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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Think Globally, Shoot Locally

To become a better travel photographer, try staying home and shooting alone

How can all this local knowledge and time help you improve your work? Here's a sample case. The Philadelphia skyline was permanently altered a couple of years ago by the completion of the tallest building in the city, the new Comcast Tower. Since moving to the region, I've been doing a lot of shooting in Philly and have some good contacts there, cultivated over time. One of them is a facility manager for a large company whose building commands a unique, striking and very private view of the skyline. I've been sending him my yearly photo calendar for years since we met at a holiday party.

I reached out to him for permission to shoot the new skyline from his rooftop, and he was happy to cooperate. I watched the weather reports and waited weeks until we had near-perfect conditions—a rainstorm, followed by a rare low-humidity, high-pressure midsummer day—and was able to get up on the roof at twilight to make a skyline shot that no visiting photographer, no matter how much more gifted, would be able to make. All this happened, by the way, simply because I'm local with an insider's knowledge.

Another great reason to shoot travel locally is to work out techniques and experimental approaches. If you practice your off-camera, slow-synch-flash techniques with a friend down at the local marina, you'll be well versed enough to do the same thing flawlessly when the occasion arises in a much more exotic setting with a much more exotic subject.

New Eyes. So don't pack away those cameras in between trips. Soon enough, you'll hit another exotic travel photography hot spot. And if you've spent the off-season shooting travel in your own backyard, you'll be a stronger, more capable and toned-up photographer when you hit the road again. Remember the sage words of the French writer Marcel Proust: "The only real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes."

For a schedule of Bob Krist's workshops and seminars, visit www.bobkrist.com and go to the "Teach and Talk" heading.


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