I occasionally get the comment from people that photography takes away from what they are experiencing when they travel. A recent article from Smithsonian Magazine suggests that this might be true. They did a study where people who took more photos in a museum remembered less about the paintings they photographed than the people who didn’t take photos.
Personally, I have found the opposite to be true. Over the last seven years of traveling around the world, taking photos and becoming a photographer has done more to enhance my experiences traveling than anything else I have done.
That being said, there is a difference between taking photographs and taking snapshots, which is exactly what most travelers do. A photograph is a purposeful attempt at taking a beautiful image. It requires some thought, positioning and awareness of your surroundings. A snapshot is nothing more than pressing the button on your camera while standing in front of something.
Taking the time to take real photographs can enhance your travel experience in several ways:
1) Photography makes you more aware of your surroundings.
I tend to notice much more because I’m always looking for photos. I’m looking at the tops of buildings, down side streets and even on the ground. There have been many times where I break off from a group of people to take a photo and suddenly the group gravitates to me to take snapshots of something they missed. Once you begin looking for photos, you see much more of the world than if you are just walking through it.
2) Photos help you remember.
Despite the conclusion of the Smithsonian Magazine article, the real test of a photo’s ability to help you remember doesn’t come the day after you take it; it comes years later. I’ve looked back on the images I captured very early in my travels and have been mentally taken back to moments that I hadn’t remembered in years. As time passes, you need things to jog your memory and nothing works better than photos that you took yourself.
3) People will actually want to see your vacation photos.
Most people are bored to tears of vacation photos that are nothing more than endless shots of people in front of landmarks. Most people don’t want to see you on vacation; they are more interested in the destination itself. If you focus on taking better images, people will actually be interested in seeing your photos.
Travel photography isn’t about owning a large, expensive camera. You can do it with nothing more than a smartphone. What it is is paying careful attention to your surroundings and taking the time and effort to create beautiful images.
On your next trip, take the time to pay attention to your surroundings and you will be rewarded for years to come.
G Adventures invites you to improve your photography skills in one of the world’s most inspiring settings with the guidance of Wander-in-Residence Gary Arndt. Learn tips and techniques while capturing the diversity of South Africa through your viewfinder. In co-operation with Gary Arndt — the world’s most read travel blogger — G Adventures is pleased to present a very special departure of its ‘Cape, Rails & Kruger Quest’ this May. Reserve a space on this very special departure today.