Travel has changed. Thanks to easy airline connections, places that were once exotic and little visited are now on everyone’s bucket list. The internet has taken the guess work out of travel with recommendations from Trip Advisor, accomodation available on sites like AirBnB and even translation apps de-mystifying a foreign language. What’s more we all carry maps, books and sophisticated cameras in our pocket in the form of a smart phone. As a result, wherever you go these days, countless tourists are already there taking millions of photos.
So when I visited London recently I wasn’t surprised by the huge throng of visitors that swarmed around every famous site and took more pictures in a few seconds than I could take in a whole year. As a professional travel photographer I research destinations before I go to get an idea of what I can expect to see. Sites like Pinterest, and stock photo agencies such as Masterfile and Corbis oblige with carefully chosen and expertly crafted images from all over the world. What was particularly intimidating in London though was to come up with unique arresting photographs that somehow were different from everybody else’s.
My recipe for doing this was to block out all distractions and imagine myself seeing a landmark for the first time - albeit with the memory of a million photographs previously taken in the back of my brain. What magic could make this well known landmark seem captivating, beautiful and new? The ingredients I had to work with included time of day, light, perspective, angle of view, details, colour and finally, happenstance. Mix all these together and throw in a pinch of minimalism to eliminate distractions then stir slowly with a lot of patience. With time and a dose of luck it usually works. That's the exciting challenge I love about travel photography in the internet age. Nothing is guaranteed, its all made up on the spot with what is available out there. And there are always plenty of other photographers trying to do the same thing - some literally standing right beside you.