From shots you forgot to take to less-than-great lighting and dealing with anything that pops up in the limited time spent at a destination, even the most experienced photographers learn something new every time they travel. Over time, you learn tricks to increase your chances of getting a shot that will be published.
One of my biggest frustrations is hundreds of tourists milling around in front of me, which is silly because I’m a tourist too! I can’t help it. Arriving at a destination, within five minutes I wish I had a magic button that would freeze everyone in their tracks so I could get a great photo.
As this is unrealistic and will never happen, I’ve had to learn how to troubleshoot on the fly. How to work with what’s around and somehow use it to enhance the image or just find another way to get a saleable shot in the time I’m there.
There are some things you can do to help your chances of coming up with a photo an editor will want. Here are five things that have worked for me.
1. Shoot from a distance
Go back half a block or across the street. This allows you to crop the image later and cut out undesirable things like shadows, power lines, tourists, or cars that whizz by just as you depress the shutter.
2. Use a lens hood
This bit of kit is a godsend. It will give your camera lens some protection from harsh lighting, sunspots, and flares—creating a more even light across your lens face.
The best thing is, you can pick one up cheap. Even top brands like Canon and Nikon are on Amazon from between $6.99 and $25. You can even pick up a whole lens filter kit along with your lens hood for under $40.
3. Look up
Seriously, this helps a lot. We get so distracted dodging other tourists, finding a good angle, or by what’s going on around us, most of the time we don’t look up to see if there are power lines.
There’s nothing worse than getting home to realize your shot is ruined by strands of black lines. I have learned this one the hard way. Of course, you can Photoshop them out later, but it’s time-consuming.
4. Get dirty (don’t wear white pants)
Yes, sometimes you have to get down on the ground or climb on or over something for a better angle. But it is worth it. This will cut down on unwanted things in your images like tourists, parked cars, or traffic. Plus, photos shooting up from a low angle can add life and a new dimension to your photos.
5. Use your voice
Just like we are taught in kindergarten. Use your words. Politely.
If you have the perfect shot lined up then someone walks in and stands right in front of you, politely say, “Hi, excuse me” and gently ask them to move aside. Preferably while smiling because chances are they didn’t realize you were there.
I have done this the world over and no one has ever realized I was there or been offended when politely asked to move. In fact, they normally apologize and stop others from doing the same, which is very sweet.
It can also be the difference between getting paid or walking away empty handed. So be brave and speak up. Everyone wants a photo, so to say thank you and smooth the waters I usually offer to take their picture in front of the attraction afterward. That way we all walk away happy.
These little tips will help you get the photos editors want and need for their articles while boosting your confidence as a photographer.
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