Picture This

In this fickle world of Facebook updates, Tweets and online albums, travel has become all about the picture. Whether you’re having a great time or not, entire afternoons can be engineered to create envy-inducing photos.

Some people can spend hours hovering around a tripod or returning to the same spot a number of times until the lighting is perfect. These guys are the pros.

Everyone else tends to max out their memorycard at the earliest opportunity. Trigger happy snappers record everything from their breakfast plate to the little mints on their pillow at night. Sometimes you see them twirling around with their finger firmly on the shutter button in ‘multiple shot’ mode. Or wandering around with a video camera permanently attached to their hand.

Eventually, some poor soul is going to have to wade through the waffle to find the pictures that are actually worth keeping. But the odds are in the photographer’s favour. Out of one thousand shots, there will be at least a handful of possible Facebook profile pictures. They may even bother to Photoshop them.

Entire trips are halted by photo opportunities. Strangers get together for fun-loving group shots, and locals smile obediently in the hope of tips. Tour buses stop for hours by the side of the road and curious travellers are forever getting in other people’s way.

Ask any backpacker what they fear losing most, and the camera will be up there. People are terrified of losing their pictures, as if the trip will become invalid without any photographic evidence.

Obviously it would be a tragedy to lose all your pictures, but you came out here for more than ‘Kodak Moments’. The best memories are often left unrecorded, everyone being too swept up in the moment to think to pull out the Lumix. And real adventures often mean leaving your camera at the hotel rather than getting it smashed, soaked, or stolen.

Only take the pictures that catch your eye and bring a journal instead. Travelling is for your benefit after all, not your online network.

Some photography dos and don’ts:

Don’t pay more for fancy modes or heavy lenses if you can’t imagine using them. Remember it’s how you take it, not what you take it with.

Do invest in a good case and attach a wrist or neck strap in case you drop it.

Don’t forget that many people hate getting their photo taken, and you may also cause offense when meeting indigenous, isolated or very religious communities.

Do back up your photos online or on memory sticks and external hard drives. Use a few smaller memory cards rather than one big one.

Don’t be afraid to try new things: lie down on the floor for a whole new angle.

Do look behind you before taking a step back and falling off a pavement/ diving board/ cliff (yes that really does happen).

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