Travel Photography Class: An Amateur’s Review

If you saw me walking down Montrose the other day with a camera hung around my neck that was no mistake. I participated in my first ever photography class and it was a travel photography class at that. Snappin’ pics has never been part of my MO. I always believed taking pictures forced you out of the moment and into living in the past through pictures. Well, here’s to being a dummy and wishing I would’ve taken this class sooner. It turns out everyday I learn something new.

Below are 15 pillars of photography that Kevin- that would be our instructor- shared with us today:

a. Be aware of your natural tendencies. If they work for you, work with them. If they don’t, then try to change.
*Now I’m not sure what my natural tendencies are yet, but I know that I like the juxtaposition of nature against city. I’m not a big flower person. I’m not a big plain buildings person. I like decay. And monsters.

b. Light is your friend. The best time of day to shoot is very early in the morning just before sun-up until around 9:30 and then late afternoon around 3 until the sun starts to set.
*I’m excited to get up early or go out later to practice.

c. Be aware of what’s in your frame.
*Steer clear of those pesky people, birds, garbage in the wind, that could ruin the shot of a lifetime, or at least of the day.

d. Find a place you want to shoot, set up shop, and wait.
*One thing that I really never thought of was that photography takes time. If your goal is to get a good picture, you might have to wait a while. As the old adage goes, good things come to those who wait. Photos in my life have always been what’s in front of you now or a posed family picture. This definitely struck a new chord of understanding in me.

e. Use the rule of thirds.
*This will do wonders for the composition of your photograph and is something I really tried to focus on but still stumbled with a lot.

f. Decide what you want your depth of field to be and/or play around with it.
*This is new to me but a function I’m really having fun messin’ with.

g. Break through the barrier of shooting at eye level.
*Shoot from low, high, beneath or some new perspective.

h. Identify your subjects using the following tools: isolation, light, contrast, repetition.
*These are all things that will make your picture more interesting to the viewer and will give off some sense of artistic abilities.

i. Think of primary vs. secondary subjects; how are you using them to communicate something more to the viewer?
*If your subject is a person, what else in the background tells of who they are or what they’re doing? It could be subtle or not. It should give more meaning to the picture.

j. Symmetry. You can go with it or go asymmetrical depending what you like. How does it fit with your natural tendency?
*I definitely am not a fan of symmetry, unless the subject demands it.

k. Look for frames within frames.
*What does life within borders look like. Capture your subject in tunnels, under bridges, arches, weighty boughs of willow trees.

l. Dynamic vs. descriptive photography.
*Descriptive photography is just a simple, head on picture of the world. Snap a photo of a building straight on; that’s descriptive. Dynamic requires a different angle, a different perspective; abstraction.

m. Look at all your prospective perspectives of your subject.
*Is it a fountain? Don’t just shoot from one angle. Go from all sides, underneath, above. You can sort out which one you like later but you may not be able to go back. Leave no photo behind.

n. Monumentalize vs. Diminutive.
*Shoot upwards of your subject for a more majestic feel and down for a diminutive effect.

o. Moments are really important. Make it yours. Don’t take a picture that resembles something you could find on the internet. Make it resonate with you. Make it your own.

As with most topics that I know nothing about, I didn’t even know where to begin in terms of questions to ask or what to learn first. This class definitely gave me a platform to wonder. These 15 new ‘pillars’ that I’ve learned today opened a huge window for photography in my life.

I realized that photography gives you an excuse to explore, be the height of a child, a dog, a bunny, climb up on buildings, squat, tippy-toe, forget what people are thinking of you. It definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone and forced me to be a ‘tourist’ in my own town. I’m excited to search out and capture new perspectives that resonate with my natural tendencies.

In the gallery below you’ll find amateur examples of all of these pillars in the order above. So happy to know not all pictures have to be like those you find in a tourist book. To a new chapter: life with camera (& a new perspective)!

1 thought on “Travel Photography Class: An Amateur’s Review”

  1. This is a great set of tips for photography beginners. I’m going to try to use some of these in my future shots. Waiting for a good shot is something I rarely do.

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