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I'm a Cairns, far north Queensland, Australia professional photographer specialising in travel, editorial and environmental portraiture.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Do travel photographers ever take a holiday?

We've all heard the stories about the architect who has the kitchen that needs major renovations. Or the mechanic who never fixes all the little problems with their own car.

Well travel photographers can be guilty of a similar crime. We tend to be so intent on focussing our cameras on the local flavour around us that we forget to look back at those travelling with us.

And for many that is our families. This trip to Singapore was a bit of a first for me. I went with absolutely no plans of what to shoot. Usually I plan everything meticulously so that, even when I'm travelling with my family, I have plenty of time to get out and get the shots I really want to. In other words I'm always working even when I'm supposed to be on holiday.

This time all the planning involved as many fun activities as possible for the boys. Elephant rides, orangutan photos, shopping for souvenirs in Chinatown. And you know what? It was all really photogenic. Just in a way I never expected. I found myself shooting my family and their excited reactions to all their new experiences. I did photograph things I came across that really struck me but tried as much as possible to concentrate my lens on those closest to me.

Part of it was probably because it was such a short trip and we had such a full schedule but it actually took a lot of the pressure off. I didn't have a client to fill image needs for (and usually the client is me) and so could shoot whatever I wanted. So now I have a 1000 or so images of my boys involved in a whole bunch of activities that they've been talking excitedly about ever since we got back.

Whilst I certainly don't recommend you all go to a foreign country and neglect to photograph anything but your travel companions I would definitely recommend you concentrate a bit more on capturing images of how your friends and family interact with the cultures you come across. I'm certainly not planning to open a portrait studio in a hurry (!) but I hope I've learnt to not get so caught up in 'work' type images that I miss those around me having fun in their own way.

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