Ask ten people what makes a good travel photo and you’ll probably get ten different answers. Most people would agree that a sense of place is important, but after that it gets harder to reach agreement.
How do you achieve a sense of place? As a beginner, I’m still groping around for answers. Until I moved to Zambia in 2015, the question rarely crossed my mind. Yes, I’d flicked through magazines and newspapers, with their Travel sections and colour supplements. But that was about it – if I wasn’t interested in the location, I’d turn the page and move on.
So what do I think now? What qualities make a good travel photo?
-If the photo’s going to stand alone, it needs to announce where it was taken. It’s something of a cliché, but if you want to illustrate Paris, a picture of the Eiffel Tower hits the mark. The skill lies in presenting the Eiffel Tower differently from the millions of photographers who’ve been there before.
-Once the scene is set and viewers know where they are, it’s time to wander off the beaten track and look for offbeat details that illustrate your location. For me this is the most interesting part of travel photography.
“Chess players” was shot in Lusaka, outside the city hospital, and for me it sums up the sociable outdoor life of Zambia.
-Graphic impact helps to grab the viewer’s attention and keep it – see “Long lasting pots” for example, at the start of this post. As an added bonus, the writing on the wall leaves viewers in no doubt about where the picture was taken.
Clearly there’s a lot more to say about the craft of good travel photography and I’ll come back to the subject in future posts. In the meantime, I’m interested to hear your views. Leave a comment and let me know what you think.