Unleash Your Inner Storyteller: Transform Your Travel Photos into a Captivating Trip Narrative

The arts look alike. They complement each other. My theory is that the rules you apply to write well also work to take good photographs.

In the case at hand, I mean taking good pictures on your travels. Photos that tell a story.

Stories about getting lost and the two hours you took to get to your hotel.

About the lovely breakfast in that small town in Canal du Midi, where you chatted with Mario Vargas Llosa, who was sitting at the following table.

Or about that train ride from Dehli to Varanasi that was so packed you couldn’t breathe.

Ordinary encounters with strangers, pleasant and not so much; close or distant.

In short, everything that happens on one of those journeys and that you want to tell when you return.

How will you do that?

That is what this article is going to deal with. We will base ourselves on the rules of travel chronicles and adapt them to the photographic context. I assume that this is what you want to do. Based on this, here are some tips:

The first thing is: do your homework.

If you think that when you go on a trip, packing:

  • warm clothes,
  • sports clothes,
  • books, gifts,
  • your camera
  • lenses,
  • memories,
  • a viewfinder,
  • laptop,
  • have a ready passport, money, hotel reservations, and all that, was all you needed?

Well, you’re mistaken.

If you want to take photos that tell an exciting story of a trip, you also need to investigate.

Are you going to visit Paris? What are the emblematic places? Are you interested in the Louvre or the Champs-Élysées? If you answer yes, check what photographs others have taken before you and decide what image you want.

Research, rinse, and repeat.

Do you want to record the moment as a reminder to let people know you were there? Or do you now understand that the Eiffel Tower will impress you so much that you won’t sleep afterward?

Find the right angle — the one that shows your “readers” that this monument made you go “wow!” —. The best way to do so is to observe the effect that being there had on other photographers. How did they solve that challenge?

You might not love their images, but at least you’ll know not to take that specific shot.

We also learn from the things we don’t like, and your mind has to be open to saying:

“Well, I’ve seen these photographs by Ansel Adams and these others by Robert Capa; they don’t impress me much. I will do something different.”

Google those images until your eyes glaze and feel like sandpaper. Then look for some more.

All this does not mean that you will have your photographic excursion planned down to the last detail. Spontaneity and capturing the moment are not only desirable but mandatory.

Having photographs taken by artists you love in your brain’s hard drive can help you in those moments when you’re in, say, Piccadilly Circus and almost get run over by a shy driver.

Nevertheless, you dare to take this shot because you remembered something similar in your research.

Leave the pack.

A good “chronicler” is curious. He knows that an image (and here I am with a cliché) “is worth a thousand words,” and he has to have his antennae well placed all the time.

Do not be afraid to be voyeuristic and meddle a little in the lives of others.

Look for unusual situations; leave your comfort zone and return to the same place until you get what you want.

And here is a new rule: stay away from your group and don’t follow the order you set up.

That sounds harsh. But if you’re traveling with your friends and family, they will want to make a fire with “that damn machine!” shortly after reaching your dream destination.

What to do? Get up earlier than everyone else and go out with your camera.

Enjoy the peace of not having your partner ask you to hurry because the others are three or four blocks ahead, and “Gosh, this street wasn’t it.”

“You see? They left us behind because you have that device glued to your eye, and now what do we do? Do you have enough euros to take a taxi”?

“What? You don’t know where our hotel is?”

Okay. You understand.

Only by getting up very early in the morning and sacrificing your Eggs Benedict will you be able to calm down enough to warm your eyes. Take your time.

Those minutes when you take out the camera — the lens is the right one, the light is excellent, and your eyes are prepared to work… priceless.

And only when they are working can you capture interesting things.

Like these images I took in Washington. I discovered them after hanging around for twenty minutes with nothing interesting coming up.

To close and in line with that of “daring to leave your comfort zone”, take into account what Cavafis in his poem “Ithaca” said:

“When you start your journey to Ithaca

Ask for the path to be long

Full of adventures, full of experiences.

Do not fear the Laistrygonians or the Cyclopes

Nor the angry Poseidon,

You will never find such beings on your way,

If your thinking is elevated, if select

is the emotion that touches your spirit and your body.

Neither the Laistrygonians nor the Cyclopes

Nor the wild Poseidon will you find,

If you don’t carry them inside your soul,

If your soul does not raise them in you.”

Until next time.




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