Take pictures not of what you see, but of your attitude to it

Take pictures not of what you see, but of your attitude to it

Travel photography for me is the most important hobby, even more: it is a love, an activity that unites and turns into one the two biggest hobbies.

It so happened that I became interested in the art of photography long before I discovered my inclination to travel, so I could no longer just take pictures of everything, being professionally deformed. I do not stop and do not embarrassed, even on small trips to take 7-8 pounds of equipment or 2-3 months to process material after the trip.

On the contrary, I take great pleasure in the fact that the result is not only a documentary and colorful representation of what I have seen, but without unnecessary words inspiring the viewer with the same feelings and emotions that I had when I took the picture, which is very expensive.

Take pictures not of what you see, but of your attitude to it

I am not a photographic purist and in processing I can easily rearrange the composition, change colors, remove and add objects, even turn a cloudy day into a sunny one, if it helps one goal – to convey an emotion. I am ready to share with you a few tips on how to create and communicate these photographic emotions.

Be prepared for what you see

It’s extremely helpful to get a really interesting shot a good study of what you have to deal with. This will help you not be confused when you get there, and save time. If it’s some kind of point visit, preparation will help you choose the right equipment. And most importantly, you will be able to think in advance, and perhaps come up with some creative compositions, plans, angles, and scenes.

The ideas and notes arising in the course of such preparation I record (write down/draw) in a moleskine (this is very handy). For example, when preparing for the hike to Machu Picchu, I calculated six months in advance at what time and from what side the sunrise would come out, which allowed me to take the most accurate point of view. This will not prevent you from enjoying and emotionally experiencing the moment, but on the contrary, it will allow you not to waste precious contemplation time (if the phenomenon is short) searching for a shooting point.

Take pictures not of what you see, but of your attitude to it

Be amazed

This advice, seemingly completely contradictory to the first, but actually complements it. The ability, quickly discarding all knowledge of the object, to switch consciousness and childishly surprised to look as if for the first time.

Even a tenth visit to the Norwegian fjords, can bring completely unexpected ideas. The whole point is the ability to switch instantly from being an “the all-knowing photographer” to being a “the child discovering the world”.

Do experiments

Why not shoot a series of “Machu Picchu through the eyes of an alpaca” in the same glorious Inca city, with llama ears sticking out in all the shots? Or the adventures of a lego-man in the mountains of Tibet?

Do not be afraid to experiment and realize seemingly absurd photo ideas! These are what turn a photo postcard into a work of authorship. A successful experiment can become a travel highlight, and later, perhaps, even an author’s highlight.

Take pictures not of what you see, but of your attitude to it

Notice the details

Every place and object (even if it’s just one of many like it, like a castle in Europe) reveals itself through its details. It is the details that give the viewer of your series of photographs a complete picture of what you are seeing.

Often just one small detail can change the mood of a shot in the right direction, and fully reveal the emotion in it. There’s no need to be afraid that it may look like you’re photographing everything indiscriminately. Follow the rule of thumb: it’s better to re-shoot too much than not enough.

Take pictures not of what you see, but of your attitude to it

Use your equipment wisely

I will not advise you to run out and buy professional photographic equipment right away. Choose a technique according to your level, but don’t forget to raise it with every shot you take, to discover and learn new techniques, techniques, and methods. Then you will have questions, and in the answers to them you will find the need for this or that technique.

My travel-tested photo set weighs about 7 kg, but I still carry it with me everywhere. I’d rather not take a warm sweatshirt with me than put out a lens. Because the likelihood of missing a chance to shoot a masterpiece due to laziness is the scariest thing for me.

The key piece of advice here: whatever technique you use, whether it’s a smartphone or a large format gimbal camera, learn absolutely all the features of your tool (often it’s enough just to read the manual) and use them all.

Take pictures not of what you see, but of your attitude to it

Take timelapses

Timelapse, an ancient but well-forgotten technique that has been gaining momentum lately, is the best way to capture an incredibly beautiful but time-stretched scene.

A timelapse is essentially a slow motion shot in which exposures are taken frame by frame at long intervals. To record slow processes, the interval between shooting individual frames can be several minutes. The resulting frames are combined into a video sequence.

Sometimes you want to convey the miracle of the transformation of one state into another, the changeability of a phenomenon or the dynamics of the flow of time, but a photo does not show a long event, and just video does it too roughly, and then the time-lapse technique shoots, surprisingly combining the static contemplation of a photo frame and the dynamics of video.

It’s a photo that comes to life, so a timelapse would look great in a photo series as well as a scene in a video at the end of a trip. Be sure to try it on your next trip, even smartphones can do it now.

Here’s the video that inspired me to create timelapses:

Process your photos

I once heard a thesis that I completely agreed with:

A modern photographer who doesn’t process a photo is like a photographer of the past who doesn’t develop his film.

I agree with that 100 percent. Any picture from any device can be improved, even if it is in automatic mode. I checked it by experiment: a simple correction of horizon and proper framing of all photos will completely transform the series, bring it to a new quality level and make it look like a professional one. I spend from 1 to 3 months on processing my photos and present only after the whole process is finished.

There is no need to strive for “frame integrity”, because no technique (due to its limited possibilities) can reproduce exactly what you see with your eyes. When you write a picture to the card, the camera already does its own processing according to the settings, so all accusations that by processing pictures you do “not as it was” contain a great deal of slyness.

Convey emotion through photography. If the viewer fully receives it, if the emotion captures him, he won’t care about the documentary fidelity of the frame, because he doesn’t know how it really was. If it was a cloudy day, but the colors you saw made you dizzy and took your breath away, turn up the colors! Add sunshine! Cut a new sky! Anything, but try to maximize what you felt rather than what you saw.

Select best photos

This is the hardest part. You have to learn how to choose from several thousand brought in 200-100-50 photos. The best ones. The most different ones. The most interesting.

Mercilessly cut out duplicates, spoiled and simply incomprehensible frames, failed experiments, no matter how you feel sorry for them. You pity them only because you have emotions associated with them in your mind, but the viewer has no such emotions, and an incomprehensible shot will not evoke them in the viewer in any way.

Take pictures not of what you see, but of your attitude to it

Print your photos

Choose the most beautiful photo from your latest travels and print it in A3 size and you’ll see: it will look brand new!

If a photo is full of mood and emotion, printing on a large format will enhance it, making it even more impressive. No monitor, however large or high quality, can give you the feeling of the printed photograph in your hands.

It’s a kind of magic. Perhaps because we are used to absorbing information digitally without literally touching it, something tangible, created with our own hands, is perceived so soulfully.

But don’t print small formats (they only spoil the picture with loss of detail). Print your photos on sheets of at least A4 (20×30), but better A3, and panoramas up to 90×30 cm. Even if those photos might end up in a tube on a shelf, the feeling of the first look at the prints is worth all your efforts, time and money. Worth the trip itself.

The surest way to keep your friends from yawning as they look at your photos is to show very few pictures (in my experience, no more than a hundred). Each successive photo should be very different from the previous one. All photos should be very different. No matter how beautiful the mountains are, but after the tenth photo the viewer will inevitably get bored.

All photos (with the exception of very unusual documentaries) should carry the mood and emotions, so that the story does not turn into a lesson in geography and ethnography. Colorfulness of the photo narrative of the trip is not based on quantity, but only on quality.


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