The One Big Creative Travel Photo Idea

Sand trails near Roebuck bay, Broome, Western Australia
Sand trails near Roebuck bay, Broome, Western Australia

The One Big Creative Travel Photo Idea

In this article I’ll be giving you some tips on the best way to give your travel photography some punch.
Let me introduce you to the one big creative travel photo idea that many journalist photographers use. And you can use it for your travel photos too.
So, what is this creative travel photo idea – GETTING IN CLOSE

What does getting in close mean?

Depending on your lens and camera, getting in close may be different for different equipment.
But it can be anything from zooming in on a landscape to a good strong portrait to a macro picture of a flower.

What equipment?

It doesn’t matter what equipment you have.
To take macro images i.e. subjects that are 60 – 70cm away, it’s best you have a macro lens.
But more on that below.
As I stated in previous posts and in the e-book, that’s available when you subscribe in the form at the bottom, you have to do the best you can with whatever you have.

Types of “getting in close” images

Landscape

Getting in close on a landscape photo seems almost contradictory. After all it’s the big wide-open spaces that you are after.
But you can get some great shots by getting in close either with a zoom lens or by, if practical, zooming in with your lens.
Let’s say you are taking some pictures of a mountainous landscape. Sometimes getting in close will give you different perspective.

Hills near Wanaka in New Zealands South Island
Hills near Wanaka in New Zealands South Island. Click on the above image to view a larger version and for other options

In the above shot I zoomed in to compress the hills. Now they look closer to each other than they would appear if I had taken them with a wide-angle lens.
Other ideas would be to zoom into a particular subject, a tree, a farmhouse or even a Glacier.
If you are using a zoom lens, then usually you will need to zoom right in depending on your position.

People

There’s also a saying in photography, ‘fill the frame’.
Often when we take people shots they can be too far out.
I know in travel photography the idea is to get people in the picture, as well as a sense of where they and you are.
But you can go too far and try to get everything in.
By filling the frame with people, you cut unnecessary distractions that can leap out to the viewer and spoil that whole photo.
Often the subjects e.g. people, usually look as if they are from the destination you are in, so you don’t need to have think too much about a sense of place.
Taking photos of fellow travellers or family can vary in quality. If you think it’s a good picture then does it matter that your photo doesn’t reflect the place you are visiting? I think not.

Portraits

Undoubtably portraits lend themselves to getting in close.
We’ve all seen some of those great photos taken by Nat Geo journalists and other travel photographers.
If you have permission from the subject, then get in as close as you dare.
Human faces are some of the most interesting subject matter in travel photography.
Sometimes it is best to experiment by taking different angles even when you are in close.

Street

Street photography is very much its own genre these days.
When travelling, street photography is an essential skill to develop to get some great shots.
One way is to get in close.
If you are in a famous city like New York or Paris, there are so many opportunities to fill the frame. People are the most obvious, which I mentioned earlier. But by also getting in close to activities like festivals or street entertainment, you can create some great angles that can hold the viewers interest.

Markets

I love taking photos in markets. And zooming in and filling the frame can capture the feel of a market.
Whether it be the produce, signs, or people, getting in close is a great way of producing some interesting and varied photos. Some examples are below

Pumpkin. Portland farmers market, Portland, Oregon, USA
Pumpkin. Portland farmers market, Portland, Oregon, USA. Click on the above image to view a larger version and for other options
Pork Pies at one of London's famous markets Borough Markets that is devoted entirely to food.
Pork Pies at one of London’s famous markets Borough Markets that is devoted entirely to food. Click on the above image to view a larger version and for other options

Buildings

How many times do you see a photographer try to capture the outside of a beautiful building with little or no success.
Sometimes you have to let go of trying to get that great shot of a building and leave it as a record shot.
Concentrate on the small stuff. A sculpture inset into a wall, a sign, an intricate stained-glass window or a sculpted angle on a building.
What about shooting the reflection on the building in the one opposite.
There are plenty of opportunities for getting in close with buildings of all shapes and sizes

Food and Drink

I mentioned in Different types of Travel Photography that you can really go to town on food. Individual food items, a mouth-watering artistic dish or getting a close-in angle of a wine bottle label are some examples that come to mind.

Technique

So, is there a technique for getting in close? Well sometimes is the answer.
It does depend on your equipment, position and the position of the subject.
If you don’t have a zoom, then it means you must move closer to the subject.
If you do have a zoom, then how far you have to extend your telephoto lens will again depend on its capability and your position relative to the subject.
But a good technique can be to get in low or get above the subject. Subjects can look a lot different from low or high angles.
Shooting at your height in close doesn’t guarantee you a point of difference. Another technique can be to take a close in shot, side on. A plate of food for instance looks different close up and side on.

Sand trails near Roebuck bay, Broome, Western Australia
Sand trails near Roebuck bay, Broome, Western Australia. Click on the above image to view a larger version and for other options

Summary

So, as you can see the one big creative travel photo idea is taking some great shots by getting in close and filling the frame.
There are several different types of subject matter that can lend themselves to close in shooting. Landscapes, People, Portraits, Markets, Buildings and Food and Drink are ones that come to mind. Try to get different angles as well.
Getting in low or getting above can produce some satisfying and interesting photos.

Thanks for reading and getting down this far.

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