FIRST AND FOREMOST ARE THE PEOPLE. Travel is defined by many of us through the characters we meet along the way. Second is place. Foreign landscapes, flora and fauna, modes of transportation, famous or unique landmarks, buildings and sculptures — basically, anything that makes a place different from “home.” Third is action. Capturing the moment. Samba dancers at Carnival, street jugglers in Barcelona, local boys playing a game of football on the beach, your mate’s best wave of a surf trip. Last is something I would call details. Textures and colors that form the foundation of a place and its people.
From the recent family vacation to a magazine assignment, creating a balanced set of images so that a viewer will feel a place and its people is the difference between mediocre and good travel photography. Great travel photography happens when a good travel photographer encounters those rare and fleeting moments when all four elements come together — not in a series of images, but in a single one.
Each element requires a slightly different approach and can also depend greatly on what equipment you’re using, where you are, what you hope to capture, what your goals for the photos are, and so on. Since photography is a visual medium and one that’s only improved through experience, I dug through my slide files and hard drives for some of my favorite examples of each aspect.
[All photos by Cody Forest Doucette]