There are countless (well maybe not exactly countless but still a lot) types of photography out there and I do think that it’s important, as a photographer to truly find what you like to shoot and eventually become better and better at it. I doubt that it’s possible to either be good in every kind of photography or even to like every kind but, to truly find yourself and your own style, you have to experiment and try different things, even if the only goal is to realize you do not like studio, food or concert photography. You have to try to know what you like and what you want to invest time in getting better at. Eventually, you’ll find one or two fields that you really enjoy and to aspire to reach a professional level, you should concentrate your efforts in that direction.
I’ve been doing many things among the years, a lot of concert photography (which I still like a lot and consider myself not too bad at it), corporate assignments, weddings, polo and, of course, travel photography which takes us at the core of this article. My own favorite field, where I want to excel and where I truly belong is this, the very vague notion of travel photography which I’ll try to explain in my own words without even reading a Wikipedia description beforehand.
Unlike most other fields such as wedding or concert photography where the scope is clearly defined, travel photography is quite a vague one. What’s included in it and what’s not? In a way, would any photo taken outside of your home country be considered as such? Could photos taken in your home country could be considered travel photo? Is pure landscape photography considered as such? A portrait of someone in the street? An empty alleyway? A monument? Do you absolutely need people, local and culturally recognisable people in the image to be the travel photography type? Well, humbly, according to my own opinion and without quoting any important or famous thinker, I would say, it’s up to you.
In my own eyes, it’s more of a mean of expression, a goal rather than a predefine set of rules or standards. I think that you need to have the will to transcend the energy and atmosphere of a place. Your ultimate goal should be that your images themselves make other people travel. Travel photography should be a mean of telling the story of the unknown, the elsewhere, a story that educates and/or induces the wish to go there, to see the place.
And how do you do that? Landscapes? Portraits? Architecture? Any way you want that works? YES to all these questions. Is traveling only seeing people or mountains? Of course not, traveling is all that and even more, so should be photography. You are away, tell the story how it unfolds before your eyes and your camera. Be ready to capture any moment. It may not seem like much at the time but it can mean a lot for those not used to it. That’s what I love and fear about it all, it’s everything you want but at the same time it can be too much, too vague. In fact, that’s what travel really is.
So that would be my advice. Do not ask yourself too many questions, just grab a camera, pick a country you’ve always dreamed of going to and get the cheapest plane ticket and the Lonely Planet (do not forget the Lonely planet book, trust me). After that, tell a story, think about how you would tell it with words and do it with images. Have an intention behind your images, not only showing a nice building with typical looking folks but have your viewer imagine what was happening. Make people dream! Make people take their backpacks and explore the world!