Travel Photography Tips: Photographing Strangers
From the new book, National Geographic Complete Photography, an extensive photo reference guide packed with tips, how-tos, galleries, and stories from Nat Geo’s top photographers including Annie Griffiths, Steve McCurry, Frans Lanting, and Jodi Cobb. Get your copy now.
While travel is about destinations, as often as not our travel photographs feature people as subjects. Their manner, dress, and activities reveal as much about a place as its architecture and topography.
Start with people you naturally encounter on your travels– your cabdriver, a shopkeeper, a hotel clerk. People are proud of their work, and it’s often easier to photograph them in that context than it is in a private moment. When you’re ready to approach a total stranger, remember there’s a reason that person caught your eye. Express your curiosity, and you’ll find most people willing to talk. Before long, you can get around to asking if you can shoot some pictures. Approached in the right way, few people will refuse, and many will be delighted.
Tip: Befriend people first, and then take the picture. That makes the encounter into a rich and rewarding experience.
Tip: People in heavily visited areas may ask for money to be photographed. Use your own judgment. Those who do so may well be anything but authentic.
Tip: In cultures where photography is uncommon, show your subjects the picture on the camera’s display screen. It lets them know what you’re up to.
- Nat Geo Expeditions
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