The Secret To Perfect Travel Shots? - 6/30/08
Check the postcard rack
Ideally, when you're planning your next getaway, you'll get a good idea of where you want to photograph before you leave. Notable locations, scenic overlooks, historic settings-all are common tourist spots no matter where you're traveling. Even if you like to fly by the seat of your pants, a little online investigation before you depart will help you come back with great photos.
But there's one big problem: when you're planning a vacation, there are a million things to think of-from transportation and lodging to food and funding, not to mention those same coordinations for the family members who may be joining you. If you're planning to seriously pursue some photography, now you've got a million and ten other things to think about-from getting the gear safely to your destination, to workflow issues such as downloading, processing and backing up images. The last thing you want to do is look up what you might want to photograph. After all, it's a vacation right? Vacations are supposed to be fun. Even if you wanted to research your destination, you probably wouldn't have the time. Now what?
The best photo research is still within reach. No matter the destination, and no matter when, how or why you'll be traveling, there's a prime location for photo research right along the way. It's not the library or fellow travelers or even friendly locals. What is this magic solution? The postcard rack.
If you're spending a week anywhere from New York to New South Wales, it's all but guaranteed the airports will be full of postcard racks to peruse. A weekend in the mountains? There are bound to be plenty of postcards at that truck stop by the exit. Small town in Nowheresville? Chances are good that the little general store that supplies everything from soup to nuts also has postcards. If there are tourists, there are postcards. And if there are postcards, there's your research.
So what can you learn by browsing a postcard rack? Only everything you might want to know: what vantage points provide ideal views, what time of day is the light just right, not to mention what angles have been done to death. What do you do when the weather's snowy? Or maybe on rainy days? Postcards probably have the answers. What destinations in the area had you not considered? Maybe a postcard will clue you in.
When you've returned from a journey, there's nothing worse than feeling like all your pictures came from the same parking lot as everyone else's. So why not check out some views before you go-or at least once you arrive-that will help you put your own twist on your photos?