Posted on 22 August 2012.
Photography buffs gather round, today we have some awesome Travel Photography Tips from none other than Jim of Around the World in Eighty Years. He shares some stunning shots and tips and tricks on making your photos stand out.
1. Hi Jim! Could you briefly introduce yourself, your site and your travel experiences?
Hey there! My name is Jim O’Donnell and I am the head monkey over at Around the World in Eighty Years. I’ve been blogging since 2003 when I walked 1500 miles across the length of Finland for my book “Notes for the Aurora Society” . I only got serious about this two years ago, however, when I started Around the World in Eighty Years. I’ve been fortunate enough to have visited 39 countries and have lived for extended periods of time in Spain, France, Switzerland and Finland.
2. How would you describe your photography style?
I wouldn’t say that I have a particular style. A travel photographer has to be very versatile, prepared to take shots of everything from food to architecture, from landscapes to wildlife and, of course, people. I began my career as an archaeologist and anthropologist so my photographic eye is particularly attuned to how human culture processes on the landscape and within the natural world.
3. How did you get started in travel photography?
By travelling with a camera. My first solo trip abroad was to Peru when I was 17 years old and I found that perhaps the most enjoyable part of that trip was interacting with the people and the place via the camera. I always took the craft and vision part of the photography seriously but, until recently, never the business side.
4. What are your top three tips for people looking to improve the travel photography on their blogs?
First, be brave. You’ll never get a fabulous photo without the courage to seek out a new perspective, talk to a new person or push your creative edge. Be brave. Take that next step.
Second, learn your equipment. Know how the tool of your trade works and what all you can do about it. A skilled guitarist didn’t get so good overnight. It took years of practice and study. It is no different for a photographer.And KNOW YOUR SUBJECT!
Finally, skip Instagram, Gogobot and other such trash. That type of stuff is the destroyer of your creative self. I wont even look at an Instagram photo anymore. It hurts my brain.
5. How do you market yourself as a travel photographer? What works and what doesn’t?
This is the tough part for me. I’m not much of a self-promoter so the advice I gave to “be brave” comes in extra handy for me in the marketing arena. And to be honest, I don’t have it all figured out yet. My goal is to eventually have my photography sales make a significant portion of my income. I’ve got a way to go. Really, I need an assistant.
6. What gear do you carry and why? Airlines like Air Canada allow you to take two carry-on bags, but not all airlines are so accommodating.
Well, let’s be honest. I absolutely despise carrying stuff. As a result, what equipment I carry is a constant negotiation I have with myself. Several years ago, every single piece of my camera equipment was stolen. It was the best thing that happened to me because it forced me to re-think what I really needed to make my art a reality.
Currently, I carry my Nikon D3000 body, a tripod, a Nikkor 55-300mm zoom, a Nikkor 18-55mm, a Zeikos macro filter kit, a UV filter for each lens, a circular polarizer for each lens and a fluorescent filter for each lens. I carry two extra batteries, a cleaning cloth, the charger and two extra memory cards. I’d really like to get a wide-angle next.
7. What’s the best way for someone to get started in travel photography? What books can you recommend? What gear can you recommend?
Photography is not for everyone so decide if that is your communicative and artistic medium before you spend any big money. You can sink a lot of money into this and then realize you don’t like it. I haven’t found many books helpful. I learn by doing. That said, I thank Brendan van Son’s e-book for beginners is one that is accessible and a good place to start. I learned by experimenting with different settings and functions, taking detailed notes on my settings for each shot so that I could evaluate it later and decide what worked and what didn’t. I’ve made, and continue to make, lots of mistakes.
8. What one travel destination would you absolutely love to photograph that you haven’t already?
I’d really like to get back to India and visit more than just the Karnataka and Goa areas. India is where the combination of the land, the people and the utter depth of history make for complex and fascinating shots. China is also very high on my list. For some reason, the Philippines is another place that is calling me on a number of levels. Again, the multifaceted cultural mixes, the history and the landscape make me think that it would be a great place to explore with the camera. At some point, I’d really like to tour county fairs around the United States and photograph them too!
9. What is the best destination you’ve photographed and why?
I’m fortunate enough to live in New Mexico in the USA, one of the most incredible places for photography in the world. It is that diversity in the landscape, the weather patterns and cultural history that lends richness and possibility to the art form. Outside of the United States, I’d have to say Haiti and India, for the reasons I mentioned in the previous question. I’d like to get back to both places.
10. Any last words for bloggers or photographers hoping to doing the same as you?
Again. Be brave. Be educated. Above all, be thoughtful, kind and generous. Photography can be a beautiful and informative art form. It can be a force of good. It can also be an exploitative and intrusive mechanism. Get to know your subject, especially if your subject is another human being. Think about how you are presenting the topic to the world and what the world might take from your capture. Will your work bring beauty and goodness to the world? If not, maybe you shouldn’t press that button.
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