7 lessons learned from travel and photography

In exactly two days (to the hour, even!), I embark on my next global adventure. This time, I will travel to Europe, to tour and photograph World War One and Two battlefields, military cemeteries, and concentration camps.  I’ve travelled to a lot of places around the world. Everywhere I’ve been is unique, but somehow also very much just like home. I’ve come away from these places with thousands of photos but, more important, 7 lessons learned from travel and photography. This is the first post in a series (hopefully weekly; otherwise this will be a tease until I return from my trip!) talking about each of these lessons.

You can take what I have learned to improve your own photography, and your own experiences in general, whether you are able to travel or not!  If you are a photographer, you might also find this list of photography tips useful.

What has travel and photograph taught you?

Lesson 1: Break the Rules and Expectations

First, Learn the Rules.

Photography, just like any other discipline, has rules. Discovering and practicing these rules, including the theory of correct exposure, are key to becoming a good photographer. Once you’re more experienced, it’s good to continue practicing these rules to improve your photography.

Rules, however, are meant to be broken.

Once you familiar with terms like the rule of thirds, or leading lines, you can make conscious decisions to break them.

Zombie Basketball
My goal on this shoot was to take and edit photo to create a ‘zombie apocalypse’ feel. Taking the shot crooked puts the viewer off kilter and creates (I hope!) feelings of confusion, disorientation… some things one might feel during an apocalypse.
Over Exposed
Sometimes, I like to experiment with over exposing things. It’s not appropriate for editorial or travel photography, but can be a fun effect in art prints. It’s always best to get it right in camera, applying only minor tweaks in post-processing. And experimentation is (usually) not a bad thing.
Autumn Blur
I’ve been the photographer for Broken Leg Theatre for over a year and I love to see dancers come out with colourful costumes. When that happens, I’m definitely going to take a few blurry shots on purpose. It implies motion, of course, but the swaths of colour are even more interesting.



Do not, however, break the rules of the place you are visiting. That will not end well.

Do Not Succumb to Peer Pressure

As you dip your toe into the world of photography, you may feel the need for (or be told you need) all the newest and best gear, a DSLR camera, lights, and more.

The truth is, you don’t need any of that. There are countless examples of amazing photos taken with a simple point and shoot or smartphone.

Lily Lake
I took this photo back in the summer of 2000 with a cheap ($10) point and shoot 35mm. The only option it had was an early film rewind button. This is one of my favourite photos, and an award winner.

I’ll admit, however, that the more expensive cameras give you more flexibility, options, and control. Even if a fancy camera is your endgame, don’t jump right into it. Find a simple camera and work on your composition skills. While you’re doing that, research cameras and set-ups. By the time you make the purchase, you’ll have a better idea of what you want it to do,  and can make a better purchasing decision on that. When you finally make the purchase, you can concentrate on mastering the more technical aspects of exposure techniques and lighting because you’ve already become proficient with composition.

Prove Them Wrong

If I listened to all the news reports, and all the people around me, I would be too paranoid to even leave my house, let along explore the world! But home is a pretty scary place, too – all those stairs to fall down, bathtubs to drown in, and electrical outlets to catch fire.

Morning Date
Istanbul, Turkey, September 2015.

Don’t be stupid, though. Do your research, separate the truth from the propaganda and fear. Be street smart and follow your instincts. Come back with amazing photos and stories that will make them wish they’d gone with you.

7 Lessons Learned from Travel and Photography

Check back each week to find out what else travelling has taught me!

  1. Break the Rules and Expectations
  2. 5th April
  3. 12th April
  4. 19th April
  5. 26th April
  6. 3rd May
  7. 10th May

Would you like to help make future adventures a little easier? Maybe get a little photography in return? I’d love to have you join me over on Patreon! You can also check out my eBay store.  I appreciate your support!

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