Travel Photography

Documenting Locations and Folks: What You Have to Know

Whenever you journey how do you actually seize the essence of the locations you go to? How nicely do your journey images signify your expertise?
I wish to share with you some nicely practiced documentary images ideas. These will make it easier to seize extra attention-grabbing photos as you journey.


15. Do Some Analysis

Two Asian men in a market trading
Even earlier than you journey, or as you might be on the highway, analysis your vacation spot. The extra you already know about a spot, the better it is going to be to {photograph} it.
The web, magazines, and guidebooks are all nice sources. Discovering a great weblog in regards to the place you’re visiting will permit your documentary images to profit from another person’s expertise.
Analysis will make it easier to plan your time higher and get to the most effective places to take your documentary images. It can additionally make it easier to to prioritize.

14. Intention to Inform Your Story

Documentary photography of a woman standing behind a basket of fruit at a busy market in Chiang Mai, Thailand
Good documentary images shouldn’t be solely about recording what you see. You wish to inform your story, in order that your pictures are participating.
Consider your self as being on task for a journey or documentary images journal. Ask your self, “what photos does my editor wish to see after I return?” Take into consideration this as you journey, as you might be out and about together with your digital camera. You’ll construct up a stimulating collection of documentary images which can inform your story.
An editor doubtless needs to see selection in documentary images. Not simply the themes you sometimes want to {photograph}. Step exterior your consolation zone typically and diversify. {Photograph} folks, issues, and places that can inform your story with extra curiosity, depth, and element.

Black and white documentary photography of men on motorbikes riding through a busy market in Chiang Mai, Thailand
Take into consideration easy methods to {photograph} folks at every of the locations you go to

Contemplate constructing collection of illustrative pictures for every attention-grabbing place you go to. They are going to match collectively like chapters in your journey documentary images ebook.
For this text, I selected documentary images I made at Muang Mai and Warorot Markets in Chiang Mai, Thailand. We are sometimes there for our documentary images workshops. As you undergo the article, be aware of the story and themes proven by the photographs.

13. Make Documentary Pictures Private

A market porter holding a picture of himself in Chiang Mai, Thailand, documentary photography
A market porter holding an image of himself I had made on a earlier journey to the market.

Make your documentary images story extra attention-grabbing by protecting it private. Add your personal character and expertise to catch folks’s curiosity.
In case your pictures are all very a lot for the file sort of photos, they won’t be so attention-grabbing. {Photograph} attention-grabbing issues that occur to you alongside the way in which. In case you meet some folks from your house nation or state, take their image. In case you discover one thing you like in a market and purchase it, {photograph} the stall holder.
Together with pictures like these in your journey story will hold it actual for you.

12. Embrace Some Selfies

The photographer taking a selfie through a car mirror. Documentary photography.
However not too many. My opinion right here could also be strongly influenced by my age, (I’m 50 one thing, not 20 one thing). It’s good to place your self in context together with your environment as you journey. Both by taking journey selfies or having another person take your photograph.
In case you are by yourself, ask one other vacationer or an area individual to take your photograph typically. Set your digital camera so it’s straightforward for them and provides them somewhat instruction on what you need included. Don’t assume that in case you are standing subsequent to one thing they may naturally embody it within the image.

11. {Photograph} the Folks You Are Travelling With

A girl holding a camera in Chiang Mai, Thailand, documentary photography
It’s at all times a good suggestion to incorporate the folks you might be travelling with in a few of your images.

Your family and friends are a part of your journey expertise. Embrace them in your pictures. You would possibly like to select a couple of themes or concepts to make the identical model portraits within the varied locations you go to. Doing this may result in an entire collection of enjoyable pictures.
Take into consideration what you possibly can ask them to do to make your pictures extra attention-grabbing. Don’t {photograph} them in typical vacationer model. Standing in entrance of landmarks or pointing at issues makes fairly boring pictures.

  • Have them stand a sure approach every time;
  • Have them maintain one thing;
  • {Photograph} them as they’re taking an image;
  • Discover a low angle so you’re looking up at them;
  • Have them maintain their hand over their eyes as if they’re wanting intently at one thing.

I’m positive it is possible for you to to give you a theme or concept that matches the model you and your journey companions can have enjoyable with.

10. What’s Engaging?

saamlor driver in a market in Chiang Mai, Thailand
Documentary images is extra pleasant if you end up selecting to {photograph} topics you want.

At every new location you go to, search for what attracts you. What would you prefer to {photograph} right here? Take into consideration why.
Perhaps you get pleasure from photographing sure issues – cats, canine, flowers, previous automobiles, and so forth., once you journey. Incorporate them into your documentary images story. Search for them, search them out. You’ll most probably make your finest pictures if you happen to get pleasure from what you might be photographing.
I really like photographing cycles. Across the markets in Chiang Mai there are nonetheless loads of saamlors. These are the standard tricycle taxis. If I have been to {photograph} the cycle by itself, I’d not really be telling the entire story in my pictures.
Together with the lads who work so arduous to supply their service with these heavy bikes is essential. It additionally provides depth and character to my photograph story.

9. How Do You Really feel?

Lady in a market selling meat
Intention as an instance not solely what you might be seeing, however how you’re feeling about it.
I photographed this younger butcher restocking her trays. She was clearly having enjoyable with a few of her workmates. I loved watching them for a short time. Then I caught her eye, smiled, gestured to my digital camera and acquired her permission to {photograph} her.
Had she frowned at me or shaken her head, I’d not have bothered to {photograph} her. I needed to seize the jovial environment. It contrasts considerably along with her exercise, so together with the meat within the foreground was essential.
Don’t solely {photograph} joyful websites and scenes. At occasions you’ll encounter folks and have experiences that upset you. {Photograph} these too. They’re a part of your journey expertise and documentary images. At all times be thoughtful and empathetic, significantly photographing folks.

8. {Photograph} Strangers

Black and white documentary photography of a portrait at a market in Chiang Mai, Thailand
Documentary images portrait of a porter at Muang Mai Market, Chiang Mai, Thailand.

I do know many individuals discover this very tough. After I first began out as a photographer I used to be frightened of photographing folks, whether or not I knew them or not.
Don’t return out of your journey with few or no pictures of the folks you met alongside the way in which. In case you do, your photograph story might be missing.
Take the simple approach. Search for individuals who would possibly prefer to be photographed. Or people who find themselves not prone to refuse. The concierge at your resort. The store keeper who you’ve simply bought one thing from.
Smile and look folks within the eye. You’ll start to recognise the kind of one that won’t thoughts being photographed. Don’t assume that you’ll be inflicting these folks any discomfort or inconvenience. They are going to benefit from the expertise and you’ll have brightened up their day.

Suggestions For Photographing Folks:

  • Smile at them.
  • Greet them of their language. It’s at all times good to study this quick phrase or phrase the place ever you journey.
  • Speak with them – even when they don’t perceive.
  • Be relaxed.
  • Don’t be in a rush.
  • Focus your consideration on them, not in your digital camera settings.
  • Smile at them!

Preserve a watch out for individuals who draw back. In the event that they don’t smile again or offer you even a slight nod of their head, they’re uncomfortable. In my expertise, these folks hardly ever make nice portrait topics.
Whenever you do {photograph} somebody, at all times attempt to present them their image. Be able to take some extra as typically their response might be value one other photograph.

A Particular Story

Documentary photography portrait of a sticky rice vendor at Muang Mai Market, Chiang Mai, Thailand
Documentary images portrait of a sticky rice vendor at Muang Mai Market, Chiang Mai, Thailand.

I had walked previous this man a couple of occasions down on the markets and needed to {photograph} him. He had an attention-grabbing face. However he appeared somewhat withdrawn and reserved. So every time I handed, I’d simply smile and greet him. Then, after doing this for a couple of weeks I requested if I may make a portrait of him. And he stated sure.
He smiled together with his chin up. He put his arms out on the sides of his large sticky rice bowl and his shoulders again. I used to be delighted.
I noticed him a couple of extra occasions, however then for a protracted whereas he was not there. A woman was operating the small stall. At some point I used to be chatting along with her. I’d additionally made her portrait.
I requested in regards to the man and her face dropped and her eyes saddened.
Then she leaned towards me and virtually whispering, requested me if I had an image of him. We had the photograph enlarged and framed. It’s now hanging above her mattress. He was her husband who had handed away all of the sudden not lengthy after I’d made his portrait.
Don’t be shy. Don’t assume you might be at all times intruding or interrupting. You by no means understand how a lot you is likely to be blessing somebody by taking their portrait.
You’ll most probably not have the ability to give somebody a print. Most individuals do have an e mail handle or social media hyperlink. Ask them to write down it down for you and ship a duplicate of their photograph.

7. Preserve It Native

Documentary photography portrait of a man at Muang Mai Market, Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Discovering the true locals and photographing them will improve your documentary images collection.

Search for individuals who actually belong to the place. Who’re a part of the furnishings. These folks can typically be actual characters.
{Photograph} folks doing what they do. Environmental portraits are about one of the simplest ways as an instance ‘who’ and ‘the place’ and ‘what’ in your story.
Within the markets that is ceaselessly folks promoting. Transactions happening. Meals being ready and weighed. Items being transported. Even somebody simply taking a relaxation.
Make the individual the principle focus of your composition, however embody location and motion. Displaying them in context with their environment definitely helps construct your story. Capturing them performing some exercise enhances and develops your story deeper.

6. What’s Distinctive?

Documentary photography portrait of a man pulling steel carts at Muang Mai Market, Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Listen if you end up photographing locations to see what is exclusive or particular about them.

Ask your self this. What makes this location particular? Then discover a inventive option to {photograph} it.
The tricycle taxis are very a lot a part of the native markets in Chiang Mai. For the current time not less than. They are going to fade away little doubt as many of the riders are older males. All of the extra purpose to {photograph} them.
The spherical metal push carts are additionally very a lot a part of the market. These are attention-grabbing to {photograph} whether or not they’re overflowing with produce or empty. With nothing in them their structural traces are extra pronounced. Additionally they make great shadows on the bottom.

5. Decide A Theme and Comply with It

Documentary photography of a butcher in a Thai market pointing to chicken in the foreground
Choosing a selected theme to your journey images could make it simpler to decide on what to {photograph}.

You would possibly end up overwhelmed and never know what to {photograph}. Particularly when you’ve got restricted time at a location.
Limiting what you {photograph} can at occasions make it easier to produce extra attention-grabbing photos. Concentrating on capturing pictures round a selected concept or theme will make it easier to see and expertise locations in numerous methods.
You may need a favorite coloration to {photograph}. You is likely to be like me and search for bikes wherever you go.

 Documentary photography of a man in front of a yellow vehicle
Right here’s a theme of yellow journey images from the markets.

Some concepts to make a documentary images theme from:

  • Palms
  • Hats
  • Stripes
  • Smiles
  • Enjoyable
  • Folks in a rush
  • A single coloration
  • Two sturdy colours
  • Black and white

Actually, this record is limitless. As in tip #5, {photograph} what you discover enticing. What’s it that you just like and infrequently catches your eye?

Yellow sunflowers for sale at the market. Documentary photography.
Yellow sunflowers on the market on the market.

Don’t restrict your documentary images theme concepts to topics of issues. Take into consideration ideas and concepts as nicely. Take a look at what is going on round you. Discover what’s totally different from the place you reside and in your personal tradition. Chances are you’ll decide a theme to {photograph} which baffles the locals. What’s commonplace to them could also be beautiful to you.

4. Inform Me The place You Are

Documentary photography of four Thai women, waiting for a bus, a large advertising billboard behind them
Doc what you see and embody some trace of the place you might be.

Embrace features of the situation in your compositions which inform the place you might be.
Textual content is usually one of the simplest ways to do that. Road indicators, promoting boards, folks’s tee-shirts. Something with writing on it’s going to assist inform the viewer the place you took your photograph.
Usually now in Asian international locations English textual content is seen on ads. This may additionally add curiosity because the native textual content could not at all times be instantly noticeable. I really like the irony on this picture too. The employees ready for his or her bus are most likely not the goal demographic of the Snail White advertisers.
Flags are additionally one other lifeless giveaway as to your location. The nation not less than. Some cities even have their very own flag or coat of arms.
Documentary travel photography telling the story of your location by including a flag.
The saamlor rider passing the Thai flag is clearly Thailand and most probably Chiang Mai. There are a couple of different cities nonetheless with the tricycle taxis.
Utilizing these visible hints at places in your journey images helps interact the folks taking a look at your pictures. This stuff create curiosity and may elevate questions.
What’s that textual content? What flag is that? The place was this photograph taken?

3. Observe Your Approach

Documentary photography portrait of a saamlor rider and a monk in a Market in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Utilizing digital camera strategies to make an attention-grabbing topic right into a extra attention-grabbing journey {photograph}

When you have time, profit from it. Make use of your favorite digital camera strategies and study some new ones.
In case you just like the look of a blurred background, work with this. Search for conditions the place it is going to be applicable to create a photograph utilizing a wider aperture. Generally having much less sharp element creates a extra attention-grabbing journey {photograph}.
This photograph of the saamlor rider and the monk for instance. I needed the main target to be on the rider as this can be a theme I’m following. You’ll be able to nonetheless simply recognise there’s a monk within the chair and he isn’t distracting from my topic.
Arrange your digital camera someplace steady and use a sluggish shutter velocity to seize some movement blur in a couple of pictures. Search for low angles, framing, main traces or another explicit approach you prefer to {photograph}.

Professional Tip

Close up of a hand holding a bunch of green handmade craft flowers, blurry background. Documentary photography.
Don’t overlook to get in shut typically and {photograph} the small print

Keep in mind to incorporate extensive, medium and shut up pictures from every location. Together with this selection in your photos will make your total story extra dynamic.

2. Don’t Be A Vacationer Snap Shooter

Documentary photography portrait of two men in straw hats and sunglasses in a Market in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Think twice about easy methods to {photograph} folks and locations slightly than simply taking snap photographs.

Stand again and watch. Don’t rush into a brand new state of affairs and blaze away together with your digital camera taking snap photographs of all the pieces that takes your fancy.
Most new locations you go could have some iconic belongings you actually should embody in your story. However I typically inform folks, an attention-grabbing topic alone doesn’t at all times make an attention-grabbing photograph.
Don’t rely solely in your topic but additionally:

  • make a powerful composition;
  • make certain your publicity is sweet;
  • look forward to the most effective time to make your photograph;
  • embody attention-grabbing color and tone.

Managing to seize every of those in a single {photograph} is hard. Intention for one or two not less than if you end up photographing a exceptional topic.
Individuals who come to Thailand like to {photograph} monks, temples, and tuk-tuks. I can’t inform the variety of unimaginative images I’ve seen of those. Don’t be a vacationer snap shooter.
Take into consideration how finest you may make an attention-grabbing documentary {photograph} with out relying in your unique topic alone.

1. Discover Some Native Information

Documentary photography portrait of a photography workshop in a Market in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Be taught nice journey images ideas by becoming a member of a images workshop or tour.

Assembly somebody who is aware of the situation and customs provides you with higher photos. Even higher if it’s a photographer.
Somebody with native data who is straightforward to speak with can assist immensely. They are going to have the ability to converse with native folks in your behalf. They need to know the most effective folks and locations to {photograph}.
You too can save a whole lot of time. An area images information will know the most effective places to take you. This may prevent having to hunt for them your self. They are going to know the place and when the sunshine is finest as a result of they’ve expertise. After you have discovered this stuff, and when you’ve got time, it is possible for you to to return to the identical locations once more.
In some locations you would possibly discover a photograph information who will present you places. Different occasions you would possibly discover a photograph tour. These will typically embody somewhat extra photographic steerage. Some locations it is possible for you to to take a images workshop. This may embody nice places, steerage and images instructing.

Take pleasure in Your Story

Documentary photography portrait of a porter in a Market in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Be within the second once you make journey images and revel in your self.

Reside within the second. Whether or not you might be touring someplace for the primary time, or you might be revisiting your favorite trip spot. Take pleasure in your self and revel in photographing your expertise.
Documentary images doesn’t have to incorporate all the pieces. Don’t bust your intestine making an attempt to cram all the pieces in. In case you can’t {photograph} all the pieces, don’t fear. Take your time. It’s higher to have fewer nice pictures than an entire lot of snap photographs.
As you might be creating your journal image unfold, bear in mind this. You haven’t any deadlines or editor to shout at you if you happen to ‘get it incorrect’.
You received’t get it incorrect, as a result of when you’re on vacation together with your digital camera, you’re the boss.