How to Organize a Photo-journey
Today it is difficult to imagine a tourist going on a trip without a camera. Canon, Nikon, Olympus have long been an equally necessary part of baggage as a swimsuit or a first-aid kit. More and more often, people setting on a journey, aim not only to visit other countries and cities, but also to bring back their memories of the trip – including in the form of good shots. And for some it even becomes a primary goal.
And then travelling will have to be put on a new level, because obtaining good images in a bus tour, through the glass of a dungeon on wheels speeding through the mountains and valleys, is not possible. Of course, some images may be good and even remind tourists of the favourite sites visited, but the percentage of really good and interesting pictures would be insignificant.
And this is logical – after all the tourists travelling in a bus tour, stay mostly out of town, where there are not so many interesting objects to shoot, and in the morning and at night they are occupied with checking in and out of the hotel and collecting fellow travelers, as well as travelling between cities. And during the day, when the sun cuts the streets and faces with sharp shadows, the tourists cruise in organized mobs by the monuments and squares, literally flying in for a moment into the museums and hanging around for long near the bus, waiting for belated comrades lagging behind in a jewellery shop. To photograph an interesting monument or scene in this mode can only be a miracle.
A little better in this regard, are the so-called “basic” tours, when the fare, visa and hotel, are paid and the remaining trips are paid for on the ground. On such trips a morning shooting can be organized as well as a run around the city, “adjusting” and choosing the place where it is worthwhile to stick longer with a camera, waiting for a good moment, or where you can call on at night. But he best of all is to use such tours as a way of become more intelligent.
The point is that the really valuable art photography can be done only by investing the idea, by exposing its image in objects and people, presenting them exactly as you want, with the necessary technical means. And it requires from the photographer not only a great deal of preparatory work, but also good knowledge of the city and the place of shooting, as well as its geography. Therefore, for the first time a photographer is to go to the town just to get acquainted with it. Walk around the streets and main square, visit the tours, consider what of interest might give the history of this place, which events are characteristic just for it, where and how the light falls on local attractions, what time the streets are busy and when deserted, and where the local residents are gathering, and whether they can be photographed or better not.
And only then go for images, with a large amount of free time that you can safely spend in the shooting of the desired frame, having waited for all the main characters and removing everything superfluous from the shot. In fact, sometimes, to achieve the correct lighting, you need to wait not a day, but longer to include in the frame people in the proper sequence – stand by an arch an hour or two. Shoot a long parade or a carrying-out of a saint from the very beginning to the end, to picture the entire history of the event.
To go for a couple of hours to an art gallery when your friends and relatives are breathing you in the back, already craving for a drink of beer “out in that bar” is physically impossible. Not to mention that a rare partner will agree to wake up at 5 am for a morning shooting and few husbands and wives will regard with understanding the need to jump out at night for a couple of hours, to shoot bridges and deserted streets.
The best thing is, to go on a journey of shooting in a company of like-minded photographers, or on your own, or with a very understanding partner or friend. Organize beforehand, what places you would like to visit and how long it may be necessary to shoot a particular idea or object. Also leave time for morning and evening shooting, when the light would not be too harsh. Have the opportunity to sit in a cafe or on the square a couple of hours, waiting for interesting scenes or stand on a tower, waiting until the ray of sun will light the angel’s face.
If it is a long way to travel from one unfamiliar city to another, it is better to stay in each place for several days. For example, to come to a town during the day, settle and go to explore. Then to use the early morning hours to take pictures of monuments and streets without people, the day – to inspect and shoot the interior furnishing of churches and mansions, and the evening and night – to shoot scenes with passers-by and atmospheric shootings. And the next day – repeat the cycle from the beginning or go further. If you do this your photo-journey will not result in a failure, and the images will be varied and interesting.