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Quick Photo Tip: Knowing What To Shoot When You Get There.

    Special thanks to the local Department of Tourism for this location.

Special thanks to the local Department of Tourism for this location.

Have you ever arrived at your vacation destination (after planning and looking forward to it for a year), and you were possibly overwhelmed because you didn’t know where, what, and when to shoot. It can be difficult, ever for some professionals. Here’s what to do to simplify your “one in a lifetime vacation” and make it a memorable experience.

In the early eighties I started traveling a lot for assignments as well as for personal vacations and I always have done two things:

The first thing I do is to contact the Tourism Department of every country, state, and city I’m going to be in and I ask them for photographic ideas as far as what to see. These people will bend over backwards to help you for the simple reason that they want people taking pictures. To them it’s free publicity, and photographs are a quick way to spread the word around. They will send you a list of all the most popular places, and it’s a great way to start.

I know what you’re thinking, why go to the places that all the tourists go to and photograph the same things? For me, the reason is simple. Tourists will go to these places after breakfast when the quality light is gone. Or, they’ll go right before or right after lunch, when the light is the hottest. They will usually be through well before dinner so they don’t have to worry about it while sipping their glass of wine.

The above photo is a good example of arriving at a location and shooting when the tourists were long gone.

I go out well before breakfast (sunrise) when the light is the best. Then I have breakfast. Since I’ve been up a the proverbial “crack of dawn”, I’ll go back to my room and rest up (if I can). During the lunch hour, I’m sitting at an outdoor cafe, eating the local fare while sipping a glass of wine and figuring out what I want to shoot at sunset when the light is Golden. Then I go to dinner and enjoy my dinner while thinking back to what I’ve shot that day.

The second thing I’ll do in the planning of my trip is to contact the Film Commission of the same countries, states, and cities. They are also very friendly and will go way out of there way to help you with locations. The reason is the same, they want you in their country or state to spread the word around photographically.

These are the photographs that I’m looking to have prints made with. These are the important photos because I’ve spent the most time in the pre-planning stage and are taken in the best light. These are the photographs I take with my Canon 5D Mark II on a tripod. Then, there are the street/grab style photos I take all the time with the small camera I always keep in my pocket.

These are areas I cover with my online class with the PPSOP, and the “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around the planet.

Check out my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and my 2012 workshop schedule you’ll find t the top of this blog and come shoot with me sometime.





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    { 4 comments… add one }
    • Murray McComb February 7, 2012, 5:26 pm

      As always, good ideas and advice Joe. One little line in your posting really caught my eye……the one about the “small camera I always keep in my pocket” (sorry…..I know you didn’t intend that this might be the line that would jump out at a reader……). In your PPSOP workshops we always (rightly) focused attention mostly on how to visualize and take photos, rather than equipment. But I am just wondering what you use as a little pocketable camera? I ski and snowshoe a lot (you may recall my snowshoe silhouette images, though likely not!) and I find the big Canon Mk IV a bit of a brick to bring along on a regular basis. So, I’m always looking for good alternatives to carry along for when I’m not doing a “serious, pre-planned” shoot.

      • Joe February 8, 2012, 9:07 am

        For the times I know I’m going to shoot, I’ll always take my Canon 5D Mark II, and I’ll usually keep my 17-40mm lens on it with my other lens close by. For the times I’m just going out somewhere not really thinking about shooting, but knowing that it’s possible, I think about what Eddie Adams (a Pulitzer Prize winning photographer) once said, “When you get lucky, be ready”.

        That being said, I put my LUMIX DMC-LX5 in my pocket, and I’m ready for anything. The LUMIX is the exact same camera as the Leica D-LUX5. The same lens (Leica F2), and sensor, and it looks identical. The only difference is the red circle with an ‘L’ in it on the front of the camera. For that, you pay about $400.00 more than the LUMIX!!!!

        I’ve always believed that Form should follow Function.


    • Gary Thursby February 7, 2012, 10:50 pm

      This is a great tip Joe! I agree with you that even though you go to popular places lots of people photograph, most people will not do it in the golden hours. Heck they probably figure I am on vacation, why get up before the sun rises or stay out late when its setting! Result, always photos during middle of day.

      • Joe February 8, 2012, 8:53 am

        Hi Gary,

        this is exactly why I’ll find out the most visited tourist stops. I’m there when the light is the best, so as I always say, “Light is everything”!!!!


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