Welcome to week three my little croissants! Ready for more
torture learning? This week we’re going to cover the essentials when learning how to take bad ass travel photography.
Before I beat you with new information, let’s review. Are you working on travel blogging mistakes and revising your latest posts? If you’re not, don’t make this fairy goblin go over there!
When many travel bloggers first begin, they’re guilty of using phone photography (ducks behind counter to avoid tomatoes for doing this as Gina Bear in Japan). If you want to compete, you need quality over quantity. Photography is a form of art unique to every person who gets behind the camera. Two people can be at the exact same location and their photos will be completely different. I can’t magically teach you to become a bad ass photographer overnight, but I can guide you from zero to hero. If you missed any posts on my Blarch Festa here’s the complete list:
March 3: Why Travel Blogs Suck
I’m sure you’re dying to know what gear I use. On Gina Bear demystified, I present my heart and soul. My go to for everything is my Cannon Kiss that I purchased before I left Japan. It’s an older model known in the West as the Rebel T3i. I use the standard lens but I’ve upgraded to the Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS AF. For those following me on YouTube, I’m a travel vlogger as well. I use a mix of my DSLR and my SJCam 5000x elite. Personally, I think the Gopro is too expensive and the SJCam takes just as great quality photos and videos. As an added bonus, many of the Gopro accessories fit the SJCam. #winning
Every movie or book has a theme and so should your photos. Pick a theme and shoot it. For example capture doors, temples, solo shots in nature, etc. Some travel bloggers shoot their feet on beautiful tiled floors or take awesome cliche shots. Practice with all themes and discover what feels real for you.
Shoot with your feet and not your zoom
In my experience, zoomed photos aren’t as great as the ones I actually walked up to. The ones that I walked up to took time to set up. Besides, zoomed photos end up looking super grainy and blurry.
Be curious and not invasive
Don’t be that asshole who just takes photos of people without permission. If you want to take photos of people, do it at a distance so you’re not disturbing anyone. Want a close up shot? Chat with them and ask if it’s okay to take their photo.
Find inspiration on Instagram or Pinterest
Search hashtags and save amazing photos for a chance to recreate your own. Any form of art is a different take on one already made. My favorite thing to do is to look at photos someone else has done and think about how I can put a Gina Bear spin on it.
I cannot emphasize enough how important this is. Before I even think of shooting a YouTube video or having an Instagram photo opp, I always scope out the location. ALWAYS. I bring a notepad and take notes of the most scenic places or bring my camera and take photos as notes.
Give zero shits if someone sees you selfie
I know most of us are camera shy and it takes time to build your confidence. Besides, are you gonna remember that mean mug when your look back on your photo and are super proud of it? Didn’t think so. Are you going to feel embarrassed when you get compliments on Instagram about what an amazing shot it was?
Lighting is key
My favorite days to shoot are on days that are overcast. It gives a softbox effect and if you use Photoshop CC you can always go back and add in an awesome sky. You’re also looking for the Golden Hour. What is the Golden Hour you make ask? It’s the hour after sunrise and the hour before sunset. The trick is there is not exact minute you should be shooting at. Photos take time so find out when the sunrise/sunset are and set up camp. The best part? Not many people go out during those times making practice and photos opportune.
P.s. The worst time of day to shoot is noon where the shadows on your face will be ugly and everything will be bleached out.
Study Your Photos
The best way to see what does well doesn’t only depend on the time you post, but it also depends on the location. For instance, my Laos photos are beautiful and vibrant with color. They’re edited well and make me so happy to look at. Did they do well? Not particularly. Location matters because any time I post a photo of Japan, Korea, or Okinawa, they tend to get the most likes. Look at how the photo was taken, when it was taken, and the weather. Those will be great indications of how to get consistently great photos in the future.
What emotion do you want to showcase?
I have a habit of showing my photos to my best friend. If he says wow or gives me a yes go, then I almost always post that photo. I show it to others and if their face is not saying, “Ermergerd YERS” immediately, then I go back and edit or I look for a different photo. If your photo isn’t making you feel anything or your audience, it’s definitely not worth it. In the travel blogger game, you’re all about worldly inspiration.
Rule of thirds
This rule keeps your photos more visually appealing. If your subject is a bit off center, it looks better. Mentally divide your photos into three sections and you’ll immediately start seeing the difference.
Remember what I said about shooting at the Golden Hour? You may have to sacrifice those extra hours of sleep or stay on your tired feet a bit longer, but it’ll be worth it as most people are gone by those hours and the clouds make you go, “Oh la la. Boom shaka laka.”
Advice for Solo Shots
The important part is knowing exactly what you want. If you don’t know, how can you capture something you’ll love? Another common mistake I find is people don’t think before they shoot. They just want the shot and take it, only to find it wasn’t so great in the end. Look at your subject and decide what you want in the shot. Think of how you want to remember the moment.
One of my friends who is a model here in Korea taught me that a 25 mm lens is closest to the human eye when it comes to portrait shots. You know what else makes solo photography a lot easier? A gorilla pod that can easily attach to a tree branch or light post. I personally love my tripod as it’s lightweight and easy to carry around. I focus, set my camera on a timer and presto! I also recommend a remote control for that extra photo focus.
The same position can get boring. Give it a twirl, pose obsessively, snort laugh. Basically do whatever you feel like while your timer is going. You never know what shot will end up looking the best.
Know your angles
There’s a reason why Kim K is the selfie and Instagram queen. She may take a million photos of herself but through the years has made her selfie game strong. If you follow me on Instagram, you would’ve seen my iconic Gyeongju photo. What’s my best asset? I’ll let you decide.
You want to know why so many people are doing this? I can give you a plethora of reasons, but the first is that it’s really hard to fuck up. Bad hair day or acne problems? Didn’t put your makeup on? No problem. Just turn around and show off your best angles. P.s. In this I wasn’t wearing any makeup and starting an allergic reaction break out. Ouch.
You know those jump shots? They’re super fun and people seem to enjoy them all the same. Even if you’re posing for a candid shot, it’s still candid and doing whatever you like. Mirror shots and drinks held up to some sort of amazing scenery are sure bets.
Use a Selfie Stick
You don’t necessarily have to use a selfie stick for your face, but you can turn around and get great shots. When I use my iPhone, I always use the rear camera angle the camera up and behind me. When I’m doing physical activity like zip lining, my action camera selfie stick is my favorite accessory.
Use color strategically
Every photographer loves working with a specific color palette. Just look at your photos and see which colors show up the most. I personally love bursts of blues and reds and it’s very evident in the clothes I wear and the subjects I’m most geared toward. Just remember it’s all about balance.
Edit, Edit, Edit
As I’ve said before, I use Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop CC. This has been a lifesaver when taking my photography to Buzz Lightyear’s infinity and beyond. Some choose to display untouched photos and that’s cool too. I hate to say this, but if you don’t edit, you really don’t stand a chance. In an age where the bar keeps getting higher, you can’t afford not to tune your images. If you’re not ready to take the plunge into the learning curve and money investment, I used PicMonkey for the longest time and is a great tool for beginners. I also use Snapseed to edit my phone photos.
You Better WERK BETCH
If you think travel photography is all just fun and games… Think again…
One of my favorite travel vloggers, Hey Nadine did an awesome video highlighting her best and worst travel moments. She talks about how she did the W Trek in Patagonia and how even though it was beautiful, they had to suffer through giant gusts of wind through their tent. Womp. Womp.
Hopefully your eyes didn’t cloud over after this photography fiasco and you’ll stick with me until next week where we cover how to take you bad ass travel photography and make it help your growth. And if that’s still not enough check out this free online photography course. There’s videos and great tutorials that will help jumpstart your travel photos!