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With access to fascinating subjects off the beaten track and 25 year’s experience under his well-travelled belt, no-one knows photography in Japan better than Everett Kennedy Brown. He shares 8 of his top tips for the perfect travel snaps.
How can we create travel photography to cherish when the journey is over? Rather than taking snapshots of a moment, a good image changes our way of seeing the world long after we’ve returned home.
The secret to taking great travel photos begins at home. Read as much as possible about where you are going for ideas about the kind of photo opportunities to expect. Look at images on the internet to see how others have captured the places you’re travelling to and think about how you can approach things differently. The images we have in our heads are like filters on how we see the world.
2. Find inspiration
Novels and poetry help us go deeper and activate our subconscious imagination. Imagine travelling around Japan through the eyes of a character from a Haruki Murakami novel – think of all the people and places you would encounter! Words and stories give us images to dream about and help us imagine where we’re going before we arrive.
As simple, easy to digest visual poems, haiku are great to read before travelling to Japan. They have moments of beauty that catch our eye in the same way a good photographic moment does, and they help us pay the attention to detail needed to take good photographs.
3. Travel light
This gives more opportunity to be spontaneous, step off the tourist path, get lost and make new discoveries – the back streets of unknown cities open the back streets of our imaginations.
4. Go local
Eat where the locals eat. Knock on a stranger’s door and welcome yourself into their world – figuratively speaking! Seek out opportunities to interact with local people and allow the spirit of serendipity to kick in. This is where great photographs happen.
5. Use peripheral vision
This is important. Spending so much time looking at screens narrows our field of vision and how we interact with the world. Some of the best photographic opportunities come at us from the corners of our eyes, so explore the edges of your peripheral vision to see moments jump out.
Shoot away, like a cat playing with its prey. Imagine yourself a painter, sketching sheet after sheet of drawings – digital photography gives us the luxury to snap a lot and delete later. First shoot wide and then explore the details. Pay attention to the background. Get rid of clutter in the image. Shoot high. Go low. Shift gears. See the world the way a child does.
7. Try new technology
There are lots of cool gadgets to play with these days – experiment with new technology.
These tools and techniques are great, but in the end, the joy of photography (like travel) is about exploring new ways of seeing the world. Many of my best photographs come from a spirit of play – it’s here that great images happen. Travel gives us time to play and photography gives us the opportunity to bring these experiences home.
Take your camera and join Everett on a journey this October to meet memorable individuals, explore rural communities and take completely unique photographs. Visit getthepicture.tours or get in touch to find out more. All photos © Everett Kennedy Brown.
Everett’s article featured in the latest issue of east travel magazine.
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