A Traveler’s Eye
‘I bet almost everyone in this structured world at least once in their life, feels like leaving their predictable complacent and comfortable surroundings and lose themselves in a chaotic, crazy and frenzied ‘nowhereland’. When I get lost in such a hectic adventure my pulse rises rapidly as I leave behind all the sober responsibilities that I have. When I leave to get lost in such an unknown destination I am transformed into a Gypsy. Most people of all countries of the world welcome travelers with love. Perhaps it’s because all of them are invisibly chained to their daily reality and seeing travelers makes them dream. That’s why when they see a traveler with a camera their smile says, ‘You lucky dog!’
To go traveling, the one factor that pushes me the most is always photography. To get to know an unfamiliar world I go out to find a story of the people living there then interpret my journey through images. Travel photography reveals everything about a country, a region, a community, a culture, a person. It arouses interest in others to be familiar with the place, to go to the place, and to find themselves in the place’
– GMB Akash
Travel Photographer’s Map:
There was a time when I put my globe on my reading table and imagined myself to be like Vasco da Gama. I wished to take pictures of the world with my small tiny black machine. Time passed by and I understood that if I open the ‘window’ of my map that my own country comes first and only after walking through it do I want to go to other countries. The importance of our Petenga beach in Bangladesh can be the same as being in Laos for me. The Dhaka mosque is an ideal setting with which to start shooting that prepared me for the intense inspiration that that I felt at Istanbul’s Blue Mosque. However, it is not only desirable destinations in other countries that create excellent photographers. Even discovering one’s own territory provided the pleasures and excellent photographic results equal to those of a world tour. For those people who get the chance to travel outside their own world, their TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHER’S MAP becomes like a puzzle to be solved. When you are aboard you like to take pictures of everything you see. Because when we are away from our known place a lot of questions arise in our minds. How differently do these people wear clothes? What do they eat? How do they travel? Where do they pray? Restless clicks of travel photographers start at dawn and last throughout the day in order to get all these questions answered in the form of images. If you can gather together all this answers it will become your complete travel story.
Travel Photography pack light and with love:
Sleepless nights and unstable feelings are what a traveler photographer experiences before a journey. From Cox’s bazaar to Switzerland my feelings are the same kind of restlessness before such trips. I admit that there are few people who are very calculative, well researched and who can follow their initial plan for their photography tours without becoming impulsive. But I belong to the first group. The thing with travel photography is that it’s dreadfully addictive. You want to go when you want to go, reasoning be damned. But you must practice some self-control and try to remain disciplined.
Try to carry the absolute minimum that you can. Why lug around extra devices in your already heavy back pack? My traveling kit consists of – a couple of dark t-shirts, three pairs of jeans, a hat, a belt with lots of compartments, a must-have torch, all in one knife set, a flame-less safety lighter, a camera strap, three-four hard drives, a laptop, a phone, and a tiny toiletries kit and my precious dairy book. That’s all.
Hats off for bringing out your soul:
Congratulate yourself whether you are traveling within your native land or to a foreign culture. Not all people have the courage to step out from their comfort boundaries. The best thing travel photography can do is bring out your soul. On the first morning in a new place I wake up with the sun and get ready as fast as possible to hit the ground running. To know a new place, new people, new cultures morning light is blessed. Whether I am traveling to Sundarban, Bangladesh or the ancient ruins in Rome, Italy, my focus is on discovery. If your photography can discover the secret to enchantment of the place then you can depict your travels accurately through those genuine frames. Shoot the topic you find the most interesting. Shoot something that puts a deep mark in your heart and that will represent the place. Your story will be the invitation from that particular place that will attract anonymous people to visit it. So the rules are:
– Surprise yourself by discovering a new place, a new culture, a new life pattern, different norms or simply different people
– Create your album so that it presents something unique about the topic
– Attract attention
Always be alert and informed:
A new place invites new danger. When you are doing travel photography alone you must be alert about your safety. I have faced a lot of such incidents that would have been life threatening if I had not reacted instantly. Whatever area or country you are visiting try to find out basic safety cautions. Avoid dangerous areas by finding out where they are from locals. Do not always trust taxi drivers. Try to skip night outings alone. If you introduce yourself to a stranger do not give your full information. As a travel photographer you have to be like a dog. You must be able to smell out both danger and images.
Money and food matters:
Make a smart budget. In a new place there are chances to be cheated. I save for several months in order to do travel photography so it is important that I have my expenses broken down in order to help me to meet my budget. If you spend too much unnecessarily then at the end it will affect the quality of your travel experience and spoil your trip. Try to find out where to locate the cheapest but nicest places to stay and eat. Try to stay vigilant and not let people fool you. Invest wisely. And never compromise by not trying local foods. For example, in Nepal my morning starts not with bread but with MoMo the delicious local dumplings. Indulge in these small things which help you to integrate into the culture. Travel photography and the resulting work are never complete if you are not a part of the experience.
Open up to new people – you have heard it more than a thousand times but I am going to add it one more time. First – in the new place, make observations. Second – go a little bit closer by taking random pictures of everything. Third – Start communicating, either with a local vendor, or children or shopkeepers. Start a conversation. Fourth – you will be automatically diverted to the most attractive thing of the spot that holds your attention as an outsider. Fifth – if a particular thing attracts you then spend a long time with it. Slowly but surely the people of the place will start to act normal and will go back to their natural gestures. Remember to look at a place widely and then begin narrowing it down one scene at a time. Finally you will find a beautiful discovery that is worthy of depiction.
Respect the situation. Know about the norms of the place. Learn a few local words to communicate. If you are in Shylet (Bangladesh) you can amuse people with your Shyleti words. If you are in Manila (Philippines) try to do the same. If you do not understand something sensitive, silence is the best way. Be polite when you are shooting women, young girls or teenagers. Never offer money after taking photographs. This is a very bad practice which creates long-lasting problems later. If you want to give something, give a gift. For example, I always carry chocolates for children.
Now go! Feast your eyes:
Travel photography is something that you owe to yourself. If you are a good travel photographer then you know all genres of photography from landscape to street, people to culture. When you are traveling as a photographer try to be a person with whom people want to associate. While doing travel photography I like this attention because this interaction with people helps me to discover a culture and the people more intensively. Remember that you have to be constantly on your feet. I hardly ever take taxis because slow walking is the best discovery machine for which travel photography can be thankful. So let’s walk and start shooting.
Dutch travel photographer Wil Thimister and GMB Akash are going to take ‘A Visual Voyage’–by way of a Travel Photography Workshop 2-9 May. Whether you are a beginner, an enthusiast, or a professional, First Light Institute of Photography is inviting you to join the workshop on a truly amazing photographic adventure. Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in participating. To know more details, visit: http://wp.me/p3F0uP-5W