Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Few Insights on Travel (and) Photography

(I initially asked a friend of mine to guest post on this blog regarding her insights on travel and photography. I am glad she said yes! The post below is by Angelica Cruz, fellow lover of travel and photography. She is one of the few photographers I personally know who likes to keep her photos beautifully real and raw. Follow her and her adventures at

A Few Insights on Travel (and) Photography
by Angelica Cruz

Discovering my love for travel has introduced me to the wonderful world of photography. Being surrounded by wonderful places and people has unearthed in me the need to capture them in photos, either to share them to encourage other people to travel or just to have something to remember my travels by.

Three years of consistent traveling has taught me a few important things about travel photography and photography in general.

Let me just say beforehand that you will not find here tips on travel photography. Rather you will find here my insights on travel photography and the few important things I keep in mind when I travel and take photos. I'd like to think that I am a traveler first before a photographer.

1. Having a high-level or complex camera doesn't necessarily translate to producing great travel photos.

I bought my DSLR back in 2008. I didn't have enough money for a more complex camera, so I just bought the most basic of all which is the Nikon D40. Three years and counting, I still haven't had the urge to buy a higher level of camera.

For one, I've never been really the technical type of travel photographer. I know the basics of shutter speed, aperture, and ISO. But I'm not really the type who has the standard combinations of the three in mind when taking photos. I just use the manual setting and experiment on it until I find the best photo.

Second, I've always believed that great photos are made of good subjects more than the technical aspects of it. That said, producing great travel photos rely mostly on the eye of the photographer.

2. Travel photography is a function of skill and luck.

It's mostly working around things and factors that are out of your control. Mother Nature can sometimes work against you.

When we did the Mt. Pulag trek early this year, it rained for the most part of our trip. It was foggy and with almost zero visibility. We weren't lucky enough to be given the chance to see the famous "sea of clouds" up in the summit. What dampened our mood more is the fact that the other three weekends during that month was sunny and clear.

Despite the fact that you were very much prepared and you had all the travel photography gear and accessories with you, you will never always get you want.

3. Sometimes Mother Nature can be very generous.

"I have witnessed incredible moments, where the light, the mountains, the oceans and the wind all meet together so I can take their picture. It has become my obsession to experience the world and a passion to capture and share it." Andre Dupuis, Departures.

I call it the "everything in place" moment. The right moment when everything seems to be in harmony and is calling out to you to capture it. And I credit most of these moments to luck.

good morning, caramoan
Good Morning, Caramoan.
Caramoan, Camarines Sur

Starfish Island
Laid-back Sunday
Puerto Princesa, Palawan

One of my favorite techniques is taking travel photos where the sun is hidden behind a rock, a tree, a cloud, or any structure. This technique minimizes overexposure and spreads the light from the sun, and creates a dramatic effect.

malcapuya coron sunset
Coron Sunset
Malcapuya Island, Coron

majestic tall tree in Ta Prohm
The Tree of Life
Ta Prohm, Cambodia

4. Travel photography is at its best when you have balance.

Do you sometimes feel frustrated when you can't seem to produce good travel photos? This happens to me sometimes because I focus too much on looking for good subjects.

What I normally do during these circumstances is to relax and familiarize myself first with my surroundings and just enjoy travel. Eventually I just find myself clicking away and producing good travel photos. This way you get to enjoy travel and produce good photos at the same time.

Bulog Island
Blue Paradise
Bulog Island, Coron

5. Your travel photos should capture the soul of the place you're in.

Aside from the beautiful scenery or landscape, you can also create great travel photos of the people and how they are in harmony with their surroundings. You have to immerse yourself in what's present and what's happening without altering any of it. You have to be focused and just wait for the right moment and capture it.

Basilica de Sto. Nino
A typical Filipino Sunday. People going to church, kids buying balloons.
Basilica de. Sto Nino, Cebu City

Siesta is a Spanish-Filipino word for a short nap taken in the early afternoon.
Magellan's Cross, Cebu

6. Children and random people are really good subjects for travel photos.

We encounter various types of people in our travels. Be they a by-stander, a beggar, or a child. They somehow touch you in a way. Children are my favorite subjects. They willingly pose and smile for your camera.

bantayan kid
Bantayan Kid
Bantayan Island, Cebu

talented man in Fort San Pedro
Blind Man
Fort San Pedro, Cebu City

angkor wat
Monks in Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Old and New

7. Awareness is key.

You will never be fully prepared for beautiful moments to capture in your travel photos. So a little bit of keen awareness can be very helpful. I guess you just know it when you see it. You just know that it's a beautiful moment and you must take advantage of that moment.

hot air balloon toys
Toy Balloons
14th Philippine Hot Air Balloon Fiesta

father and son
Father and Son
14th Philippine Hot Air Balloon Fiesta

sky diving
Sky Diving
14th Philippine Hot Air Balloon Fiesta

"One of the most important rules of photography is to always keep in mind that you're an amateur. Keep the innocence when you're taking photos."

This was shared to me by Ben Razon, a renowned photojournalist in the Philippines. As with any craft, hobby, or sport, there should always be room for improvement and learning. It is a continuous process.

These are some of the few important things I always try to keep in mind when I travel and take photos.

Most importantly, just go with the flow. Travel and photography should not be rigid. Just enjoy the place you're in and the people around you. It may be sunny or rainy. You may arrive late for the perfect sunset. Whatever happens, just enjoy the moment.

Photos capture beautiful moments, but beautiful moments, more than anything, should be experienced.

Hi there, traveler! Did you like this post? Got any comments? Do leave me a message below. A RETWEET or a LIKE would be very much appreciated, too. Sharing buttons can be found at the beginning of this post and below.
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