Perhaps the greatest part of traveling is what stays with you when you come home; your memories, your outlook on life, the things that you have learned. Those things are yours forever and are the true benefits of travel. And that is where photography comes in. Pictures of your trip can help you keep those memories and feelings alive, can help you share your trip with others, can keep you on the hook for a return trip! So take pictures!
One question I am often asked is what kind of camera to bring on the tour. Everyone plans on taking pictures but they want some help in doing it right. Should they bring a disposable, a cheap digital, a digital video recorder, or a big expensive SLR? Well, my opinion has changed over the years. I used to preach that you should not bring any kind of expensive camera, that you should just bring cheap disposables and free yourself of the worry of a nice camera getting stolen. But with the advent of digital photography I have changed my tune.
I suggest you bring as nice a digital camera as your budget allows. You are going to take a ton of pictures in Europe, and in the days of film cameras the developing of your pictures cost a small fortune. Now you can spend that small fortune on a good digital camera and take all the pictures you want! I love digital photography! You see the picture instantly, and if you don’t like it you delete it. Simple as that. And the memory cards can hold a lot of pictures! So nowadays I strongly recommend a digital camera.
I am bringing a really nice Nikon D300 Digital SLR (single lens reflex) with three lenses! I’ll be lugging around a camera bag, but I am pretty excited. But you don’t have to bring anything nearly that large or sophisticated to get great pictures. Get a digital camera that your budget allows, practice taking lots of pictures before the trip, and bring it along!
Don’t forget, however, that digital cameras are targets for thieves. You need to keep track of your camera. Don’t put it down somewhere while you do something else. If you let got of it be sure you are putting it in a safe place in your backpack. Don’t put your backpack down while you do something else. When I sit down to lunch I always put a leg through one of the backpack straps so that it is still secured to me. I’ll do the same this year with my camera bag. So be aware of your camera and you should be just fine.
- The first thing about digital travel photography is to
- What do I mean by that?
- Research the place. Know what is there and what you think you want to photograph.
- Be sure you bring plenty of storage for the many photos you will take. Only a couple of memory cards probably won’t be enough.
- Bring plenty of power. Extra batteries are a must for shooting during the day, and a re-charger is a must for those batteries. If you bring a re-charger you will also need a power converter AND adapter to handle the different electric currents of Europe. A travel store can help you with this.
- What are you willing to carry? Just a small digital, or a big SLR with extra lenses? The choice is yours, but you’ll be carrying it around.
- These next items are just suggestions for taking better pictures. You’ll be happy that you followed some of this advice.
- Be patient. Sometimes waiting for the right shot makes all the difference. If you have the time, wait and watch for the best shot.
- Look for different or unique angles. Everyone takes the same old photo of the Eiffel Tower from the Champ du Mars. Look for something different, something unique.
- Look for those things that are unique to the place where you are.
- Get up real early and go out to piazzas when no one is there. Go out to the market when the vendors are setting up for the day and all the tourists are sleeping off their hangovers! You will be amazed what Europe looks like early in the morning.
- Stay out later and look for the magic! Europe late at night is wonderful!
- Tell a story – photograph a sequence.
- Don’t be afraid to incorporate the people of Europe in your shots. Some of these pictures will be your very favorites!
- Color! Look for big, bold, bright contrasting colors. They make for fun pictures.
- Don’t forget close-ups of things, be they cool door handles or interesting brickwork.
- Look for patterns and shapes in architecture.
- Photograph your friends in the normal moments and the weird moments of travel!
- Look high, look low. Europe is three dimensional after all!
- Take lots and lots of pictures. After all, that is the beauty of digital – you can delete them if they don’t turn out.
- Tell me to slow down if I am leading you too fast on our walking tours and you are missing cool things!
At the end of the trip my son Mark will gather up pictures and video from all of you and put together a very cool DVD, with music, of our entire trip. So take lots of pictures, tell me what your favorite music is, and we will get you an archival quality DVD or our great trip together for about $15.00.