February 19, 2019

Notes on travel photography

Kathmandu rooftopsKathmandu rooftops

The status quo in travel photography: take beautiful, evocative images that portray the romantic ideal of a place. I’m often a fan of such photos, but the reaction I have to them maps poorly to the real experience of a place. They romanticise, they misrepresent.

When I travel to a place, the experience of being there is completely different to most travel photography depicting it.

Much of the beauty of exotic places, I think, lies in their mundanities. Seeing ordinary people going about their everyday lives. Watching people take for granted something you find extraordinary.

We photograph highlights and landmarks, yet spend our time on streets, in cafés, homes, gas stations, public bathrooms, and other mundane and normal places. For me it’s these places that leave a lasting impression of a place traveled.

How might we better capture these mundanities? How might we tell truer stories of a place?

  • Shoot on a bad smartphone?
  • Record really high-quality audio?
  • Intentionally amateurish angles?

How might we make people realise the normalness of other peoples’ lives, the mundanity, the fact we’re really not that different?


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