Travel Photography Tips From a Presidential Photographer

For anyone not familiar with Pete Souza, he is an incredible photojournalist whose prolific career includes being the photographer for not one, but two presidents (Barack Obama and Ronald Regan). In his tenure as President Obama’s photographer, he took over 1.9 million photos, all of which are currently stored in the National Archives. He recently sat down with the New York Times to discuss all the traveling he did as a presidential photographer and gave tips to those interested in improving their travel photography.

In the eight years that Barack Obama was president, Souza traveled with him to all 50 states of the U.S. as well as over 60 countries. And although that is a ton of travel (it adds up to about 1.5 million miles), Souza admitted he never got to do a lot of exploring while at work documenting the president. “My job was to basically tag along with the president and visually capture the professional and personal moments in his life,” said Souza. He also mentioned that traveling with the president isn’t ideal for capturing great travel photos because he wasn't able to explore while traveling, which is what he loves to do most while capturing pictures abroad.

When asked what type of camera Souza recommends to photographers while traveling, he explained that, in his opinion, the kind of camera is solely based off of what you’d like to do with the photos afterward. He commented that he often uses his iPhone to capture photos while traveling. He suggests that a cell phone can be sufficient to achieve great images, so long as you don’t have plans to have the photos blown up beyond a typical photo print size. He recommends that if you have plans to blow your travel photos up to poster size, that's when a DSLR comes in handy. 

When asked what his advice is for taking great travel shots, he mentioned that timing is key to avoid crowds. “You can take pictures of anything, including landscapes, people, and historical sites, but most tourists are typically out sightseeing from the late morning to mid-afternoon,” said Souza. “The best light for photographing, however, is during the early morning or late afternoon when the sun is lower on the horizon.”

Check out the New York Times article to read more about Souza’s experiences while traveling as a presidential photographer, and to see a sweet travel photo of Souza taken by President Obama himself.

Lead image by via Pexels.

[via New York Times]

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