Stranger In A Strange Land

When we travel, either to the other side of the world or to the other side of the country, making good people pictures can be a rewarding experience. Yes, that experience comes with some challenges, but it’s pictures of people that make slideshows and web galleries come alive. Strong portraits, pictures with impact, can also be showstoppers on websites and, of course, in photo galleries. What’s more, these photographs can give a personality to a location by capturing the local customs.

Yes, these pictures were taken in an exotic location. Yes, you can use these photo philosophies wherever you shoot, even if it’s in your neighborhood.

In this article, I’ll share some of my favorite photo philosophies for making meaningful pictures of people you meet on your travels. To illustrate these photo philosophies, I’ll share some favorite pictures from my December 2013 trip to Myanmar—which, by the way, was one of my favorite travel experiences of all time, mostly due to the people who I met and photographed.

1 | Respect The Subject. No matter where you go, respecting the subject is important if you want the subject to respect and accept you. We need to keep that in mind at all times.

This young woman, wearing sunscreen and makeup made from the bark of a tree, was selling bamboo products on the side of a road that led to about 1,000 ancient stupas near Inle Lake. As soon as I saw her face, I knew I had to make a portrait. Like you, and like all of us, I’m drawn to certain faces, some more than others.

After asking her, through my guide, if I could photograph her, and after she accepted, I asked her to move just a bit so that she was positioned against a relatively plain background and in soft light.

2 | The Camera Looks Both Ways. While I was photographing her, I kept an old photo adage in mind: The camera looks both ways. In picturing the subject, we’re also picturing a part of ourselves. In other words, we’re mirrors: the mood, the feeling and the emotion that we project are all reflected in the subject’s face and eyes. I was acting rather seriously, which generated a rather serious expression.

I shot with my Canon 25-105mm IS lens set at 105mm and chose an aperture of ƒ/7 to blur the background.

Leave a Comment