I learned a lot of practical travel photography stuff from Wigg Tysmans. Although his expertise is portraiture and commercial photography, he is a master of what he calls as “The Money Shot”. I’m sharing with you the secrets that I learned so that you can improve your own photography and take your own “money shot”.
1. The best way to take panoramic shot using your DSLR is to take panning vertical shots. It is easy to stitch vertical shots of the panoramic scene instead of horizontal shots to avoid the vignetting due to the lens.
2. The pictures that you take is a reflection of who you are. Very philosophical but true. Don’t attempt to copy the works of others because you will only be dismayed with the result. Take photos of things that you love and are passionate about.
3. The best shot is always taken from an elevation. This is a confirmation of what I also learned from Master George Tapan. Always be ready with a stairs. You can call or inquire from the resort / place to check if they have one.
4. The Magical Hour. The best shots during sunset is taken during the magical hour — 30-45 minutes after the sun sets in the horizon. Always wait for this magical hour and be ready because the lighting conditions change very fast.
5. Take the shot, have fun and go back for the right lighting condition. This is the right practical approach to travel photography. You need to enjoy and take the shot even when it is not the perfect lighting condition. You don’t know when you will be back in that place again. If you have the chance to go back during the right lighting conditions, then make every effort to do so.
6. The Concept of the Money Shot. “The Money Shot” is the photo that has a lot of commercial potential. You always have to be ready to take the money shot. These shots can only be taken at a unique point of time with the unique kind of lighting and circumstances. Some calls this the chamba shot but for a photographer who is ready, then you are just waiting for the perfect moment.
7. Photographic Balance. The best application of a vertical shot is when there is something happening on the upper half of the photograph and the lower half. Don’t take a vertical shot for the sake of having a vertical shot with an empty upper half or lower half. When violating a rule of 3rds and taking a center shot, make sure that there is something happening on the left and right side of the subject. Square shots are perfect because you can place the subject in any location.
8. Portrait Moments. Always look for the perfect portrait moments when you travel. These moments could be priceless and it will never happen again. How I wish I could take a portrait shot of our family with zebras and giraffes in the background. Or having the Kayangan Lake as the perfect backdrop for your portrait.
10. Don’t intimidate your subjects. Take portraiture shots of people you meet when you travel. Talk to them to put them at ease and learn the art of quickly building rapport with your subjects.
Text and Photos by Anton Diaz. Copyright 2008.