Photographing While Traveling

I've written around this before, the idea of making good pictures while traveling. Very hard to do, this thing of making substantive work from first impression. I know firsthand, as I have a lot of experience in making many bad pictures on all kinds of travel. 

Near Trieste, Italy 2012

I learned early on, while driving south from Frankfurt to Avignon in France in the summer of 1977 that to simply make pictures of what you haven't seen before does not a good picture make. I came back to process the film and make prints that fall, only to learn that I had seriously fucked up. The work had absolutely nothing of substance in it that I could see. I learned a serious lesson from the pictures I made during that trip. As a career artist/photographer I have never looked at traveling and making pictures in the same way since. 

Kudzu, Georgia 2014

What's the trick? To photograph using your mind as well as your eyes. Put your heart in there too.To work to be expressive and to say things with your photographs. This doesn't mean being literal but to react with skill and forethought to your surroundings, also to intuit by leaning on experience. While there are numerous disadvantages to aging there are a few good things too. And one of them is that I know stuff. I know if a format, a framing device, a focal length, a setting, a kind of light or the air itself will help or hinder my photograph. Good photography takes huge flexibility. By this I mean adaptability. This is one of the reasons we pursue it with such passion. Imagine the synergy required to make a picture that has real substance, meaning and quality.  Most painters don't make quality from massive quantity but we do. No wonder we make so few good ones.

Skate Park, Healdsburg, CA 2014

One of the things I've learned is to carry the same sensibilities and proclivities with me wherever I go. This means that it is foolish to deny your innate aesthetic just because you're someplace new. Your stock in trade is your stock in trade. Yes, it is good to try different approaches when confronted with new material, but also important to rely on the core values of your practice too.

Saltair, Utah, 2015

I believe some of mine are (in no necessary order): quality, clarity, resolution, interest in comparing things close to things far away, color, tonality, enigma, minimalism, humor (irony and taking out of context), perspective, place, light. Do you know what yours are? Write them down and think about what you've written. Add or correct as necessary. 

Last point. Get out of the rut you're in. Take a chance. Go someplace, see something, photograph something. This is from personal experience. By going someplace I do not mean going on vacation with your partner, bringing your fancy equipment and stopping on the road to take a few. The last blog was called: Garbage In/Garbage Out. Dedicate a trip to make pictures. Work all day every day you're away. This is how you make good work when you travel. You will return with good work. Back from Iceland a week and I am very excited to be printing new work made while there. Some of you reading this know who I am talking to. This veteran photographer with old eyes moving, shooting, seeing new places and new circumstances. Simply the best. Go!

Pulaski, Virginia 2013

Hofsos, Iceland 2013

Topics: Traveling

Permalink | Posted August 18, 2017