The only way to see the rhythm of life in a place, is to experience it
Many places, particularly, are active very early in the morning and late in the afternoon but rather in a lull around midday. Get up early, stay out late. Time spent discovering the place will enrich your experience.
Wander down alleys. Sit in around and watch life pass by. Set off down a street and see where it leads. Get away from the crowd. I find that if I meander away from the tourists and tourist sites, away from what is too familiar and comfortable, it’s much easier to adapt to the rhythm of a place.
Always have your camera with you and always keep your eyes open. You never know what you are going to run into. You will see what could be a good many, you will have to come back later. Sometimes you get lucky.
You stumble upon a scene at just the right moment. If you fumble around, the moment may be gone before you can recover. Whether you are doing street photography or visiting a natural or man-made site. The ray of sunshine or the soaring eagle, that add the needed element to your photograph are unlikely to hang around. Think of it as hunting—whenever you leave the confines of your camp, you should be ready and able to capture whatever comes up.
Making good photographs requires a commitment of time and energy. It may help to make photography a scheduled part of every day, so you know you have the time and won’t be tempted to get lazy and say, “I’ll do it tomorrow.” Don’t procrastinate.
When traveling, you’re likely to encounter all sorts of situations and subjects. You need to be able to photograph portraits and landscapes.
Never be satisfied with your first view of a place or the first frame you snap. It’s always possible—and usually likely—that you can come up with something better. Get closer and loser. Try different angles, different lenses. Wait for the light, wait for the crowd, wait for a bird to land on the tree branch. Never be in a hurry to get somewhere else.
If you want to photograph someone, it’s best to ask permission, especially if you are working in close. Engage them before you pull out your camera. Say “hello” and “May I take a photograph” in the local language. Explain to them what you want to do and what it is about them that made you want to take a picture. When approached in a friendly manner, most people will be agreeable, many are flattered that someone has shown an interest in them. You may run into people who are tired of being photographed in places where there’s a lot of tourism, local people can come to feel exploited. Spend time with the people or to go to parts of the place less frequented by tourists.
Many of these places people are desperately poor and may ask for money if you want to photograph them. How you deal with these situations is up to you. Why not spend a little for your own photos instead of a postcard.
You cannot always ask permission, if you are shooting a street scene, you can’t run up to everyone and ask if it’s OK. People do not mind this sort of photography, it’s only when they’re singled out that they get uncomfortable. If people are getting nervous, ask permission or move on.
If the facade of a particular building appeals to you, the picture may be that much better if you show people walking in front of it. They will give it scale and also let viewers know what sorts of people live there.
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