Traveling to a new destination brings a lot of excitement in the otherwise normal life of ours.
Most of us dream about visiting some destinations that are known to be photogenic — the places which offer plenty of photographic opportunities.
While it’s great to visit such dream destinations, you’d have to take a different approach as a photographer.
Most places that you’d like to visit will be mostly tourists locations. The itineraries that you commonly find are for the tourists. These places are the most photographed and the most crowded.
Because they are visited by millions of tourists every year, what you find on the internet might not give you a fair idea about what to expect on the photography front.
You might see the same places and the same photographs over and over in every article.
You might have faced this problem. Don’t you? You might have gone to a place with a lot of expectations, but what you get there drives you crazy. On the other hand, some places keep you wondering why is that this place hasn’t been pictured this way. Isn’t it?
That’s precisely what happened to me when I visited Leh-Ladakh in the year 2017.
I did a lot of research for months preparing for the trip. All that I found was monasteries, Buddhist monks, popular lakes, the play of light-and-shadow on the earthy toned mountains, and the most famous passes like Khardungla Pass that’s dubbed as the World’s highest motorable road.
So, I expected to see them for sure. What I didn’t realize however is that there is a lot more in Leh-Ladakh that’s not so famous or almost unknown.
I found some of the breathtaking sceneries that I hadn’t seen before on the net. Not even in some of the Leh-Ladakh books that I saw.
While I was still on the trip, I decided that I have to somehow, anyhow, get the message across to every nature lover that Leh-Ladakh is more than what it’s portrayed to be.
After coming back from my 15 days solo trip, when I processed my pictures, my belief got stronger that I have to display the photographs in the right place and in the right manner.
When I was asked to put up an exhibition in one of the prestigious galleries in Bangalore–Sublime Galleria–I decided to make it a platform to show people what they have missed and shouldn’t miss in Leh-Ladakh.
I had these three goals in my mind with my ongoing exhibition:
- Those who have visited Leh-Ladakh should visit again to see all the beauty they have missed to see. Which is true for 90-95% of the tourists who’d follow the good old itinerary.
- Those who have never visited Leh-Ladakh should make it a point to visit this natural beauty.
- Those who can’t visit Leh-Ladakh, either because of the health reasons (as you can’t go to this place if you have breathing problems), or because they are too young or too old.
I think the majority of the people who visited my exhibition are from group 2 and 3. All that I heard from everyone assembled there was that they have to visit Leh-Ladakh this year without fail.
I hope I have made it a point for everyone who visited the exhibition to appreciate the beauty of this gorgeous place in Northern India and inspired them to visit the place.
If you can’t make it to the exhibition, you can see the photographs displayed in the exhibition here. If you are willing to buy some of these prints, you can do so by directly purchasing from the Gallery website. In case you want to purchase a smaller size of the photographs which are obviously very inexpensive, please do leave me a message.
I am telling you this story to take a point home. And that is, the reason we photograph a place is to show our appreciation towards that place and to inspire those who see our photographs to appreciate the beauty and hopefully visit it.
Remember that, as a photographer, we have the power to move people. And, there are scores of such incidents in the history of photography, where a photographer or a bunch of photographers or an organization have come together to convey strong messages and to move people to take a particular action or set of actions.
You & I have the same power as they did. Let’s remember that.
I was fortunate enough to be interviewed by the News channel and a Newspaper about my photography exhibition on Leh-Ladakh which is happening this month (Jan 4th to 29th, 2019) in Sublime Galleria, UB City, Bangalore, India. If you are in Bangalore, please do visit the Gallery anytime between 11 and 8 pm. Please note that the Gallery is closed on Sundays & National Holidays.
Here’s the link to the News channel interview:
Here’s the link to the interview that’s published on the New Indian Express newspaper.
Now, let’s look at the 5 key elements that you should keep in mind when visiting a new destination.
#1 Make It A Photography Trip
It might sound impossible for most photographers, especially the ones with the family, to go for an exclusive photography trip, but let me tell you that it makes a significant impact on your photography.
One common mistake that many of us seem to commit is to think that we can pull out some photographs while on a family or a group trip. It’s a mistake. It’s never going to work. And, you’d end up annoying your family or friends.
So, make it a point to go for photography only trip once in a while. Perhaps, you can plan for 1 or 2 in a year. When you go specifically for photography, you can focus entirely on making the best use of the situations and improving your skills.
#2 Do Your Research
The most important aspect of being a (professional) photographer is to know what other photographers have already done. This has two advantages:
- You’d get a sense of place and understand the photographic possibilities.
- You’d know what’s already been done thousand or perhaps a million times.
Try and read about all the places, the known and the lesser-known areas. Get the hang of the place and what to expect. Dig beyond the first few posts or pages of Google to see some articles that cover rare places.
Look at as many photographs as you can in the Google Images or Social Media channels and photographers’ portfolios. This will give you a fair idea about what to expect and how to prepare concerning the photography equipment, accessories, possible compositions, and the lighting conditions.
#3 Study The Photographs You Like The Most
We all love certain types of photographs more than others. It’s important to study other photographer’s photographs from the place you are visiting.
Whenever you find a good or a great photograph, bookmark it or download it or keep track of it. Make a note of the place, the angle, the timing, composition, light, etc.
It’s a fun exercise, and it prepares you for the place much better than any other technique you’ll ever find.
#4 Be Flexible & Be Open
This is critical when you are on a photography trip. You have to be flexible enough to change your plans to accommodate some of the rare photographic possibilities.
There might be a sudden change in weather, or an incoming thunderstorm, or some rare photographic possibilities. You can’t plan these; you just have to keep an open mind.
Don’t be rigid about what you want to photograph. Be more open to different possibilities. Even if you shoot only landscapes, try to take some culture photographs, understand the history of the place, spend enough time in each location so that you can understand it better and hopefully end up coming up with something unique.
#5 Don’t Rush. Take Your Time
I think this is the best advice I can give you as a professional photographer. You have to give yourself time in each location. A lot of time, indeed.
You have to spend as much time as you can in each location. The more time you spend the more relaxed you’ll be. And trust me, when you are completely relaxed, you’ll see things that you would otherwise miss.
It feels bit of a zen, but that’s the case.
Don’t rush things. Thinking that you’ll get a better photograph in the next location has never made anyone a good photographer.
If you have planned well, you won’t visit a place which doesn’t have photographic possibilities. If you have anyway come to this place, spend a good time there. Visualize what’s possible at different times of the day and get a good look at various possible angles.
Sometimes, a place might mislead you completely. You might feel like you have completely missed it. But wait. Wait for a while. Wait for a few hours or come back later. For you know you are at the mercy of nature and anything is possible.
Some of the best photographs happen when you think this is all worthless…You might be cursing yourself for not doing much research or blaming yourself for being unlucky, and then it happens.
And when it happens, you’ll be overwhelmed by nature. You might be blessed wonderfully.
But no one knows for sure what’s going to happen. And, I think that’s where the thrill is. That’s where the adventure is. And that’s where the life is.
What do you think?
That’s about it for now. I hope you enjoyed reading this article. I hope you’d share it on your favorite social media channels.
Have a great year ahead! Plan an exclusive photography trip this year.