A long exposure photograph through an aperture of cave in Retiro Gardens, Madrid

How Travelling Empowers Your Photography

I have often discussed how travelling is not a fundamental requirement for a street photographer. Indeed, it is possible to find constant inspiration in your native city without spending a staggering amount of money on exotic trips around the globe. Even if you had to stand by the very same corner for days, you would never make the very same photograph, probably. This is because cities are always changing, people are different one from the other and their actions change depending on their feelings.

Even though travelling is not a must-do in street photography, it can empower and enrich you incredibly. As a result, you might build a better and more solid portfolio.

I would like to share with you some reasons that make travelling a great way to invest your money in order to improve your photography.

 

It Forces You Out Your Comfort Zone

A long exposure photograph through an aperture of cave in Retiro Gardens, Madrid

Madrid, 2015

As I mentioned before, you can stand by your favourite corner in your home town and make street photographs. However, this approach to the genre will not help you improving.

I have experienced that the most efficient way to get better at something is doing something in a way that is difficult for you. This forces you to get more creative and to find innovative ways to overcome the new hurdles. Overall, your mind becomes more flexible and reactive and your photographs benefit from it enormously.

Travelling is a great way to make yourself uncomfortable. Firstly, you will be visiting a new city or country, which means that you do not know what to expect before hitting the streets. Therefore, your senses will be much more awaken to perceive any interesting situation around you. Secondly, you might not know the local language. This means that you should communicate with others using gestures, your eyes and the few words you might have learnt from a tourist guide. This is an incredibly important skill for photographers. In my opinion, photographers should be able to establish a connection with the person they would like to photograph in the shortest and most spontaneous fashion possible. Finally, everything will be new to you. You can approach the streets with the eyes of a child, prone to be impressed by anything and anyone.

 

It Opens Your Mind

A street photograph of a man looking at a book stall in Rome

Rome, 2015

Travelling abroad makes you more open-minded. In my opinion, this is one of the most important characteristics to be a good individual as well as a good photographer. Being able to accept others, their cultures, their differences and peculiarities enable you to photograph your subject’s real nature.

Too often we are not able to create a real connection with the subject before our camera. In this instance, we end up photographing our subject’s mask rather that its inner nature. The resulting photograph might even be well composed and interesting. However, it will never generate that feeling that make a photograph great and unforgettable.

I am sure that you have read into the stories of photographers, who have decided spending months or years in a specific location in order to merge with their subjects. This is exactly about establishing a deeper bond with your subjects and being able to capture who they really are, while getting rid of all the prejudices.

 

It May Offer You New Ideas

A street photograph of a statue in Villa Borghese Gardens, Rome

Rome, 2017

When travelling to a new country, especially one substantially different from the ones you are used to, you will experience new cultures, meet new people, visit new places and see new things.

This is great! On the one hand, you will improve your cultural awareness. On the other, you might compare the newly experienced situations to what you see and how you live back home.

I believe that reflecting about the differences across countries, the cultural clashes and the juxtapositions is an important step to build an interesting and compelling project.
Indeed, you might decide to create a photo-book about the differences on a specific theme between your home country and the one you have visited. Similarly, you could take the cue from a new experience to appreciate more what you see back home. By looking at your home country with new eyes you might find that new themes are worth exploring and photographing.

 

Conclusion

Investing on experiences is much more valuable than investing on gears. One of the best experiences to enrich you as a photographer is travelling.

Certainly, there are myriads of reasons that make travelling so great. I have highlighted only three of the many, which I find worth stresssing on.

Travelling forces you out of the comfort zone, making you much more creative and flexible.

Travelling opens your mind. You will be more prone to accept different cultures, approaches to life and perspectives. This will elevate you both as a human being and as a photographer.

Finally, travelling supplies you with new great ideas. You might be inspired by the new experience to create an interesting new piece of work.

Buy experiences, not gears!

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