(Editor’s note: Photofocus is pleased to announce a partnership with Rocky Nook. Rocky Nook publishes great books about photography by photographers. Coming soon we’ll be featuring excerpts from “The Enthusiast’s Guide to Multi-Shot Photography” by Alan Hess. Stay tuned!)
After my trip to Ireland last summer, I didn’t want to stop traveling. Since then, I’ve been traveling to places like Las Vegas and Toronto. And I wish I would have read Jordana Wright’s book, “The Enthusiast’s Guide to Travel Photography” before then.
There’s a lot that goes into traveling, and when you add photography into the mix it can get rather complicated. Wright, who has been published in publications like The New York Times, tells you everything you need to know, based on her experience as a travel and food photographer based in Chicago.
Wright gives readers 55 photography principles they can take on their next trip, discussing topics like trip planning, gear and equipment, finding the details and exploring the human element. She provides stunning photographs from her travels around the world, as well as some back at home.
Travel tips to get you going
What I love about “The Enthusiast’s Guide to Travel Photography” is that it walks you through your travel process. It helps you plan out your trip, suggesting different resources to get you a step-up on finding those must-see photography spots. Wright also gives some great background stories, like how she took a job as a preschool portrait photographer and applied those same principles to creating consistent photographs while on-the-road. She relates it back to the reader, in this case, suggesting to:
“If you’re planning on doing some street photography on your travels, go to a busy place near home and practice shooting quickly to capture passing moments. Practice shooting from the hip. Practice holding your breath during longer handheld exposures. Just practice. Create similar shooting conditions and work out the kinks at home. When the pressure is on and you’re working with limited time in a location, you’ll be glad you did.”
Wright also discusses the benefits and challenges of traveling with other photographers, allowing you to gain new insight and ideas, while observing another photographer’s artistic process.
What’s great about “The Enthusiast’s Guide to Travel Photography” is that while it’s certainly a photography book, it’s every bit of a travel book as well. If you have a spouse or other family and friends traveling with you, they’d benefit from Wright’s tips as well (maybe minus the camera lingo).
One of the biggest challenges about traveling is working around uncontrollable conditions, also known as “people.” Wright tackles topics like this head-on, offering options to join them, wait them out or “find greener pastures.” She discusses using long exposure techniques to blur them out of the image and goes as far as to suggest stacking 10-20 images to create a composite where you can edit out the other tourists. But what was maybe most inspiring was the suggestion to simply move:
“On a visit to Mount Rushmore for golden hour, I was stuck in a massive line of wait- ing cars to reach the monument. I knew that the light wouldn’t wait, so I kept driving. First I found an unexpected perspective of Mount Rushmore, which I quickly photographed, before moving on and discovering an incredible overlook with a view of Black Hills National Forest. By choosing to abandon the lines and crowds, I lucked into several photographs that have become favorites in my portfolio.”
Tips like this might be straightforward and simple, but when you’re at the location, it’s often not thought about. Wright continues discussing topics like bad weather, boring light and racing the clock. She also goes as far as talking about how to shoot through glass — handy whether you’re driving around or up in a tall skyscraper.
Despite the planning that Wright provides, what inspired me the most was her ability to dive in to specific types of photography — particularly landscape, people, lifestyle, wildlife and urban photography:
“As you soak it all in, remind yourself why you came and what you want to see or feel or capture. Once you’ve acclimated to the destination’s energy, give yourself permission to play and explore. Look up, look down, look underneath. Follow your whims. Seek the unique. Make yourself an expert of your surroundings. If you’re in a state or national park, read the map, read the brochure, read the signs. Understand what makes this place special, not only to you, but geologically, eco- logically, and culturally.”
In the case of diving into types of photography, Wright gives suggestions on what gear to bring, what to look out for and how to bring uniqueness to a photograph. In her landscape section, she goes as far as to break it up into categories — woods, sea, snow, desert, mountains and more.
Wright also spends an entire section on capturing the details, showing how to capture things like patterns from up close and afar:
“Patterns can present a new way of looking at something that many would dismiss as ordinary. They exist in light and shadow and often feature important cultural motifs that will help support a sense of place in your images.”
If nothing else, Wright’s images are some of the most inspiring travel images I’ve seen. And by showing how to capture similar images, it makes for a really helpful read in terms of instruction is concerned.
Putting it all together
While not a huge focus in her book, I can really appreciate Wright’s last section in the book, titled “Home Again.” I don’t often see photography books — especially travel photography books — instruct you on what you should do once your back on home soil. She answers the question of, “What now?,” drawing from her own travel experiences.
Wright gives Lightroom tips and tricks to make for a more inspiring photograph, and does a nice job of explaining the core functions of the program without diving in too deep. Talking about things like series and collections, allowing you to combine your photos in a grid that you can then print out, really elevates the book.
“The Enthusiast’s Guide to Travel Photography” takes what we know and love about photography and brings in travel principles. It’s a wonderful read, providing some great quick tips along the way for readers to take with them on their next journey. The images are inspiring and do a fantastic job of showing the principles. And while its focus is on travel photography, the book’s principles can really be applied to everyday shooting as well.