Traveling and experiencing new places is refreshing and can indeed be a source of inspiration. Every now and then, I find I need to go somewhere else to enjoy and appreciate what I have at home.
However, it's not uncommon that most of my photographs from my travels are boring or just not good. Often, I walk around with my camera and take stock of almost anything and everything, hoping that some images will turn out ok. I can also feel overwhelmed when being at a stunning and grand location, not knowing where to start or what to focus on.
Do I do this at home? No, I usually have a plan of what to portrait. I know what season it is and how far it has come. I know when the light is optimal and know where to go to get lucky. Because it's a bit true, isn't it? That photography is about going to locations where there is a likelihood to get lucky and find the perfect subject in optimal light? But of course, there is pure luck and surprises too, I guess.
I've realised that doing a bit of research and becoming familiar with my new location increases the chance of creating more beautiful images.
I recently traveled to the Maldives with my family. If you travel with family, you understand my struggles: Everybody gets annoyed with you and your camera. Therefore, my plan was to capture as good photos as possible with the least effort and strain on my family.
When arriving, I scanned the island we were staying at without my camera. Where do the sun set and rise? What's the weather forecast? Where does the wind come from? What does the island look like: what kind of animals and plants are there? What seems typical for the island? I could do the planning and be social with my family at the same time.
I guess I want to say that taking good photos doesn't necessarily mean constantly walking around with a camera and taking stock. Sometimes, the time and effort we put into planning our images are equally important to have an impressive gallery and portfolio. It's also a bit of relief for yourself and your fellow travelers and family members!
Think of some great artists: Monet had lily ponds in his garden, and van Gogh portraited Arles, where he stayed for over a year. Both had deep knowledge about their subjects. With that said, bringing a smartphone isn't a bad idea for those spontaneous and lucky once-in-a-lifetime shots!
Thanks for reading, and the best of luck!