How photography people when you travel

Photography People in travel

During my workshop often people tell me that they find difficult to take good portrait when they travel. So i will explore in this post how photography people when you are not at home. In fact, approaching strangers and asking to capture them, usually with a language barrier, can be a daunting prospect. Also you have to be outdoor , without the comfort of the studio and all the tools you have in it. Like dealing with the natural light , the weather condition or just the language barrier. So i have developed approaches and techniques over the years to help become confident to photography people in travel.

Before Leaving

Before any trip, made your own researching about the destination you’re going to photograph. When you do that i noticed how big is the country and how many choice I have to make. What kind of subject i want to shooting, what story I want to tell. So i start to prepare me reading history, culture and contemporary issues. Also I will take some information about rules and social behavior. Indeed more information you have and more easy will be to have an idea that place. Then i will search for works made in the past by greater artist. Therefore from them you will be learning a lot of things. Meanwhile take notes and made a checklist can be great and i really recommend to do that. Finally, be sure you have the right traveling photography equipment. The essential gear to photography people is camera with battery and memories card, reflectors, artificial lights.


A good interaction it’s way to start , maybe the only one. It is key for photography people in travel, above all if spend a bit of time with them before bringing out the camera. It’s important not to show any photography gear when exploring new places. So as not to create distance or set up any preconceptions during initial encounters. Sometimes take time and patience to establish a connection with local people, and you might need to be with them for a while until the best possible shot presents itself or becomes apparent. Be prepare to spend a long time in one place.

Travel portrait
Couple Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

Making eye contact with people, smiling, interacting and being jovial is the key. Perhaps using gesture and expression, try to comment or ask a question about the person or the place they are in to start an interaction. Any opportunity to interact and establish a relaxed and informal atmosphere to develop personal connection is very useful before bringing out the camera. Also learning some words or phrases in the local language can also be a good ice breaker.

Once this connection has been made then all will become more easy.


Sunlight comes in many different temperatures and intensities throughout the day, and to understand how to use these different types of natural light is absolutely essential.

You’ve probably heard that the best time to capture is the golden hour. It is the time marked as the hour before sunset and after sunrise when the sky takes on a golden color

This golden light is spectacular for portrait . You’re also more likely to find people to subject around sunset, as these are the times most locals are off work and beginning to go about their daily evening lives.

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Instead during midday when the sun is high in the sky and at its harshest. Indeed you’ll lose saturation and have to deal with dark shadows and direct overhead light, which is not particularly flattering. At this time of the day most of the time is better using artificial light. Anyway you can have use the dark shadows with some composition creativity, or artificial light!

While the time of day is important, the direction the sun is coming from also plays a big role in the mood of a photograph. Photos with the sun at your back tend to look flat and boring. So try rotating the sun’s angle on your subject to get a more interesting result.

Photography People
Portrait of Man at Sunset


The Rule of Thirds is one of the most important composition process to learn of photography people. So the idea is simple: you use 4 lines, two horizontal and two vertical to, then split the frame into thirds so it is comprised of 9 parts. If your focal point, the subject of the image, is located at points where the lines cross, the image is more visually appealing. Planning ahead to capture a subject using this rule greatly enhances the quality, yet digital technology can help alter and crop images taken ‘in the moment’ to utilize the rule. Anyway you don’t have to compose all picture in this way, because is more a guideline then a rule.

Another advice it is to isolates the subject and forces your attention. Make a frame. In fact, there is a way to isolate your subject, even without a plain wall or seamless paper. In some environment you can find interesting objects that create a visual balance with your subjects.

Never be afraid to get up close with your subjects. You have too and better do it with macro lens if you want extreme closeups of individual features.

Finally I suggest to use leading lines and force your viewer’s eyes to your subject’s face or body. Also you can create interesting shape like triangles for your subjects with their bodies.

travel portrait people
Woman dry Saree

Lens for photography portrait

When you first get started photography portrait, you’re most likely to begin with the lens that came with your camera, like a kit lens. Then you moving up to a better-quality zoom that covers the focal lengths you need. 

Even you can shoot great portraits with a zoom lens, but there’s no doubts from the fact that fixes lenses are even better, they’re super sharp and offer generally better image quality than zooms.

Wide-angle lenses are good for environmental portraits – those where you keep your distance a little from the subject and include their surroundings. They are generally not as good for close-up portraits as they distort your subject.
A normal lens 50mm give a similar perspective to that of the human eye. They are interesting for portraits, occupying the middle ground between wide-angle and short telephoto lenses. They can be used for close-up portraits, although not completely without distortion.

My favourite lens for portraits is an 85mm prime lens.These lenses are often called portrait lenses because they are an ideal focal length for taking flattering photos of people. You can move in close and take images without distortion, or step back and include the entire figure without moving so far away that it becomes difficult to communicate with your model.

Telephoto lenses are often used by professional fashion and portrait photographers for the compressed perspective and their ability to isolate the model from the background.  Also are definitely heavier, not great for traveling but can give you some extra range. Really useful is some occasion.

Photography People

Be responsible!!

Ever we have to photograph people in a responsible, ethical and respectful way. Before each trip everyone has to inform and take regarding the seriousness of the sanctions in that country for drug use etc. Also you can read my article about responsible travel photography.

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