Tips for better travel photographs

I am so grateful that it has been a particularly good 12 months for me in terms of travel. We receive what we ask for and no less than a month after I posted this, we made plans to visit Europe, Bali and Noosa and I had weddings booked across the state. Travelling is always amazing but photographing our life while experiencing life in other cultures and countries is a constant source of inspiration for me and I can’t tell you how much it enriches my life.

If I am travelling for work, all of my professional equipment comes with me but if we’re going on a holiday I prefer to travel light and will bring the absolute minimum that I need. Its because of this need that I have tried to be methodical with my travel photography and have a plan before I even jump on the plane and I thought I’d share some tips with you for you to use in your own travel photography. Its not about the camera you have, but how you see the world and how you choose to capture it.


1. Choose your weapon

Depending on the trip, I will firstly choose the medium I want to photograph with. It is usually a choice between my DSLR, Mamiya 645 or 35mm cameras. There are a multitude of reasons why I would choose one medium over the other but generally, if I want access to the photos immediately (often for the blog), I will choose to shoot digitally but with often supplement it with some 35mm film black and whites.

I have my eye on another much lighter digital option that I will hopefully buy later this year but for now my preferred digital option when travelling is a Canon 5D MIII and a 50mm 1.4 lens as the lens is wide enough for a landscape but is perfect for close up details too. The f/1.4 lens is much lighter than the f/1.2 (a big factor when sightseeing and walking all day) and I don’t need the wider aperture for travel photographs. Where ever you’re going, think of what you’re going to be photographing and bring the gear you will need including your accessories such as batteries, chargers, film, memory cards and a hard drive to download files to as back up if you’re travelling for a while.


2. Always be ready

Being prepared will help you photograph your journey from start to finish which is always a good way to go. When we travel I have my camera in a large tote bag with my other necessities that I take with me on the airplane or in the car. This means I have a camera at the ready to take a photograph immediately rather than dig around in my camera bag, find a memory card and put on a lens and lose the moment. Whether you’re driving in a car or travelling in a plane, documenting those moments of actual travel will help give your travel story a beginning and an end. In New Zealand we spent most of our time driving so I photographed moments during that trip that added to the story such as Ben sleeping in the car, a few rest stops as we stretched our legs and lunch breaks and some tourist stops of lakes and rivers. It helps that I have an amazing husband who does most of the driving and will stop at a moments notice for me to take a photograph of something that catches my eye, but its important to have your eyes peeled and your camera ready to take advantage of every moment.


3. Photograph the details to help tell a story

I naturally gravitate towards details as a photographer rather than overall photojournalistic photographs and you can see it a lot in my travel photographs. A cup of coffee in a restaurant. A cluster of palm trees and blue skies. A table of food that represents where you are in the world. A punnet of strawberries that tells you immediately it is summer. It is true that a picture tells a thousand words and when you start to put together your photographs as a collection, these details will help remember your travels and make things a little more interesting when you share them with friends and family. Photographing things such as language, currency, decor and of course food are great ways to document a location but it is important to also have context.


4. Document your accommodations

Maybe its just me, but I will often photograph our home away from home while we are travelling. We’ve usually gone to a lot of effort in choosing the perfect location for us to stay and I want to remember it just as much as any other part of the holiday. Just taking a little time to photograph some details in your accommodation will always be something you’ll look back fondly on.


5. Less is more

This is a huge tip for travel photography as the biggest problem most of us have is having thousands of photographs that we need to wade through when we get home. As beautiful as that sunset is, you really don’t need 20 photos of it. As momentous as the Eiffel Tower is, just a few photographs will do. Taking more photographs will only take up space on your roll of film or your hard drive and at the end of the day create more work for you in having to choose which one of the identical photographs is the best. While you want to always be ready, when photographing your holiday try to be strategic and pause before you take a photograph. Is it a good subject? Does it help tell the story of your holiday? Where is the focus in the image? You can turn your snapshots into photographs with a little forethought and selectiveness and make your life when editing them when you return home much easier. I think this is why I love shooting film, especially black and whites, while travelling as I have a limited number of photographs I can take so I have to slow down and be intentional.


6. Move things and move yourself

Don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone to create moments by stylising your surrounding environment. I’ve become unapologetic now in moving things to get a better photograph as a wedding photographer and this has also come into my travel photography. If you’re photographing a meal, move the cutlery or napkins or drinks to compose a more appealing photograph. So long as you put things back where they belong or ask permission if need be, most people don’t have a problem with you doing this. Likewise, if the photograph just isn’t doing it for you, move your feet to find another angle or perspective and look up and down rather than just straight ahead. You might just find a new perspective that is even better.


7. Get in front of the camera

Its a pretty depressing moment when you look back on years of photographs and realise that there are less than a handful with you – the photographer. I know its not always something we, as women want, but more than that I want to look back on our travels and not just say I was there, but to show I was there. We started a tradition about 3 years ago to take a group portrait at some stage on our trip where I’d set up the camera on top of something (usually the car) and use a self-timer for a quick portrait. I now love these photos of us from each trip and I treasure them so much. I’ve also started handing the camera over to someone else travelling with me, to take a few photos of me. Nothing fancy but something in situ like walking on the beach or around a museum. Something just for me.

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I hope these tips help you in your own travel photography but if you have any questions or tips of your own, I’d love to hear from you.

15 things I know now …

The past year has been incredibly defining for me in my personal life and by extension, by career. I have taken chances, listened to my heart and in the process met new friends and been a part of experiences I never thought possible. It is an incredibly private and profound journey but is all thanks to one particular friend for helping me take one small step last year, towards a life that I never knew was possible.

Most of all I have a sense of peace and confidence within me that I feel comes with age and this journey I have been on and all of a sudden I feel I have the permission to do what makes me happy – which is not necessarily what others expect. Its a little confronting to feel this way at first but I am learning to embrace it. I am continuing to educate myself in all kinds of genres. I am pushing myself to get out of the house and nurture my relationships because I know how important they are. I have made the decision to nurture my body through good food and (gasp!) regular exercise. Everyday I sit here, listen to music and read something that will help me continue to grow and nourish my soul. I hunger to see more of the world and continue to learn about other cultures and traditions to keep learning. Learning. I keep coming across this word as I think about what is important to me at this time in my life.

After watching this amazing documentary last week, I’ve begun to think more about my legacy and what it is that people will say about me when I am no longer here. Its been on my mind for a while as I realised earlier this year that  there is not much of a visual record of me. There is a visual record of what I see through my lens, but not much of me. This is one of the reasons I am trying to put myself in front of the camera more because for so long I let my insecurities be the loudest voice in the room and tell me not to. I love looking through my mothers collection of photographs of her life and it made me sad to think my children or grandchildren may not have that when looking at my life. In the past year I have clung to the truth that I am wonderfully made and I am no less special (or more special) than any other person in the room and I should be documented.

For the past few years I’ve done a little birthday post but this year as I was surprisingly whisked away for a weekend with my husband, I completely forgot about it. So while I was thinking about it, I thought I’d share things I know now that I didn’t know in my 20’s that make the world a better place and hopefully me a better person.

15 things things I know now … that I wish I knew 15 years ago

  1. Nothing is as bad as you think it is. Take a deep breath and keep moving.
  2. You get out of your relationships what you put in. Make time for your friends – even if you think you have no time available.
  3. When a door closes, a window does open. That missed opportunity was not for you and it is up to you to see the next one and take the next step.
  4. Make time for yourself for your health, your sanity and your spirit – no matter how selfish it feels at first. You are a better person when you take care of you first.
  5. Giving is much better than receiving. Giving to people who truly need it is reward in itself.
  6. Choose quality over quantity and invest your time and money in experiences that make your soul richer.
  7. Follow your dreams. They can and will become your reality if you work hard enough.
  8. Go with your instincts. They will always be right – even if it doesn’t seem like it at first.
  9. Be kind to people and try not to judge because not everyone had the advantages you have had in life.
  10. Never stop learning. Once you stop learning, you stop growing. And if you’re not growing, you’re decaying.
  11. Life is too short for bad champagne. Drink it to celebrate all of life’s amazing moments – not only the big ones.
  12. Push yourself outside of your comfort zone in life and business and take calculated risks, not chances. If you want something to change, you have to do something you’ve never done before.
  13. Less is always better than more.
  14. Everything in moderation. Too much of a good thing is as detrimental as too much of a bad thing.
  15. And lastly, in the words of Betty Draper (and my mother), only boring people get bored. Get out there and live your life without reservation.

Cable Beach Wedding – Chloe and Hilly

Chloe walked behind Hilly, up and down sand dunes, always on the look out for snakes. Hilly had found a private spot along Cable Beach for them to watch the sunset one last time as they were travelling back home the following day and while Chloe admits she’d have rather sat in the sunset bar at Cable Beach Club and watch the camels pass by, she trusted his enthusiasm and they eventually came across a clearing with a view of the famous beach and the equally famous sunset.

As they sat on the beach with not another soul to be seen, watching the sun slowly change colours and fall beyond the horizon, Hilly poured a glass of wine for them both.  He waited for the perfect moment in this already beautiful scene and the dropped to one knee and asked Chloe to be his. Forever.

I was delighted to visit Broome last month to photograph Chloe and Hilly’s beautiful wedding back at the location where they became engaged two years before and we could not have asked for a better day. With such mild weather and the most beautiful light as the sun began to set, it was a magical day.

Wedding Gown & Veil : Loui Col Designs // Mother of the Bride gown : Loui Col Designs // Bridesmaid Gown : George // Florals : Broome Florist // Rentals : Broome Party Hire // Cake Artist : Bent on Cakes Broome // Entertainment : Notch8 Entertainment // Videographer : Shannon Stent Images // Ceremony & Reception Venue : Cable Beach Club

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Gratefulgrams – Autumn 2014

Instagram and social media can be tricky at times. I am aware that it is a highlight reel of moments in a person’s life and not necessarily the reality of every day life but there are times when I look at a person’s feed and start to feel inadequacy. Inadequate that my feed isn’t as beautiful as theirs or that I haven’t anything to contribute that day that is wow worthy. This is the sign that I need to put my phone down and walk away for a while and remember what is important in my life.

My Instagram feed is a highlight reel but it is moments in my life that I am grateful to have. The moments aren’t manufactured but instead I like to think of it as my version of a polaroid – taking an instant snapshot of something in my life that I want to remember. Genuine moments that celebrate something beautiful or that has meaning for me and makes me thankful for my life. A delicious breakfast. A new pair of shoes. A flourishing garden. A banana plantation in our backyard (what a surprise that was!). Drinks and a movie with a friend. A healthy puppy after a worrying couple of weeks. It may not garner hundreds of likes but I have to remember why I chose to share that moment with the world rather than why people aren’t patting me on the back and stroking my ego.

It makes me wonder if my grandchildren will be looking through a digital feed of Instagram to know who I was and what I did rather than looking through a box of photographs.

And so in the spirit of one of my favourite bloggers, I will continue to be grateful for the moments in my life that are mine and no one else’s with my Gratefulgrams for the past couple of months over autumn and as we come into winter.


LUXE @ LAMONTS – A Perth Pop Up Wedding

I am so pleased to announce that after a hugely successful Pop Up Wedding held on 2nd June at Chapel Farm, we’ve come together to put on another amazing Pop Up Wedding at Lamont’s Bishop House on the Queens Birthday weekend in September 2014 – Luxe @ Lamont’s.

At the Chapel Farm wedding, we (The Butcher, The Baker, The Stylist & Creator, Dru Soltys and myself) were given free reign to conceptualise and deliver the day to the couples getting married however the administration was run through a third party that is based in QLD. We found that as a team we worked extremely well together and had such great feedback but in going forward, having the day facilitated from Perth was more beneficial to brides and grooms and to us. So we are pleased to say that the Perth Pop Up Wedding was born as its own and entirely independent entity that will continue to provide a beautiful space for couples to marry in privately and in style.

The Pop Up Wedding is a unique opportunity for stylish couples to tie the knot with a handful of friends, a fantastic celebrant, amazing styling and beautiful photos to remember the day. All within an hour and for a fraction of the cost of a traditional wedding! We like to think of it as a registry wedding with a little more style and a whole lot of heart. I can’t even begin to tell you the wonders that The Butcher, The Baker, The Stylist & Creator has in store for the ceremony locations for our Luxe @ Lamont’s concept and they are working again with Blossom & Thorn to provide each bride with a mini bouquet for their wedding and beautiful blooms throughout the ceremony locations.

So whether you want to elope, renew your vows or have a civil commitment ceremony I encourage you to head over to Perth Pop Up Wedding to find out more details and book your space for the day as they are filling up fast and only a limited number of bookings available. After your ceremony why not walk into the city for cocktails and a meal and celebrate becoming husband and wife? We can’t think of a more stylish way to elope.