How is everyone? For the last few months I have been working on a sequel to my first book “Seeing Simplified – How to see and craft great imagery.” In the first book I mostly focused on street and creative imagery, this time I am writing about my approach to travel photography. The new book is in its final stage of editing and I should be able to release it by the end of this month. Today I would like to share with you an exerpt from my new book “Seeing Simplified – How to see and craft great imagery / TRAVEL EDITION.” I hope you will enjoy it.
Find coexisting visual worlds
A View from the Balcony
I have always been fascinated by the coexistence of so many visual worlds. When I started in photography, I often ignored it because my photographic seeing was fixated on one genre at a time because we tend to think in categories. So when you shoot landscape you can’t include humans or garbage cans or any elements which would interfere with its “beauty.” This one-dimensional approach to photography results in all the clichéd “seen-it-done-it” imagery.
It was only later when I moved from landscape and travel, from street to creative photography that I started to lose this unhealthy approach. The moment I started to mix all genres and techniques, my photos became fresh and creative.
The image above came from a simple observation, in fact from my comfortable chair on the balcony. While observing the beach, I included the balcony rail in my frame. I flipped the whole visual narrative. Instead of thinking of people walking on the beach, I imagined them walking on a railway line with the beach being just a background. It worked.
Don’t be afraid to tap into your imagination
One of the greatest experiences in photography is the challenge to respond personally to the visual elements surrounding us. This is especially true when we travel and face completely new environments. Quite often certain elements or people trigger some memories and open up new ways of seeing. The image above was crafted inside an old house we photographed on one of our trips. As I noticed the frame of the bed with a small white towel over it, my childhood memories came back to me. I remembered visiting my grandparents. As I was tapping into my memories, I decided to underexpose my image by two stops and suddenly I noticed the reflection of the window behind me with the sturdy old tree. Somehow the tree fitted into my memories, symbolizing the wisdom of my grandparents. This interplay of reality and memory helped me to put all these elements into one cohesive image. A foreign room far away from home provoked my memories and activated my imagination. What an unforgettable experience!
Take the road less travelled
We were photographing in the Palouse region, which is vast and a challenge especially if you are looking for some new visual ideas. Despite this, I wanted to explore areas adjacent to the Palouse, so each time we visited the area we gave ourselves one extra day to explore new roads. During one such escapade, we drove for hours on an empty road with no photographic opportunities.
However, at one point, we entered a beautiful long curve which led us to a lone tree. The lone tree grabbed my attention, so I parked the car and looked at the scene. I couldn’t figure out how to capture the tree in an interesting and compelling way. I turned around, drove back around the curve and recreated the visuals I saw when driving.
That’s when I noticed the beautiful white lines on the road which were leading toward the tree. I placed my camera very close to the road and by doing so I achieved two objectives. First, I was able to separate the tree from the landscape and place it against the sky and second, I made the road markings prominent leading lines.
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4 thoughts on “Seeing Simplified – Travel Edition”
Hi Olaf, thank you for this gem. I too look forward to your new book. I’m reminded of W.H. Davies’ words – “What this life, if full of care, We have no time to stand and stare”. Regards
Thank you so much for your kind note. It means a lot.
I really look forward to your new ebook. Your viewpoint reminds me of William Eggleston’s “The Democratic Forest” in which he argues that it’s not just “beautiful” subjects that have a right to be photographed. A viewpoint that I share completely even if it nearly gives camera club competition judges a heart attack.
Thank you so much John. I couldn’t agree more 🙂