Personalize Your Travel Photography

Even the most experienced travel photographers make a simple mistake. It has nothing to do with the quality of the photos they take, is independent of the quality of their camera, and has little to do with composition. I’m not talking about how to take stunning shots of the local people, natural beauty or architectural flare you encounter.  I’m talking about the photos that will never make it into the photo gallery you share with friends and family at the end of your trip.  I’m talking about photos of near strangers which offer an entirely different opportunity.

Building A Global Community

I’ve got the travel bug.  There’s no denying it.  If I don’t manage a trip every 8 months or so I get antsy. Very antsy. One of my favorite things about traveling is the people I’ve met over the years.  Just today I chatted with a friend from Sweden on Facebook, reflected on time spent in Spain when I saw an update from another friend, and wished yet another friend I made while on the road Happy Birthday.  That’s a pretty incredible opportunity for a guy sitting behind a computer in arid Scottsdale, Arizona.

What I’ve come to realize is that we now have an incredible tool to not only keep in contact, but to help each other record part of our experience. The catch is, we have to remember to snap a few extra photos along the way. Those photos help cement our friendship, build comradery and offer a wonderful way to remember amazing moments that bring memories back to life.

The Power of Facebook

Facebook has been an amazing tool for travelers.  It’s an easy way to connect, share media, and keep in contact.  It’s also a huge tool among hostelers and backpackers.  Even though the majority of its market share is tied to English speaking countries, the site has become the default service social network for travelers.  Spend more than a week hosteling and you’re almost guaranteed to end up with a Facebook profile.  Love it or hate it, there’s no question that Facebook offers a much better tool for keeping in contact than e-mail.  It also provides a fantastic tool for sharing photos. No small task when it takes weeks, if not months for travelers to get to a computer where they can upload, sort, and tag their shots.

The Social Photo

What is the social photo?  It’s an opportunity for travelers – near strangers – to help each other document their trip.  As you meet people on your tour, in hostels or at random start snapping photos of them as you would a travel companion or life long friend. Not just photos of them posing as we’re all inclined to do, but photos of them experiencing the adventure.  Supplement these shots with social shots during fun events and outings and do your best to make sure they’re flattering.

Let me be clear. I’m not encouraging you to be that weird guy with 50 photos of that attractive girl from the hostels cleavage. I’m also not encouraging you to snap 50 photos of people you don’t know.  I am encouraging you to snap a few shots here and a few shots there that not only help document your trip – but can really be a wonderful discovery that helps your new found friends document their own.

These shots are of course, worthless if you don’t share them – so make a concerted effort to not only connect on Facebook with fellow travelers, but to also upload your photos and tag them! It’s a delightful surprise to have fun shots from past trips appear on Facebook months after your original trip has wound down.

So get out there and make sure to fire off a few extra photos next time!

As always, I value your comments!  Have a favorite photo that someone took of you on the road?  Feel free to share it in the comments below!