Bridging the gap between Chicago and travel photography
I’m primarily an architecture photographer but the tips I suggest can be applied to any genre, from street, food, fashion or landscape photography — whatever it is you’re most drawn to.
First, the prep work involved when planning an extensive photo trip is key. Given architecture is my primary subject the perfect starting point in my research always involves finding my destination’s most unique and meaningful buildings.
From the obvious…
…to the less obvious.
Hôtel de Soubise
Similar to my research when photographing a Chicago building, I learn as much as I can about the buildings that most interest me. Who the architect was and what inspired the design. I explore how others have approached that subject, see what perspectives are common and if there are any unique vantage points. This allows me to recognize what is a more cliché shot because, guaranteed, we all initially see what’s been done a million times already. Nothing wrong with that, but consider those shots a warm-up to uncovering something more original.
This is also beneficial because, generally, there isn’t as much time to spend on each subject as there is at home. There are times I can spend 2-3 hours on one building. This is typically not possible when traveling, there’s just too much to fit in, especially if the travel destination is a large city. This research helps to visualize what you may be able to accomplish once at the destination.
Another thing I love to do when traveling is to get myself a bit lost. Spend an afternoon aimlessly wandering around, away from the typical tourist spots you know you’ll be photographing. Or take the long, off-the-beaten path, route from one iconic destination to another. By doing this you’ll likely come across something that feels more authentic to that location and can offer a fresh perspective.
Plus, you might come across something you didn’t know existed, but you wish you had known about.
Ministry of Culture and Communication
Also, shoot a little more broadly than you might typically do at home. For example, I most often create abstracted versions of the buildings I photograph and aim to do this even when traveling. But, I also photograph things and in ways that are less comfortable and typical for me. I incorporate street photography and wider landscape/cityscape types of shots, something that shows the environment a bit more. Those images may never be part of my portfolio but they’re part of my memory of the destination.Plus, you might come across something you didn’t know existed, but you wish you had known about.