Travel Photography Series Part 2 – Travel Means People
Two boys on a bike Copyright Carla Coulson My Amalfi Coast
I am off to Italy this week and already planning the menu and the photos I want to take. As I love to travel and so do you I have Part 2 of my Travel Photography series for you today.
Thanks for all your wonderful feedback on Part 1 of the Travel Photography Series – Travel Means Food. If you missed it you can read the post here.
Today I want to share with you how I always include people pictures in my travel stories and why magazines love this.
TRAVEL MEANS PEOPLE
I have worked for many travel magazines that have told me that if there isn’t a person in the shot the image won’t be published!
What does this mean? No ghost towns please…
People give images life, clues to the culture and they tell another part of the story that maybe the background or the cityscape doesn’t tell.
Why are people so important? Their clothes, their faces, how they work, eat, live and play tell the story of a culture. When photographing a travel story this is your aim to go a little deeper into the culture and tell us a story of that place rather than just a bunch of photos of buildings or empty landscapes.
Man Reading The Newspaper – Naples
Copyright Carla Coulson Italian Joy
HOW TO INCLUDE PEOPLE IN YOUR PHOTOS:
GOING ABOUT THEIR DAILY LIFE
People going about their daily life give us so many clues to a place. The two boys in the first picture were riding into a town on the Amalfi Coast and I couldn’t resist this taking this photo. For me it gives a sense of youth, freedom and vitality that a straight picture of the landscape would ‘t have given.
I adored the beautiful gallery in Naples with its 19th century architecture but it was an added bonus an elegant man decided to read the newspaper in front of a beautiful detail.
You can shoot people going about any type of daily life whether it be in the markets, on the streets, in shops, homes. Often I find a scene I love and wait for someone to enter it doing something interesting or dressed in a beautiful or typical way.
Fish Vendor Sicily Copyright Carla Coulson Chasing a Dream
Little Girl On A Vespa Naples – Copyright Carla Coulson Italian Joy
I always love to get some very simple portraits in amongst other types of images including people. The above photo of the man was taken in a fish market in Sicily and I adored this man, his face, his clothes and the simple paper hat in was wearing. I asked him if I could take his photo and he kindly posed for the picture. When taking a portrait I ALWAYS ask the persons permission and that way they collaborate on the pic and bring their own creativity and knowledge to your photo.
And of course the little girl lying on the Vespa tells a story that know words could!
ENVIRONMENTAL SHOTS, CITY SCAPES AND LANDSCAPES
One of my favourite ways of taking a pic is to choose a beautiful piece of architecture or cityscape and wait for the people to fill the scene. In the above photo in Milan for Gourmet Traveller it was essential to get a shot of the Duomo but I wanted it with people going about their daily lives.
I noticed in the morning many commuters travel on the public bikes so I waited till one rode into my photo. This gives an additional clue to readers how people travel within the city.
Noto Sicily Copyright Carla Coulson Chasing a Dream
Often when shooting a travel story you want to have a beautiful architectural shot without the interference of someones face or image. This is the perfect time to use a silhouette where the person is simply an element in the photo. The above pic I took in Sicily and was freaking out when I saw the light. But the photo was nothing till this man and his shadow walked into the picture!
Rawlinna Outback Australia Copyright Carla Coulson Chasing a Dream
SPORTING AND CULTURAL EVENTS
Carla goes weak at the knees at the thought of a ‘real’ event. Where the real people in that place are doing what they do best! I always check the calendar wherever I go to see what is on whether it be music, sport or a religious festival. Makes for great photography. My heart was in my throat when I saw this sporting event in the Australian Outback. Aussie photographer chick heaven!
PEOPLE IN INTERIORS
The above photo was taken in Giorgio Armani’s restaurant in Milan. This is a classic travel interior shot where the magazine want to see the restaurant but by adding the waiter it gives it life, shows whether the restaurant is ‘smart’ or ‘casual’ and gives the image another dimension. I always ask the wait staff their permission to take the photos and they are normally willing to collaborate.
Rocco leaves Positano Copyright Carla Coulson My Amalfi Coast
Paris Metro Copyright Carla Coulson Paris Tango
TAKE THE PHOTOS YOU LOVE
Any travel story will have heart when you take the photos you truly love. My tips above are just that, always trust your instinct, your style and what makes your heart do somersaults. . Taking the photos you love will always connect others to your photography.
I hope this helps you on your way to taking better travel photos. If you missed Part 1 of this series on Food or Part 3 on architecture you can catch it here and if you want my take on permissions and photo releases you can read about it here.
My Favourite Gear
“No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.” Lin Yutang
P.S. Please feel free to share to anyone starting out in photography or who has the travel bug x
Wow, excellent advice! I never thought of those simple reasons for including people and I am convinced! Thank you for sharing so generously all of your knowledge, expertise and talents as a photographer! bisous xo
When you ask for their permission, do you also have them sign a release form? If not, is there issue in publishing the photo?
Great tips! Thanks for sharing!
Wonderful Carla, I am getting back into the swing of asking people for a photo. My head always thinks they’ll say NO yet my heart always gets a Yes. The people in the borgata are incredible and amazing stories, we are starting to record them. I love how our son Luca just walks up to people tugs on the sleeve and points the camera, he is a natural lol x
Inspiring and heartfelt work! I hope you find the right light and the right people on your trip to Italy. The weather is beautiful right now and we are full of blossoms and tall grass Xcat
I’m in my ‘second home’ in Florence at the moment shooting for a story that will be published in Australia soon and have taken some shots with people in them, who, much like your boys in the top photo, were fleeting, so there was no time to even ask for their photo. I’m wondering what do you do about getting permission to publish their photo (such as in getting them to sign a model release) – or if you need to? Ever had a problem with this? Thanks Carla!
More incredibly helpful tips, Carla! Your photos of Italy make me want to run there pronto! Some friends are renting a house near Lucca this summer and I’m thinking I should join them…:) x Katie
Wonderful shots, Carla!
VERY GOOD POINT ABOUT THE PEOPLE!I AGREE IT MAKES FOR A MORE INTERESTING PHOTO.ESPECIALLY, LOVE THE BOYS ON THE BIKE WITH THE UNDERWEAR SHOWING!MY 23 YEAR OLD STILL DOES THIS AND IT DRIVES ME CRAZY!BUON VIAGGIO TO ITALIA!YOU LUCKY GIRL!XXX
How I adore Travel + your tips. Happy Trails to you. xxpeggybraswelldesign.com
Thank you once again and again for your GENEROSITY Carla for sharing.
One more important lesson to learn.
It’s so true, people are vital for travel photo. A good point to go out earlier as later in a day in a city one can capture mostly fellow tourists not the locals.
I agree very much about the “people bring life to the photo” part. It’s a difficult part for me though, because being a Scandinavian I love minimalism and simplicity, and I very often find myself preferring a cityscape without people in it. That said I am also curious to know how you deal with publishing photos that contain people who can be recognized. I am always so afraid to upset someone by publishing their photo which means that I never use any photo if there are people in it, that I don’t know and thus don’t have a permission from.
Your photos are gorgeous! I’m a big admirer of your work!
Saluti da Firenze,
Adore this Carla. I think you know how, in my small way, I agree that the people hold the key. Especially, for me, In Italy. Un abbraccio. jxo
I also think that one, just one silhouette is enough to make the picture alive. Or the expression. Cities and towns are made by people for people.