Friday, October 22, 2010

The art of the tourist

I know some photographers go out to create art.  They plan ahead, wait for the perfect conditions, and go out with the goals of capturing a specific shot.  I have run across some who believe that is the only way to create great images.  While I definitely set up shoots where that is the exact way I approach creating an image, more often than not photography is really just a part of my everyday life.  I enjoy always having a camera on me and challenging myself to capture something special from what ever I encounter.  If you have never approached photography like this I highly recommend it.  For one it forces you to accept the lighting conditions you encounter and really think about how to best use and expose for it.  You also have the challenge of seeing a scene for the first time and having to figure out on the fly if you can capture something special.  Often you might even be limited by the camera that you have on you.  The old adage of using your eyes to photograph every thing you see is also useful.  Just having a camera on you as you go through your day allows you to really look at the world around you and if you see something you can capture it.  This is how street photographers capture life so to those who practice that craft this is just how they shoot.

The idea of always having a camera on you is also great for the beginning photographer.  The idea is to always look at the world around you as a possible photograph.  Now for many of you the thought of carrying around your big fancy camera all the time doesn't sound very practical.  If this crossed your mind then I suggest you find your self a smaller lighter camera.  The Holga (a toy camera) is perfect just this purpose.  They are cheap (like $30), light (made of all plastic) and can fit in any bag you may have on you.  All you need is a few rolls of film (iso 100 and 400).  If you like instant results then an old Polaroid SX-70 or 600 camera could work as well.  The new Impossible films are getting more stable and easier to use (Check out my review and lessons learned on these film in two weeks right here).  And of course most cell phone cameras these days are pretty good (the iPhone cameras are especially fun, more on this in a future blog post).

This leads me to tourist photos.  If you practice looking for images in your everyday life this can translate really well to when you go on vacation or travel to a new city.  You can take your typical tourist photos like seen below, but sometimes even just using the right camera (in this case a Holga) can make the usual "Girlfriend in front on (insert iconic place here)" scene seem a bit more interesting.  Plus while you are being a tourist capturing the usual images you can also capture something more special!

"Kelly on Brooklyn Bridge"
Holga, Ilford HP5

"Brooklyn Bridge"
Holga, Ilford HP5


  1. awesome pano! and I like the new look to your blog.

  2. Thank you Crymson! I was so happy when I developed the film and saw that this pano worked.