The ‘secret to success’ list
Whether you shoot for fun or you’re an amateur turning pro, this little list contains the secrets to success. I’m Dave Williams, it’s #TravelTuesday, and it’s time to get on with things!
1 – Be committed
Take the sunrise analogy. If we’re committed, we’re there for the first light of the day, ready and keen to get started. If we’re willing to sacrifice a warm, comfortable bed in exchange for a cold, early morning, we’re demonstrating our commitment to travel photography and to ourselves.
2 – Think laterally
If we go where the crowds go, we’re more likely to take a shot that the crowds already got. If we think outside the box, however, we’re far more likely to create something unique that stands out amongst the crowd. It’s worth putting in the work to create something unique.
3 – Research hard!
If we put in the research behind our shots, we can plan for things that don’t often happen, like obscure moon phases or annual events. Putting ourselves in the right place at the right time will allow us to achieve something different, and meticulous planning results in us knowing where to be and when to be there. This research should present itself in the form of a shot list, allowing us to prioritise and plan whilst on a trip.
4 – Know your gear and techniques
Practicing hard and educating ourselves with regard to our gear and the techniques we can use will pay dividends when we’re on location. Having our methods honed so they become second nature means we can get far more done in a shorter time, and react to any changes effectively. We don’t need to travel to far-away locations to practice, we can do it close to home. When we are well-practiced it shows in our work.
5 – Learn patience
Patience is the most important tool in our bag—this is something I’ll always remember hearing Scott say. One characteristic of a great travel photographer is identifying and composing a photo, then waiting for everything to be right. The right light, the right colours, the right mood, the right anything—it often takes patience to have everything right.
6 – Be ready
Despite the need for patience, we also need to have the ability to reach quickly, responding to situations that develop around us. We need to understand the exposure triad (ISO, shutter, aperture) and know how to quickly apply it by touch only, so a fleeting moment doesn’t pass us by.
7 – Understand composition
We need to know when and how to apply the rule of thirds, leading lines, diagonals, the golden spiral, and every other compositional technique, as well as knowing when to break these rules with patterns, contrast, and depth.
8 – Self critique. A lot!
At the end of the day, when the shooting’s done, examine your work very carefully. Then take a break and come back to it again for another examination. Critique yourself and actively look for your mistakes so you know where to improve next time.
Photography is competitive, in some cases, more so than others. The most important thing is to have fun, and if we practice hard and achieve the most we possibly can, it becomes less stressful and easier to have fun.