Say “cheese” is the international language that every photographer or family snapper uses to get someone to smile for the camera. But is a smile what you need to capture someone perfectly while traveling?
When traveling people meet people, they meet, interact and converse, sometimes for some length of time and at others for merely a moment or two. Portraits of people today do not require the subject to sit for hours or days on end to get the final result. Sometimes a snap, a photograph taken on the spur of the moment, with the sun in the right place, with the setting just right and that natural feeling of “this is the moment” can produce the best travel photographs imaginable. A snap of someone walking to work, working in a field or on the side of the road, someone just sitting outside a coffee shop on a European city pavement can more often than not become the defining photo that sums up an entire visit to a city or even country. There is nothing wrong with this and you have not had to say “say cheese” because the person in the photo does not know they are in it and it is the candid nature of the shot that gives the photo life.
But there are times when you want to stage a photo. A group photo, a group of friends met along the way or maybe some colleagues and it could be so easy to fall into the standard photo trap that becomes a glorified selfie “this me with Joe, Mary and Kate”. Sometimes a little effort, moving a table, a chair or switch a lamp on or off or opening or closing a door can make a selfie something much more professional. An open door may show something going on outside or even at the back of the room in the kitchen perhaps, it shows activity and that the place you are visiting has life. A change of lighting may show a wall with pictures on it or s ceiling with unusual lampshades hanging from it. A change of angle may catch a reflection off a bottle or coffee tap or may widen the shot to create atmosphere. With a little effort a standard, stale group portrait becomes an active scene that has life.
People make travel photographs as much as the places do. Whether the pictures are candid or semi- staged it makes little difference. Even the smallest village has its personality as much as the village or town has too, capturing both is where magic is found and sometimes it just takes patience or a simple step forward, back, to the left or to the right and the gem of a photo is taken and a memory created that will never fade away.