WHEN A PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHER TAKES A VACATION
Here are the some of the things a professional photographer thinks about when he/she takes a vacation.
Camera or no camera? I’ve actually gone on some trips and left my camera equipment behind. This usually has occurred after a particularly intense time with a lot of photo shoots, image workflow, client meetings, and logistical issues. I call it “shutter finger fatigue.” I’m just tired of taking pictures and would just enjoy some “chillaxin,” as my daughter calls it.
Away time doesn’t have to be without photos. After all, grab shots are always available using my smartphone’s camera. Who cares how good they are? And, if I don’t feel like taking pictures at all, others in my group readily assume that role.
It’s hard to turn off your glancing eye. Photographers are natural observes. Everywhere I look I see something interesting. Since I’m a portrait photographer I find compelling people wherever I go. Young and old, beautiful or not, passive or animated, my mind naturally clicks into inquiry mode. How could I tell this person’s story in a photograph? As an architectural photographer with a background in landscape photography, I continuously see interesting scenes that include buildings, gardens, flowers, and landscapes that I know would make great photos.
I could just “snap” a photo of a person or a building with my cell phone but that’s not me. When I’m serious about creating something remarkable, my process is much more thoughtful. And I feel empowered to be able to create a dynamic image if I have access to my professional camera gear.
When I go on vacation, I edit my rolling camera bag with multiple camera bodies and lenses down to a backpack acquired several years ago when I was on assignment in Paris. I pack one camera body and three prime lenses. Even though most of my architectural photo work is done on a tripod, I forego bringing it and force myself to shoot handheld at higher shutter speeds to avoid out of focus or blurry pictures.
Professional photographers who take pictures on vacation can be annoying for everyone else in the group if they are constantly waiting for a photo to be set up and taken. If we’re on a hike I try to be highly discriminating in my photo choices to avoid holding up everyone’s progress. I stop for only the most interesting visual opportunities while passing on others. I may make a mental note to come back later when I’m alone.
To be the most respectful of others, I set aside some personal time during the day to shoot. It could be a few minutes or a couple of hours when others are engaged in some other activity.
Architectural Photography. For the last couple of years, my wife and I have been vacationing with friends at a resort near San Jose del Cabo, Mexico. it’s a welcome respite from the long cold gray winter to go to a warm, color, place by the sea. San Jose is situated in Baja California part of an area known as Los Cabos. Los Cabos and its largest city, Cabo San Lucas was created as a tourist area by the Mexican government in 1974. Unlike its modern neighbor, San Jose dates back to the 1700’s. It’s eclectic mix of old and new create an authentic Mexican feeling.
The town is characterized by adobe style buildings that include wood beamed ceilings and ceramic tile details. An irregular pattern of cobblestone or asphalt covered narrow streets snake out from a large central plaza. For a Minneapolis commercial photographer like me who shoots a lot of exterior architecture, the photo opportunities are almost endless.
Lifestyle Photography. Art Walk is held every Thursday evening in San Jose. On these nights merchants, bars, and restaurants stay open late and the plaza fills with artist booths and tables of jewelry, pottery, and souvenirs. Both vehicular and foot traffic stop when street dancers and others present short performances. People photography with the opportunity to create casual portraits are everywhere and almost everyone is willing and enthusiastic.
We stay at Las Ventanas al Paraiso. Designed by HKS Architects over 20 years ago, this stunning architectural project is a visual delight. It sets an international high standard in hotel architecture.
Hospitality Architectural Photography. From HKS Architect’s web site: “Blurring the line between indoors and out, the HKS-led design team took its cues from the site’s natural surroundings on the Sea of Cortez’s white sand beaches and mountainous desert elements. Stairs, bridges and curving paths connect low-rise, angular buildings with white stucco walls. The suites’ full-height doors of wood and glass frame expansive ocean views. The 18-acre property responds to regional influences found along the Pacific Coast of Baja California Sur as its five dozen suites seamlessly melt into the sloping terrain. Each guest suite focuses on water for sight, sound and feel, creating a guest experience of complete escape and exclusivity.”
Wandering around the property exposes a photographer like me to countless angles, views, and details begging to photographed. Different elevations are connected by grand staircases, flora abound, and the scale varies from grand to intimate.
Portrait Photography. Taking pictures of my wife and friends can also be challenging. Mostly, it seems, we end up in the typical grip and grin pose like we all see other photos of friends and family on vacation. It takes a special mind set and a process similar but different that business head shots. First of all, it’s important to tell someone in advance that you want to take their picture. If you spring it on them and try to make the headshots look candid, they’ll almost always protest. They’ll tell you their hair needs to be washed or they feel sweaty, aren’t wearing make-up, or are wearing something “Schlepy.”
Once I’ve announced my intentions and gotten agreement, then my regular process of taking pictures of people kicks in. I take time, keep it relaxed and real, and make it fun.
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