There’s no shortage of videos out there with helpful travel photography tips, but the suggestions often run a bit toward the uninspired (e.g., people should face into the frame). Professional travel photographer Mitchell Kanashkevich has obviously been at it a while, though, and has some insightful advice.
Kanashkevich has been a professional travel photographer for 14 years, working primarily in Africa, Asia, India, the South Pacific, and Eastern Europe. In this great video, Kanashkevich walks us through seven bits of insight he’s gleaned from his many years spent in the field. Two of my favorites are:
The Main Event Is Often not the Main Thing Photographically
One morning at dawn, my wife and I stood in a central African swamp, enamored at the sight of the five-foot tall Shoebill we’d traveled halfway around the world to see. Stuck knee deep in swamp muck (and eyebrow deep in malarial mosquitos), we happened to turn around and glance behind us. There, a small boy from a nearby village stood, watching us watching the Shoebill. He had such a glimmer in his eye and expression of pure joy and innocence on his face that I’ll never forget it. I got some decent pictures of the bird, but the shot of the young boy is one of my all-time favorites. Yet, he wasn’t the “event” we’d come to see. Find some excuse to get out there — a bird, a lodge, a festival, whatever — then wherever you’re headed, shoot the journey, shoot the backstory, shoot the stuff happening on the periphery, the stuff behind you, the stuff that really matters.
Aim to Have the Action on Your Doorstep
Being passionate about the environment, my wife, friends, and I always seem to seek out wild, remote places on our travels. It’s certainly true that you can stay at a hotel in the city, drive out for a few hikes, do a nice safari ride to see the wildlife. You can see tons of cool stuff that way. But in our experience, the magic really happens when you give yourself time to become fully immersed in an environment, to find out what might come check you out if you just sit quietly for a bit in the verdant evening. We heard dolphins blow a few meters from our beach campsite on an uninhabited island in the Gulf, for example; watched a sea turtle dig a nest just off our doorstep on the Great Barrier Reef; listened to hippos grazing a few feet from our bed beside the Nile; stalked white rhinos on foot in the buttery yellow light of a Ugandan evening; and nearly fell over when a cassowary stepped out of the rainforest in front of us in Queensland. Oh, and then there was the time the hoatzin started mating right above our hammocks in the Amazon. None of those would’ve been possible had we stayed “nearby.”
I love one other insight from Kanashkevich’s website: “In the beginning, you work for your images. Once you have enough good images, your images work for you.” Check out many more great tips in the video above!