#2 HOW TO PLAN THE PERFECT TRAVEL SHOT
Interview for Master Phototour
1. What do you look for with your camera when you travel? Which are your favourite subjects to portray?
I have always loved travelling, being able to experience and discover new places and people is a real privilege – and with my camera in my hand, my travelling experience is even greater.
My aim is to capture the essence and soul of the place I am visiting. I pick places I want to see but also experience. I love the energy of bustling cities like Tokyo or NYC but I truly appreciate the immense beauty and grandeur of landscapes of Monument Valley or the Grand Canyon. It’s not uncommon for me to spend hours in the same spot waiting patiently for that small change of pattern in the sky or the magic moment when the light break through the clouds.
Planning and packing for my travels is a whole new ball game now! My travel itinerary is pretty much shaped by an inspirational moodboard and resembles a shoot list and schedule, planned around key sunrise, sunset and night spots.
2. Let us know something more about your gear: which are your essential tools?
My trusted Canon, a few lenses, a solid but compact tripod and a remote control are the base of all my shots. I also love experimenting with ND filters and giving my images some movement so my camera backpack keeps getting bigger! I also have a whole series of apps and gadgets to work out the position and trajectories of the sun, exposure time, and multiple weather apps! If I travel on my own, I will also make sure to have some good tunes loaded on my phone.
3. What is the most important aspect in travel photography according to you?
The most important aspect in travel photography for me is to identify what type of ambiance and look I feel will best portray the essence. Do you want to depict the busy streets of Bangkok at night with light trails or something more intimate of the city waking up? This will impact your composition, lighting, choice of tools and shooting hours.
Seasons plays a massive part in my shots as I love dramatic skies and always chasing the best light. I also try to avoid herds of tourists and therefore plan my adventures off-seasons. Capturing locations empty of people is something I also prefer, this is how I want to remember a place, peaceful, unspoiled and frozen in time.
Patience is also crucial, as it can take days, months or even years to capture the shot you had in mind. Photography is a bit like fishing, despite all the prep work, you never know what you will get, that’s what makes it challenging and interesting.
And finally, make sure you also step away from your camera and appreciate the scene unfolding in front of you.
4. Tell us about the path that lies behind a picture.
Aside from careful planning, on the day of the shoot, you will find me glued to my phone checking the weather report and I make sure to set up an hour before sunset or sunrise and shoot throughout and an hour after the event. I also find myself sprinting and running around like a bit of a nutter to get to my chosen spot – to maximise the time I can spend behind my viewfinder.
5. Do you wait for the perfect time and light to shoot, or you are more "impulsive" and tend to start shooting as soon as it is possible?
My key shots will be planned in advance but I also capture secondary shots in a more candid way throughout the day. Despite all the preparation there are always surprises a long your travels and I’d advise to keep your eyes open, vary your angles, look for details, patterns, symmetry and little subtle things that stand out to create unique shots. Getting the perfect shot is a combination of hard work, good preparation and luck as well!
One of my favourite shots was an impulsive detour to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, trying to get to our destination without speeding and as the sun was dangerously low to setting. It was freezing cold outside with a chilling overpowering wind – and with 10 minutes before the light disappeared and my fingers froze I got the most beautiful serene blue shot of the canyon’s immensity.
The basic rules of photography apply here as well. Lighting is everything in photography, that’s why I prefer to shoot sunrise or sunset where you get the most interesting skies. Composition is also something to take great care of.
6. Is the research or investigation (of a place, of people, of a single person) before a shooting important according to you?
Getting the right shot usually involves a lot of preparation before travelling. I usually plan and research months in advance and start putting a shoot list together. Planning for primary and secondary images (must-have and nice-to-have) give you additional peace of mind during the trip as you know when and where the next picture will be taken.
Another fun part of the process (Geek Alert!) is to spend hours looking at Google maps to find the best location and using photographic apps to get detailed information to plan position of the sun and moon. The itinerary will then evolve around the shoot list.
7. Among the many travels and experiences you lived, which one has been particularly touching for you? Where would you suggest us to go?
I have been to a few countries and I highly recommend the USA. I visited this country multiple times and it never disappoints. They have over 50 National Parks, amazing cities, great roads suited for epic road trips, variety of yummy food and overall great culture and people.
One of my favourite place is Monument Valley at the Arizona-Utha border. This site is a true Southwest gem and never fail to take my breath away. Seen countless times in American Westerns, the pictures don’t do it justice, you need to witness the sun rising behind the mittens to truly appreciate the grandeur of this beautiful place.