World-renowned photographer Steve Davey knows about everything from making use of ambient light to choosing the right zoom lens, but ask what it really takes to take great photos and he’ll tell you it’s all in your head…
“The single most effective piece of camera equipment that you can take with you on your travels is your mind. If you want to take great travel pictures, you have to think! Snap away with little or no thought or creativity, and you will be lucky to come back with anything other than simple record shots.
The first thing you need to do is simply be interested. Interested in the world. Interested in people. Interested in new things, old thing, things that work and things that don’t.
Ask yourself the simple question: what is it about your subject that makes you want to photograph it. Once you work out your motivation, this will help you know how to take your photograph.
Think about what you want to have in the picture and how different things work together. One of the most powerful things that you can do with your photography is to control your background. Whether you are shooting a portrait or an object, experiment with altering your angle to have a different background. Choose something that is significant to your subject in some way, and says something about it.
When you are taking photographs, try to get in close to the action. If you use a wideangle lens, and get in close, you can shoot dynamic images. This will also have the advantage that it will be hard for anyone else to get in your way! Being close to the action will not just lead to more interesting images, it will also give you a more intimate and engaged experience.
If you can’t get close to the action then try to get up high. I am not talking about smoking suspicious chillums with Indian sadhus, but look for a high vantage point to shoot down on your subject. This unique viewpoint can almost always create an interesting shot. It is also a great way to accentuate crowds and get a great overview of a city or festival.
Travel photography isn’t all hard work though. Travelling with a camera can actually enhance your travel experience, helping you to get far more out of your trip. It will give you the perfect excuse to walk up to interesting people and talk to them. It will give you the perfect motivation to get up for sunrise, climb every hill to photograph the view and explore every city or festival that you can.”
Steve Davey is the author of the Footprint Guide to Travel Photography, crystallising the knowledge picked up on over twenty years taking pictures on the road. He has launched his own range of travel photography tours – with all land arrangements provided by Intrepid Travel.
Photos: © Steve Davey