Each person reacts to the challenges and rewards of travel differently. Traditionally, I am not a religious or meditative person, but I am at my most spiritual in far-flung and beautiful locations with a camera in my hand. Read part 1.

Soul

For me, travel photography presents a distinct opportunity to be wowed by the incredible world in which we live. To amplify that effect, I tend to plan excursions that will present unique ecosystems or multi-sensory experiences. Nature is deeply therapeutic, but urban atmospheres can feed my soul as well. When you have a sense of whimsy about your surroundings, your images will certainly benefit, so approach travel with an open mind and a desire to expand your views and understanding of the world.

Plaza Parterre, Madrid, Spain ISO 100; 1/500 sec.; 50mm
Plaza Parterre, Madrid, Spain 1/500 sec. f/5.6 50mm

Location downsides

The sad truth is that not everything you find along your travels will be a feel-good experience. Visiting incredible natural locations can also introduce you to sobering threats to climate, animal well-being, or human rights. Even if you’ve done your research, seeing something firsthand is a far cry from reading about it in the news. You will be affected. Remind yourself that you cannot solve all of the world’s problems yourself, but make a distinct effort to leave everything you touch at least a little better than how you found it. Small acts like volunteering for a few hours to a local cause or carrying out trash you find along the trail will enrich your experience and provide a more balanced journey emotionally.

Small kindnesses

From the time of its inception, photography has been a powerful tool for increased awareness and social change. If you find injustice, endeavor to capture it in a way that also embodies how you feel. Photographers are a huge asset for many nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) aiming to publicize their cause. Research potential partners before you travel to reap the most impact from your journey.

Journal for growth

While I travel, every thought, every musing, every bit of good, bad, and ugly gets recorded in my travel journal. I began my long-standing ritual of travel journaling on a family road trip the summer I turned 12. Looking back on those first journals, it may seem like I was just a kid doodling and listing inconsequential details, but I was launching a lifelong practice of introspection through musings on the road. Throughout my teens and adulthood, from short trips to long journeys, I have found comfort, clarity, and personal development by maintaining a journal. In many ways, keeping a travel journal is a present to your future self. I have been able to track personal and photographic growth, ambition, artistic intention, philosophies, and important stories that might have otherwise been blurred or completely forgotten over the years.

Sunrise at Mer Bleue, Ottawa, Ontario, was a magical experience. As the sun rose and filled the bog, it beautifully illuminated remaining fog and haze. ISO 100; 1/125 sec.; f/6.3; 22mm
Sunrise at Mer Bleue, Ottawa, Ontario 1/125 sec. f/6.3 ISO 100 22mm

Sunrise at Mer Bleue, Ottawa, Ontario, was a magical experience. As the sun rose and filled the bog, it beautifully illuminated remaining fog and haze. I can more effectively tell rich anecdotes and write intuitive articles by going back to my notes, maps, and other saved mementos to relive the details of each adventure. Keeping an effective and useful travel journal is an art of its own. It takes practice and effort, but it will provide valuable background for the images you create on your travels and help capture the meditative state that you feel on the road.

Travel photography is hard work. This series of excerpts from “The Enthusiast’s Guide to Travel Photography” by Jordana Wright is published by Rocky Nook.

See all of the great photographic skills books from Rocky Nook.