Tips for the Solo Traveler » Taking more interesting pictures

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by Linda Ledray

Several readers sent in excellent suggestions in response to my February ’04 column on taking more interesting pictures and displaying them in a more compelling way back home. I hope you find their suggestions as interesting as I did.

Included is a tip from one of ITN’s advertisers, Close-Up Expeditions (858 56th St., Oakland, CA 94608; phone 800/457-9553 or visit www.cuephoto.com). Other advertisers that offer trips focusing on photography include EP Travel (Box 1043, Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546; phone 800/492-1106 or e-mail bill@ep-travel.com). . . In Focus with Michele Burgess (20741 Catamaran Ln., Huntington Beach, CA 92646; phone 714/536-6104 or visit www.infocustravel.com) . . . and Zegrahm Expeditions (192 Nickerson St., Ste. 200, Seattle, WA 98109; phone 800/628-8747 or visit www.zeco.com).

Here are the readers’ comments. — L.L.

For really memorable pictures, I have one guideline: keep my eyes open and my camera close by. Great photos come when they’re least expected.

On a morning stroll in Helsinki I spotted a bird on a statue’s head and snapped a shot. It’s easily one of the best of the trip, partly due to the expression on the marble head!

In Morocco, a trip down a dusty road revealed two old men in their djellabas watching a funeral procession — again, a great photo that I never could have predicted.

On a train in western Thailand I sat with a Buddhist monk. He gave me permission to take his picture, and the most gorgeous image of the trip came when he dozed off with his head against the sill of the open window.

As an afternoon rain started in Australia, I drove over railroad tracks near Mudgee. Down the tracks I saw an overcast sky framing a tiny abandoned rail station. Of course, I hopped out and snapped the image — and I’ve gotten great comments on it. . . from two professional photographers!

Great shots will take you by surprise if you let them. I have a shoulder bag that carries my camera at all times. Never leave your camera back at the hotel, even if you’re out for a short walk or a quick errand. You may lose a fabulous image!

— Thomas Lower, Birmingham, AL

Regarding the reader’s question concerning traveling solo and having boring pictures, I have these comments.

I travel both solo and a deux and do my albums the same way. I take all the pictures I want, whether classic, trite or “artsy” (an interesting doorway, an architectural detail, a local child, etc.). I also collect matchbooks, restaurant receipts, ticket stubs, brochures, free maps, postcards, etc. Also, each city seems to have at souvenir stands or newsstands inexpensive photo books of the city that feature primary tourist sites and photos that don’t include crowds of people.

I also keep a journal, of sorts, during the trip, jotting down each day what I saw, what I ate, whom I met, the funny thing that happened and so on. The journal is a good activity while dining alone — not as trite as reading a novel. It makes one look important, I think.

When I’ve developed all my pictures, I make a scrapbook rather than just a photo album. I include my own culled photos and also all the memorabilia described above. I ruthlessly cut up the cheap souvenir photo books, as the glossy photos add a lot of color and interest. I also type out my journal and then cut out excerpts of it and paste them next to the corresponding photos or souvenirs. I paste in a map here and there. I write in comments by hand next to some items to avoid the droning narration of, “And then I went to. . .” It’s a multimedia work, so to speak.

This makes a great post-trip project, to put off having the doldrums set in. When it is finished, I show the album to friends and family (actually, I give it to them to look at), and most of them seem to find it interesting, at least once. I often make an occasion of it and invite a bunch of people over for a post-trip dinner or brunch.

All of that said, one’s trip album is a personal thing, a “you had to be there” experience. It will never mean as much to others as it does to you, and we all know that being bored by someone else’s trip slides or video is a cliche in itself.

I totally agree with Linda Ledray that it is important to save and savor those memories, if only for oneself. I look through them often when I want to make myself smile.

— Elaine Lavine, New York, NY

The “Solo Traveler” column in the February ’04 issue addresses a problem I, too, have faced with my travel photos. I have found a solution that pleases me and also seems to please my friends. I have turned a hallway into a travel gallery and lined the walls with my mementos.

After extensive editing by selection and then the use of scissors, I make a photo collage of my trip and mount it in a poster frame. For additional celebration, I have a straw runner on the floor onto which I stencil the name of each country I have visited.

Friends tell me they get a much better feel for the experience from the collages, and they are free to spend as much time (or as little) looking at them as they want.

I also post an album of my photos online with captions and provide the URL to my friends if they want to spend more time exploring. Some friends never look at them, and others go through the entire collection and even pass the link along to friends and family.

— Thelma A. Krueger, Bellevue, WA

In the February issue, a reader, Mary Ann E., complains that her travel pictures are dull and asks for suggestions. Mary Ann might be interested in a photo tour, a trip guaranteed to improve her images and provide wonderful memories to share with friends.

Our small groups, professional guides and long years (25) of experience guarantee photographic success.

— Janet Denninger, Operations Manager, Close-Up Expeditions, Oakland, CA

Please login or subscribe to ITN to read the entire post.

by Linda Ledray

Several readers sent in excellent suggestions in response to my February ’04 column on taking more interesting pictures and displaying them in a more compelling way back home. I hope you find their suggestions as interesting as I did.

Included is a tip from one of ITN’s advertisers, Close-Up Expeditions (858 56th St., Oakland, CA 94608; phone 800/457-9553 or visit www.cuephoto.com). Other advertisers that offer trips focusing on photography include EP Travel (Box 1043, Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546; phone 800/492-1106 or e-mail bill@ep-travel.com). . . In Focus with Michele Burgess (20741 Catamaran Ln., Huntington Beach, CA 92646; phone 714/536-6104 or visit www.infocustravel.com) . . . and Zegrahm Expeditions (192 Nickerson St., Ste. 200, Seattle, WA 98109; phone 800/628-8747 or visit www.zeco.com).

Here are the readers’ comments. — L.L.

For really memorable pictures, I have one guideline: keep my eyes open and my camera close by. Great photos come when they’re least expected.

On a morning stroll in Helsinki I spotted a bird on a statue’s head and snapped a shot. It’s easily one of the best of the trip, partly due to the expression on the marble head!

In Morocco, a trip down a dusty road revealed two old men in their djellabas watching a funeral procession — again, a great photo that I never could have predicted.

On a train in western Thailand I sat with a Buddhist monk. He gave me permission to take his picture, and the most gorgeous image of the trip came when he dozed off with his head against the sill of the open window.

As an afternoon rain started in Australia, I drove over railroad tracks near Mudgee. Down the tracks I saw an overcast sky framing a tiny abandoned rail station. Of course, I hopped out and snapped the image — and I’ve gotten great comments on it. . . from two professional photographers!

Great shots will take you by surprise if you let them. I have a shoulder bag that carries my camera at all times. Never leave your camera back at the hotel, even if you’re out for a short walk or a quick errand. You may lose a fabulous image!

— Thomas Lower, Birmingham, AL

Regarding the reader’s question concerning traveling solo and having boring pictures, I have these comments.

I travel both solo and a deux and do my albums the same way. I take all the pictures I want, whether classic, trite or “artsy” (an interesting doorway, an architectural detail, a local child, etc.). I also collect matchbooks, restaurant receipts, ticket stubs, brochures, free maps, postcards, etc. Also, each city seems to have at souvenir stands or newsstands inexpensive photo books of the city that feature primary tourist sites and photos that don’t include crowds of people.

I also keep a journal, of sorts, during the trip, jotting down each day what I saw, what I ate, whom I met, the funny thing that happened and so on. The journal is a good activity while dining alone — not as trite as reading a novel. It makes one look important, I think.

When I’ve developed all my pictures, I make a scrapbook rather than just a photo album. I include my own culled photos and also all the memorabilia described above. I ruthlessly cut up the cheap souvenir photo books, as the glossy photos add a lot of color and interest. I also type out my journal and then cut out excerpts of it and paste them next to the corresponding photos or souvenirs. I paste in a map here and there. I write in comments by hand next to some items to avoid the droning narration of, “And then I went to. . .” It’s a multimedia work, so to speak.

This makes a great post-trip project, to put off having the doldrums set in. When it is finished, I show the album to friends and family (actually, I give it to them to look at), and most of them seem to find it interesting, at least once. I often make an occasion of it and invite a bunch of people over for a post-trip dinner or brunch.

All of that said, one’s trip album is a personal thing, a “you had to be there” experience. It will never mean as much to others as it does to you, and we all know that being bored by someone else’s trip slides or video is a cliche in itself.

I totally agree with Linda Ledray that it is important to save and savor those memories, if only for oneself. I look through them often when I want to make myself smile.

— Elaine Lavine, New York, NY

The “Solo Traveler” column in the February ’04 issue addresses a problem I, too, have faced with my travel photos. I have found a solution that pleases me and also seems to please my friends. I have turned a hallway into a travel gallery and lined the walls with my mementos.

After extensive editing by selection and then the use of scissors, I make a photo collage of my trip and mount it in a poster frame. For additional celebration, I have a straw runner on the floor onto which I stencil the name of each country I have visited.

Friends tell me they get a much better feel for the experience from the collages, and they are free to spend as much time (or as little) looking at them as they want.

I also post an album of my photos online with captions and provide the URL to my friends if they want to spend more time exploring. Some friends never look at them, and others go through the entire collection and even pass the link along to friends and family.

— Thelma A. Krueger, Bellevue, WA

In the February issue, a reader, Mary Ann E., complains that her travel pictures are dull and asks for suggestions. Mary Ann might be interested in a photo tour, a trip guaranteed to improve her images and provide wonderful memories to share with friends.

Our small groups, professional guides and long years (25) of experience guarantee photographic success.

— Janet Denninger, Operations Manager, Close-Up Expeditions, Oakland, CA