Thursday, March 8, 2012

Individualize travel photos to highlight experiences, not monuments

By Jen Jepsen, Guest Travel Columnist

Whether a blessing or a curse, photography has become an integral part of travel.

With the dropping prices of DSLR cameras even Nikons and Cannons are affordable to the masses, making them more prominent in tourist hotspots across the globe.

With so many passing through the same locations, creating unique photographs comes with its own set of challenges.

Anyone can take pictures of monuments and distinctive places, and thousands do daily—just check Google images.

To make your photographs stand out, think outside the box and find new ways of looking at old monuments.

Try taking a picture from the ground, at different times of day, in relation to other objects or at different focal lengths.

Everyone’s seen a picture of the Eiffel tower.

But have they seen it lit up during the nightly show, reflected in the side mirror of a taxi cab or zoomed in to just a detail of the metal work?

Distinctive photos can also come from unique experiences.

Photographing less well-known places in a city generates much more interest than the obvious landmarks.

Let your photographs tell a story—the story of the city or of your trip.

People and animals add instant interest to a picture, especially if it is candid or the subject is in its natural environment.

Challenge yourself to find stories worth telling by meeting locals or having your own adventures.

Having a small travel buddy is another means of creating unique travel photos.

Mine, a small misshapen rabbit called Bunny, has traveled to twelve countries, three continents, and six states with me, posing for famous places and memories along the way. I found him hiding in my closet, a lost remnant of childhood, and he’s been a constant companion in my travels ever since.

Using him as my subject matter adds an element of surprise to more standard pictures of monuments while offering a truly unique theme in photographs that trace the places I’ve been.

Travel buddies should be small and sturdy enough to fit easily in a backpack. Try finding something that’s meaningful to you, funky or an inside joke—the more unusual, the more your photos will stand out.

Experiment with different angles, zoom lengths and subject matter to make your photos stand out.

With a bit of practice and patience, interesting travel photography worth sharing can become second nature, leaving you more time to experience a new place rather than looking at it through a view finder.

Jen Jepsen is a senior English major at Pacific Lutheran University officially diagnosed with a bad case of wanderlust. Aside from travel and photography, her pastimes include dancing, hiking, Bananagrams and being vegetarian.