There is nothing more frustrating as a travel photographer than getting to a location full of excitement and hope only to find that it ends up being a big let down. It could be the weather playing havoc with your plans. Or the construction site that is in your view. Sometimes it might be that the place you are visiting just isn’t very photogenic or it could be that there is an event that stops you capturing the shot that you want to take. But don’t despair you can still turn that disappointment around and capture great photos. Here are 6 tips to help you out.
The first rule in these situations is simply to stay positive. You have no control over the weather, construction work or even unplanned closures so there is no point dwelling on it. It’s incredible how often you will find that by simply staying positive you will end up capturing great photos. Photography is often about solving problems and if you look at the situation simply as a problem that needs to be solved you will be more likely to be able to come up with an answer.
Turn around and look the other way
Sometimes you will get to a viewpoint or even a destination and end up being disappointed. It just isn’t what you imagined. Maybe the photos you saw weren’t a true representation of what it looks like. Or maybe there are also a few hundred other tourists who are also facing the same direction taking the same photo. Often what really sets apart great photos from all the rest is something that is unique and different. So once in a while, if you see everyone facing one direction and taking photos, turn around and have a look if there is anything else.
The idea here isn’t to simply shoot in a different direction as for example there might not be anything interesting. The point here is to try to find something different. A different angle, composition or even a completely different shot.
Think of a different story
I always remember my first trip to Angkor Wat. It was somewhere that had been on my bucket list for a long time. But when I arrived I was bitterly disappointed to see that there was scaffolding everywhere. Not to mention thousands of tourists all wanting to capture the same photos. But rather than trying to force a photo of the main complex which wouldn’t have looked very nice with all that scaffolding I decided to focus on other elements. Things like close-ups of the engravings or even some of the smaller temples that ended up providing a much better subject and ultimately better photos.
So if you find that you are disappointed in what you are seeing, maybe changing the story you are trying to tell will help change your mind on things. For example, if the weather isn’t great you can try to photograph people, food or even close-ups instead of your landscape or cityscape shots.
Sometimes through these situations, you will end up inadvertently capturing something unique just by experimenting a little bit and trying something different. This could lead to learning something that you didn’t know or even developing a technique that you can use in the future. If nothing else comes of it, at least you’ll be able to have some fun and it’ll stop you feeling disappointed.
Just do it anyway
I find that there is something really rewarding about capturing a great shot when you least expect to do so. I often take more pride in these shots than the ones where everything comes together perfectly for a great photo. Maybe it’s because you have to work harder in those situations to be able to capture the photo that you want. So there is always the option to just go ahead and do the shoot anyway regardless of what occurs. Who knows when someone might want a photo of Angkor Wat with scaffolding on it. When that day comes I will have some photos to be able to sell. The thing about photography is that you never know when photo opportunities will arise that will give you a great photo. So, rather than being despondent, snap away and persevere. You’ll be amazed how often you will end up with a great photo when you least expect it.
Sit and admire
Even as a travel photographer it is sometimes nice to just relax and admire where you are. Sure, that beautiful location that you have travelled to isn’t giving you the pictures that you want but it can still give you great memories. One of the big disadvantages of travel photography is that often you have little time to simply admire where you are. If you get the chance to sometimes remind yourself of that, then take it.
A disappointing shoot happens to every photographer throughout their lifetime. When you are dealing with any sort of photography outdoors than there is always a chance that things can go wrong. Whilst this can be frustrating, by staying positive and just changing your perspective on things you can still come away with amazing photos. They may not be what you expected, but who knows, they could be even better.
Photo credits: Kav Dadfar – All rights reserved. No usage without permission.