Some of us take pictures to cherish particular moments and to create later on beautiful and elaborate photo albums. Others do so in order to see reality more consciously through the lens of their camera. If you belong to those, who would never travel without a camera, Florian (28), photo blogger from Austria at http://www.plexx.at, offers precious hints on how to bring home pictures that look like from the pro.
HTD: Florian, you are a very gifted photographer and taking impressive pictures. Which are the necessary photographic basics that we should know, if we would like to bring home truly memorable pictures?
Technique is important, of course. Though, to get those memorable shots you also need a good eye and a sense of originality. It’s all about training. There are people with more talent than others but no matter how talented you are, you can always get better. Get out there and shoot, shoot, shoot. Try to get inspired by the work of other photographers but avoid copying them. Try different things. Don’t stand where every other photographer is standing. Try to get a different angle. Start to look at details. Don’t be afraid to take pictures of things that seem unimportant. The good news is: cameras (especially smart phone cameras) have become so good that everybody can take memorable pictures without knowing many technical details about the photographic process. However, if you want to explore more situations and creative possibilities, there are three things you want to master (first): shutter speed, aperture and ISO. Try to start with a basic understanding of those three settings and how they influence the look of your pictures.
„This photograph is deliberately underexposed by chosing a small aperture, a fast shutter speed and low ISO to create black silhouette and bring out the details of the afternoon sky.„
HTD: How can I benefit from the tools that an average smart phone offers?
Every smart phone has one unique feature every other camera lacks: it is always in your pocket. Oftentimes I walk down the street and see a memorable scene but don’t have a camera with me. My smartphone gives me the possibility to capture those moments. Of course, smartphones do have limits. They have small sensors which means it is more difficult to get good results in bad light or if you want to shoot a moving subject. It is also more difficult to get those nice blurry backgrounds you can achieve with a camera with a bigger sensor and the right lens. One of the best features people always forget about is the HDR-feature. If you are shooting in the middle of the day with a strong contrast between a bright sky and dark shadowy areas, HDR really can do a lot for your shot. However, because your phone shoots multiple pictures in short succession and creates a single image out of them when in HDR mode, there shouldn’t be any fast-moving subjects in your shot.
HTD: How to become sensitive for outstanding photo subjects?
As said before: training, training, training. You need to train your photographers eye. There are rules that make it easier to get outstanding photos (rule of thirds for example -> google it!) but a rule can only make a good picture better. My advice: don’t be discouraged in the beginning. Depending on your talent you will get a lot of bad shots when you start out. Don’t give up. Get out there and get better. Buy a photo-book. You can learn a lot by looking at the work of other talented or famous photographers. Let them inspire you but avoid copying them!
„A shot of the Capitol in Washington DC. I wanted to take a photograph of Capitol Hill but I wanted it to be different from existing photographs. That’s why a choose a low angle and decided to create a blurry background with a sharp partial reflection of the building in the puddle.“
HTD: Let’s assume that we are ready to invest into a more professional camera. What would you suggest to frequent travelers?
There are no professional cameras. There are professionals and there are the cameras they use. For example, a friend of mine shot an assignment for a big shoe label using mostly his Fuji X100s. Most people wouldn’t consider that a professional camera. A photographer who knows his stuff can get great results with small or big cameras. Get a camera you will actually use. Don’t get a DSLR because it looks „professional“ just to leave it at home most of the time because it is so heavy. Also, an interchangeable lens camera only makes sense if you plan on buying more than one lens. If you don’t, just get something like a Canon G1X, a Panasonic LX100 or a Nikon P7800 (the list goes on and on…). If you want a really small but quite powerful package, get a Sony RX100 (I, II or III) or a Canon g7x. They offer all the manual control you wish for while being quite small. They also deliver excellent image quality. If you really want to invest into „professional gear“, look at the mirrorless options brands like Sony, Fuji, Panasonic or Olympus offer. Mirrorless cameras provide great image quality, manual control, often are much smaller than DSLRs and feature interchangeable lenses. If you really think you „need“ a DSLR, you can always get one of those nice Canons or Nikons (or Sonys…or Pentaxs…).
HTD: What do you like about travel photography and how do you practice it?
The great thing about travel photography is, that it is not – in my opinion – a separate genre but a different way to explore existing genres. The landscape photographer, the street photographer or the architecture photographer can and will discover new and distinctive buildings, people or scenery while traveling. When exploring a new city or country, I try to capture the atmosphere and peculiarities of that city/country. I concentrate on the things that are different. The things that are an expression of a different lifestyle, a different attitude. I want to get a different angle, a different perspective. Yes, I also take the classic holiday pictures but I also always look for hidden corners, undiscovered details and things nobody else pays attention to.
„I Shot this photo in New York City. I went around the corner, turned and saw this woman and her dog giving an interview. The thing I like about this photograph is that the dog is putting his paw on the woman’s foot as if he wants her to be quiet because he needs to say something important.“
HTD: You recently started your own blog, where you share useful hints for people who are passionate about photography. Your deep interest for this topic however dates back much longer. How did it grow?
I’ve always been surrounded by photography. My father started out with photography as a boy and has been a passionate photographer ever since. I fondly remember the times when he took me with him to pick up photographs and get new films at the local photography store. It was a fascinating experience listening to all this complicated tech-talk about cameras, lenses, films, flashes and filters. I got my first camera in elementary school, bought my first digital camera in 2006 and my first DSLR in 2007. Having lived in one of the most beautiful areas of Austria (the Salzkammergut) for most of my life, I started out as a landscape photographer feeling a deep love for the landscapes and scenery I grew up in. People in my family have always been creatives and I guess photography has become the way of expressing my creativity.
HTD: What do you want to show through your pictures? What is driving your passion?
I want to show beauty. I want to tell stories. I want to gather interesting moments. It is that simple. I could write a whole paragraph about the „creative process“ but the simple truth is: I feel a deep satisfaction in taking aesthetically pleasing images and capturing moments that seem interesting to me. For some pictures you just have to be at the right place at the right moment.
HTD: Do you have one final piece of advice for aspiring travel photographers?
Always remember: when you are on vacation, you are on vacation. Don’t let photography ruin it! There are so many people who carry around heavy equipment because they think they have to „get every shot“. Don’t be that person. Photography is an awesome passion but don’t let it control your life. Photography should serve you, it should make you happy but not dictate the course of your holiday. You don’t have to capture everything. Some things can’t be captured, they have to be experienced. Don’t let photography ruin that experience. Take your time to take in your surroundings. Taking your camera out to shoot a picture should never be the first thing you do when discovering new places…
More shoots and info about Florian:
Blog: http://www.plexx.at ι Instagram: @fffeuchtner
Twitter: @fffeuchtner Ι 500px: http://www.500px.com/fffeuchtner
HTD: Thank you very much for your outstanding hints and all the best for your artistic work! (ger)