When you’re not a photographer – but are lucky enough to be traveling with one – there are lots of ways you can help bring home great photos of your trip. The five tips below may seem like common sense, but believe me when I say I learned them the hard way. Kudos to my photographer husband, who put up with his fair share of complaining that we were behind schedule and really needed to get going. I did eventually learn that taking good photos takes time, and the results are worth it.
1. Allow time for photography when planning your itinerary.
It takes time to find, visualize, and set up a great photo (or 200) so when planning your trip, factor in that time. Practically speaking, that means having a more flexible schedule, since you likely won’t be able to script exactly when the photo opportunities are going to present themselves. And, if part of your trip includes driving in the Italian countryside, allow more time to get from A to B so you have time to stop.
2. Be patient.
To get the photo above, we scouted out the area (the countryside near San Gimignano) the day before, then got up at dawn so the light would be right. My husband traipsed around in the field of wheat for a couple of hours before he was satisfied with the results, and then realized he’d dropped his cell phone at some point during the shoot. We then spent another hour looking for a cell phone in a giant field of wheat, with no luck. (I actually was not patient during this episode but it’s a good example of where I should have been!)
3. Keep an eye on the equipment.
It’s helpful if photographers can leave the camera bag with you and not have to worry about someone grabbing it while they’re taking pictures.
4. Leave the photographer alone
Sometimes they just need to think and focus, so the best thing to do is leave them be for awhile. I carry a sketch book with me, and it doesn’t matter that I think I can’t draw, because I throw away the sketches anyway. But the act of trying to draw something means I’m forced to pay more attention to it, which in turn means I remember it much better than I otherwise would. I once sketched the Siena cathedral while my husband was trying to unobtrusively follow around a bride and groom (photo below) who had just emerged from the church. You could also write in a journal, read your guidebook, study Italian, take your own photographs, carry a watercolor set.
5. Be the photographer’s assistant
Help with set up; test the off-camera flash; hold the reflector; act as a test subject; clean up the background; carry the camera bag.
All photos by Sanjay
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