Boring Vacation Pictures?

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve bored myself before, during, and after a vacation or excursion. The destination was fine, but I wasn’t enthused with the resulting photographs. But I’m a seasoned photographer, what gives?

I used to be guilty of taking too many digital images of the same subject from the same point of view. With the explosion of smartphone photography, this approach has become aesthetically numbing. No matter the camera type, any of our photographs could technically qualify to grace the pages of National Geographic. But what would make our pictures of, for example, the pyramids or the Effiel Tower, stand out from the usual fare?

I’ll tell you what I do. What you don’t see in this picture of the pyramids is the line of bus traffic I waited to pass by. The camels entering the view made it appear like a scene from 1910 and not 2010.

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Speaking of camels, I ditched the standard animal shots to wait for them to cause a “traffic jam.”

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How many times have we seen open-air markets in foreign lands? Too many. I waited till nightfall and photographed the person who cleans up in Old City Jerusalem’s street market.

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Forget about staged or group portraits, it was more interesting photographing these Bedouin guides during a night expedition.

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Here’s a quickly assembled color series from a trip to Hawaii.

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Here are my tips to create a compelling narrative while developing a critical photographic eye before, during, and after a vacation.

1. Google your destination. See what has been photographed before and what possible perspectives may be available for you to shoot from. Then again, it may be preferable to not look at anything until you arrive there with fresh eyes.

2. Become familiar with and shoot with one focal length. Too many changes between wide angle and telephoto views can be confusing to you as well as your audience.

3. Ruthlessly edit down the number of images. Get rid of duplicates.

4. Ruthlessly select the best images from your destination. A single image may represent a single experience or a single stop.

5. Regard your selections as special, as if they were in a show. As a matter of fact, make prints instead of putting your photographs on a video screen. 10 to 20 compelling images will be more interesting than 200-300…trust me.

In my next post, using the above method to edit images from a recent trip to San Diego and Carlsbad, California. I took about 300 digital and film images, but I’m not going to bore you with everything. 😃

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jtolbertjr

A former event photographer, I became an early adopter of, advocate for, and then a digital camera addict. After half-a-million frames taken and thousands of dollars spent, I no longer stress over the camera brand or worry about the number of megapixels. I ignore the marketing of the camera manufacturers that promote technology over the eyes of the photographer. I’ve returned to simple film cameras with the understanding that one should not have to be a Ph.D. in physics to operate a camera. Photography doesn’t have to be complicated. Visualizing the moment and finding the light is more important. Just point, shoot, and preserve your memories, create your art. After 15 years of being an “unofficial” camera engineer for Nikon, Canon, Leica, Fuji, and Ricoh, I’m still on a journey of recovery. Along the way, I’ll share how I adapt to a more considered photographic practice that promotes a more contemplative way of life.

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