Top tips for travel portraiture

Local people are what I love to take pictures of most when I travel, it’s the character you can see from just their face, the connection you can make. While both the subject and the photographer come from entirely different backgrounds and don’t speak the same language, it is the eyes that holds the connection. An entirely different world to San Diego.

  • Firstly and most importantly smile, look approachable, welcoming and non threatening, you can often tell by their reception to your greeting whether they are happy to have their picture taken.

  • Bring a guide, or befriend a local to join you on your day shooting, they can translate for you importantly ask if they are happy for you to take their photo and whether it’s appropriate. It will be far more enjoyable and relaxing for their subject knowing they can ask questions about you too.

  • Be at the same level as your subject, if they are sitting, sit too, if they are standing, stand.  If they are a child or much shorter, crouch. This will help the perspective of your portrait and enable the viewer to fell as though they are there and looking straight at the person.

  • Show them the pictures, they will be curious to see them and if you’re really remote they may not have seen what they look like on camera before. It’s where a digital camera gives an even greater connection.

  • Look at the lighting, it can be tricky if its of someone in their natural environment but move around and make the light work. If it’s very bright I personally prefer back lit photography, or if you can, shoot in the shade.

The countryside was my favourite part of my recent trip to Rajasthan - a huge thank you to Scott Dunn for sending me there! 

It was how I could communicate with the shy local Indian women with only a smile, their curiosity encouraged them to open or remove their veil and they were thrilled to have me take their picture.  In return they quickly became talkative and the questions they asked my guide about my lifestyle were captivating.  

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