Chris Coe's Photography Tips (Part 2)
Last month we shared the first instalment of Travel Photographer of the Year founder Chris Coe’s tips for taking better travel photography. From the looks of the images you’ve been sending our way, you don’t appear to have been taking heed of professional advice.
Luckily, we’ve got plenty more travel tips lined up, including 5 more fantastic tips from the pro himself, Chris Coe (plus a few bonus pointers for entering competitions!):
Chris Coe's travel photography tips
- Check the background BEFORE you shoot. How many times have you taken a photograph without realising that the subject has a tree sticking out of their head, or a metal bar going in one ear and out the other! (We know a few crapsnappers who are guilty of this faux pas!) The background is just as important as the main subject so check for objects, lines or splashes of colour that may look like they are attached to your subject.
- Take time to observe. Good photographers are very observant. They don't just see the big scene but also see details within it. If you like photographing people, try people watching. Sit in a cafe and just watch for a while. Soon you'll spot interesting details, how people move through a busy place, where they stop and how they interact with their surroundings and other people.
- Be patient and wait for the right moment. Sometimes that moment can be the difference between a bad shot and a great one. You'll find your photography improves dramatically if you slow down. This is never more true than when you are on safari. The excitement of seeing amazing wildlife makes most people click away furiously - but in most cases the animals aren't going anywhere (unless you make lots of noise and movement!). Slow down, get ready and wait for the right moment when they are doing something interesting: interacting with other animals or looking straight at your camera. The same is true of other subjects. If you're photographing people in the street, wait for the big ugly truck to pass then take the picture. Mountains aren't going anywhere either so waiting for the sun to come out from behind a cloud can make a huge difference.
- Be aware of the light. Work with it, not against it. Be aware of where the light is coming from and how it's changing. Most photographs are lit by sunlight so you should know where the sun is, even if it's behind clouds, and where the shadows are. If you're photographing a person don't face them towards a bright light as it'll make them squint. Whatever you're photographing, don't put the sun behind them or it, unless you want a silhouette. When the sun isn't shining is often the best time to shoot. You lose the harsh shadows and show much more detail and subtle colours.
- Photography is fun! Have fun and don't be afraid to experiment. Not all your photographs will work but look at the ones that don't and work out why, then put it right next time. If at any time you're not having fun then put your camera away and do something else. If you're photographing people then interact with them and bring some of their personality into your pictures. Keep an eye open for funny and humourous things that'll make us all smile and don't be too obsessed with getting a ‘great shot’. Enjoy yourself and it will come to you.
And when entering a photography competitions:
- Read the brief very carefully – it’s no point submitting a fabulous photograph if it’s going to be excluded because it doesn’t fit the theme of the competition.
- Try to show something unusual – the judges will get fed up of seeing the same subject again and again, so don’t always include photographs of obvious subjects. But if you can’t avoid that, then try to shoot them from an unusual angle or show a different aspect of the subject.
- If you have to submit a set of images rather than just one, make sure that they work well together. Pull them all up on your computer screen side by side or, with prints, lay them out together – do they make a strong set as well as strong individual images?
- Take a look at what’s won the awards before and try not to submit images which are very similar – the judges won’t want a copy of the previous year’s winners!
The Travel Photographer of the Year exhibition is currently running at the Royal Geographical Society in London, so why not head along and see Chris' advice put into practice? - entry is FREE and open until 19 August 2012.
This competition is now closed for entries. Thanks to everyone who sent their crapsnaps our way.