Five Tips for the Traveling Photographer

Yesterday, I read a great little article by Real Simple called 10 Things Every Traveler Should Do. After thinking about the ins-and-outs of being a travel photographer, I decided to write a blog post for the traveling photographer in you. These tips are relevant whether you’re an expert photographer or novice, or whether you’re traveling to a tropical island, main city, or remote village.

{All the images seen below are from my recent excursion to Delhi, India and taken during a 2 hour window of time. I hope you enjoy.}

5 tips for the traveling photographer

1. Let jet lag become your friend.
Say what!? I mean it. Instead of lying awake at 4am, staring at your ceiling fan, get moving! Explore the streets with your camera while rarely-seen, early-morning life happens. Not only is the light buttery and soft, but you are bound to see something that few other travelers will see.

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street scene in Delhi India travel photographer

2. Walk the city with your camera or take the local transport.

Where I’d never recommend walking down a dark alley where you might not feel comfortable, there are some incredible things to see and photograph when you get off the main strip. Sometimes (okay, most often) that means walking down that little side street or taking the unbeaten path. This first image was captured off the main road in the old city, where life was a little calmer, and there was a chance to really take my time photographing people.
Plus, I found the BEST chapatti (flat Indian bread) from an outdoor vendor that sticks the bread to the walls of a clay oven beneath him. I would have never otherwise experienced this little piece of heaven if I didn’t let myself roam.

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3. Get low.
As you are on foot, noticing and observing life around you, don’t just snap scenes from the same angle. Physically getting lower to the ground can help create a more intimate image, even on a busy street.

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4. Shoot from the hip (or higher) to get something unique.
If you really want to capture something different, try shooting from your waist or above your head. Photographing from your waist will ensure you don’t disrupt real life moments. Nothing says “stop what you’re doing and smile for the camera” like a big lens pointed right at you. Shooting from your waist can help avoid loosing the realness of your scene as people carry on in a normal fashion. It may take a few tries to get it right, but usually worth the effort. Shooting from above your head might seem silly, but I have come to love the results. This technique really gives a unique perspective, and allows you, as the photographer to get an image that you might not have otherwise thought to capture. Take this scene for instance. From the perspective of my rickshaw, I had very limited visibility, but from over-head, I was able to capture a typical Delhi street scene from a unique vantage point.

travel photographer Delhi India

5. Tell a story or find a theme.
Drinking chai is a quintessential part of life for most Indians. It happens often, and it happens pretty much anywhere. Capturing a few images during my walk that relates to the making and enjoyment of chai lends for a nice story to fully capture this part of Indian culture. If possible, shoot a diversity of imagery, ranging from wide angles to close details. It helps your audience feel more connected and have a better understanding of these real life moments. Don’t be afraid to interact and ask for portraits too.

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Don’t be rude. Respect the culture. Although I would like to think this little bonus tip would go without saying, you’d be surprised. On a recent trip to Nepal, I was walking around the famous Boudhanath (Boudha) stupa, when I noticed a very interesting thing happen right in front of me. An elderly Tibetan nun was doing her circumambulations around the stupa (holy, prayerful walk in a clockwise direction) when a young tourist came up to her face with his camera and snapped a photo. There was no interaction, no asking of permission, and no thank you afterwards. As I was thinking how rude this was, the scenario that followed was priceless. As the young guy happily walked off, obviously pleased with his new photo, the old woman shot her walking cane up in his direction as if trying to whack him with it. She was so displeased that she kept trying to catch up with him, despite her slow limp, and continued to wave her cane in protest. The young man was clueless.


//Keep this discussion going. I’d love to hear if this information was helpful or if you have any travel photography questions or suggestions you would like to share. Feel free to comment below.//

Instagram in India

As a professional photographer, keeping my creative juices flowing is a constant necessity AND a beautiful privilege. While in India, I feel like a kid in a candy shop, constantly over stimulated by the barrage of colors and textures and cultural nuances. While I generally have my trusty Nikons with me, I have really been enjoying keeping my creative brain waves active by just snapping imagery of everyday life using my good ole iphone.

Search for PWATTSPHOTO to follow my journey on Instagram in India.

Travel street photographer in India


Refugee Status. A Documentary Project for Tibet

Tibetan refugees, India, Tibet, Documentary Photographer, Current Affairs, Culture

“Being clear about what we’re doing and why is the first step in doing it better. If you’re not happy about the honest answer to this question, make substantial changes until you are.” Seth Godin. Jan 15, 2013

Not a day goes by when I don’t have the extreme privilege of hearing stories of young Tibetans fleeing the Chinese government’s occupation of their land. The stories are shocking, filled with bravery, a fight for freedom and many times, end in tragedy.  Just today, a friend of mine told me his story of crossing the Himalayan Mountains (as they all do in order to get to India). He told me of being captured by the Chinese government the first 3 times he tried to escape, put in prison and then returned him to his home. The fourth and final time, he travelled for multiple weeks over the mountains, with some dying along the way. Food runs out, the temperatures are freezing, there are unmarked paths with dangerous cliffs. One young man fell to his death during their journey.

I want to help. This has inspired me to start a documentary project of these young adults, coming from Tibet, as refugees, holding on to their culture, learning for the first time about their country’s history (as it is mostly banned in Tibet to learn of their own history), all the while trying to embrace their new surroundings in India, separated from their families and from the way of life they’re accustomed to. A beautiful mixture of tradition and modern appeals. Starting a new life…. with “Refugee Status”.

This is the first image of the series.

(Sengye, shown above, is a young Tibetan man from the Amdo region of Tibet. He wears a traditional fur hat and necklace, identifying him as Amdo. He was raised in a nomadic family (as most are in that region), breeding yaks, sheeps and goats. He fled Tibet on the same night of his father’s return from being imprisoned by the Chinese government for 14 years. They didn’t see each other.)

Please feel free to share your thoughts, input and comments.

Himalayan Imagery

Himalayan Imagery

Recently, I got to hike with some beautiful people through the Himalayan Mountains, seeing spectacular views, culture, and wildlife. There were chai and dahl shops along the way to rest and enjoy the scenery, but the best part was making it to our final destination at snow-line and basking in the views. We came across nomadic goat herders along the way, who were gracious enough to allow me to photograph them and ask questions, literally hiking through goat poop in order to do so.

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nomadic sherpa tents Himalayan Mountains trekking

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Sharing a morning cup of chai with our host in the Himalayas. We spent the night under his tent which doubles as his home, shop and kitchen. It was magical.



The Taj Majal India

The Taj Majal India

Nick and I had the incredible pleasure of visiting the Taj Mahal again. Despite the incredibly offensive heat (about 45C or 115F), we had a great time exploring and visiting this “wonder of the world“.

Of course, as a photographer, I am always intrigued to get another opportunity to shoot images for my stock portfolio as well as think creatively for different shots, since, lets face it, every photographer who has been to the Taj, has taken the famous reflection shot. It’s hard not to though. The Taj is a very symmetrical building, with great consideration by Mughal emperor Shah Jahanin in all its fine intricacies, and this is one of them. The reflection shot proves this nicely as well as frames a nice image of the front of the mausoleum.

Hope you enjoy the photos! THANKS!

Taj Mahal travel photographer clear sky stock photo
Luckily, the sky parted for some nice contrast and interest in the clouds.

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reflection image of Taj Mahal photographer