign place means you will prepare more than just your photography equipment. You have to consider that you will bring essentials to help you with your trip as well.

You might bring a small dictionary to help you practice a few basic phrases. You might bring a tablet with you to keep you entertained during the trip. There's a lot of equipment you might consider bringing so only bring the ones you need.

Here are travel photography tips to keep in mind when visiting a new country:

1.    Know The Ins and Outs of Your Camera Before You Visit The Country

If you don't know how your camera works you'll be spending more time adjusting the settings of your camera instead of taking photos. Whether you are using a top of the line smartphone, a point and shoot camera or the fanciest DSLR, you should know how your camera works so you won't fumble with the camera during your trip.

You could end up with terrible looking photos because you weren't prepared to adjust the settings of your camera on the fly. Learn how to determine what kind of aperture, shutter speed and ISO value you should set for a sunny day compared to a cool, summer evening.

Knowing the inner workings of your camera will help you spend more time taking photos instead of learning how to adjust the settings. 

·      Read your camera's instruction manual. Many of the features and functions can be explained there.

·      Go online and watch instructional videos that teach you about the different parts of the camera and how they can work.

2.    Learn Basic Phrases to Make Your Photo Shoots Easier

One of the easiest things to do before you visit a foreign place is to do some research on the country.  You can start by learning a few basic phrases about photography such as how to say "May I take your photo"?

Learn the proper gestures that would permit you to take someone's photo.

Some gestures for a camera may be taken differently if you don't do a little bit of research. One culture may be okay with it but, others may see the gesture as inappropriate.

In any case, knowing the culture also means learning how to be respectful and you don't want to take photos of people and being disrespectful.

Knowing a few basic phrases can make shooting photos easier. The locals would know how to respond and accommodate your request to take a photo.  

3.    Ask for The Person's Permission before you Take Their Photo

Part of being a tourist is having good manners. One of the best examples of having good manners is by asking for someone's permission before you take their photo. When you're visiting a foreign place, the first thing you'll want to take photos of is the public spaces and the people in it.

Ask the person nicely if they want to have their photo taken. Here's where learning basic phrases will be helpful. You can ask the locals if you can take pictures of them with a language they understand so they will feel more comfortable. 

Once you have taken the picture, show the person their photo. If they are satisfied with the photo, thank them for their time and proceed with your day. If they did not like the photo and they request to have the photo deleted then, delete it. Be courteous and thank them for their time if they did not like the photo.

4.    Shoot Photos in RAW File Format

Photo by The Paper Boat Creative

Photo by The Paper Boat Creative

One of the biggest challenges of shooting photos abroad is the lack of time to edit your photos. Most of the time, you will be spending time moving around and taking photos. You want to have the freedom to shoot your photos and edit them later on. Saving your photos in RAW format will give you the freedom to edit your photos as needed.

The RAW file format is usually found in DSLR cameras but, recently, it has also been seen in a few point and shoot cameras. RAW photos display the photo as it was taken with the settings of the camera adjusted.  This means you can adjust settings that you won't be able to if you shot in a JPEG format.

JPEG file format, the more popular file format, compresses the colors of the photo and you will end up with a less than ideal image. Once you edit a JPEG file, the settings you adjusted will affect the entire image. You have to make a new copy every time you edit.

A RAW photo will give you an image that remains the same, even when you edit it. You can reset your image back to settings you made when you took the photo.

Editing your photos can be challenging if you're playing with the wrong format. One good way to learn about photo retouching is by learning from the experts.

5.    Make Sure Your Camera is Easily Accessible with a Light Camera or a Camera Bag 

When you're traveling, you don't know when you will find a good moment to shoot photos. The perfect moment to shoot can be unexpected. You could experience problems if you have to go through several pockets in your bag just shoot one photo. After going through all of your pockets, you may have missed the perfect opportunity to shoot the photo.

When you're using your camera bag you have to consider the extra gear you will need to make sure your photo taking is a breeze. There's a fair share of equipment you will need and that means having the essential items being available in your bag.

·      Make sure you have space for your lenses. You don't know when you may want to change the way your images look. 

·      Bring extra batteries. When you're shooting a lot of photos you don't know when your battery could suddenly die out. Having extra batteries will keep you from missing out on taking photos. 

·      Bring a lot of memory cards. Being in the zone shooting photos can make you forget that your memory card is running out of space. Make sure you have a lot of memory cards so you can keep shooting photos without worrying about your memory card reaching its limit.

A Little Preparation Can Go a Long Way

Photo by The Paper Boat Creative

Photo by The Paper Boat Creative

Visiting a new place can be challenging whether you're a photographer or not. However, as a photographer, you want to be prepared in more ways than the average tourist. Your gear should be stored in a place that is easily accessible.

You can't bring everything so bring only the essentials and you won't be lugging around your equipment everywhere. Carrying the essentials will make you worry less. You won't suddenly panic about not having the proper equipment with you because you already prepared them before the start of your trip.

Taking photos while traveling in another country can be scary but, it doesn't have to be with the right preparations of your travel essentials and photography equipment so you'll spend more time taking photos and less time getting worried.


About the author

Rebecca Van Ommen is the Executive Creative Director of    Paper Boat Creative   , a creative agency that specializes in high-end photo retouching, photo editing, and more. She was one of the youngest Art Directors for Getty Images in London. Her work has been published through some of the world's largest advertising agencies including Mother, AKQA and BBDO London. Rebecca loves to exercise in her spare time. She also enjoys bringing her daughter to photo shoots for inspiration.

Rebecca Van Ommen is the Executive Creative Director of Paper Boat Creative, a creative agency that specializes in high-end photo retouching, photo editing, and more. She was one of the youngest Art Directors for Getty Images in London. Her work has been published through some of the world's largest advertising agencies including Mother, AKQA and BBDO London. Rebecca loves to exercise in her spare time. She also enjoys bringing her daughter to photo shoots for inspiration.