A day with National Geographic Photographers Susan Seubert and Catherine Karnow

I was jazzed about spending a day listening to two master travel photographers.  A notepad, pens and highlighter in hand and I met good friend Julia Snelson at the Hennepin County Library.  The day was amazing, the seminar was packed with great insights.

Takeaways (please note that I am paraphrasing):

  • Great travel photos are often a bit 'messy'.....there is no studio; conditions can change rapidly, lots of tourists get in the shot, the terrain is unfamiliar.  Accept the challenge, observe and move yourself toward the picture you want to create. 
  • Shoot people up-close.  Actually, when you think you are close enough, get in closer.  If you can catch the glimmer of light in the subject's eyes there is instant intimacy for the viewer.  But here's the real challenge - while close-up try to include some of the surroundings so there is context.  More challenging than you might think!
  • Get out and shoot in bad weather.  A stormy sky is wonderful; a stormy sky with a tiny ray of light is the ultimate gift.  
  • To make food look yummy, shoot in natural light.  So take your fish taco basket outside and take pictures under an umbrella or tree.   An easy idea, right? 
  • To shoot a seafood or farmer's market, try for an aerial shot from a bridge or as high as you can get. 
  • Try 'dancing around the teacup', a term used by seasoned photographers to take multiple shots of the same subject.  This one resonates with me because I find myself taking 10+ pictures of the same subject until I am content.
  • Stick with the situation.  If you don't get what you want the first time, go back later in the day or the next day, then go back a third time if it's important.  Patience is vital.  

I'll write up more notes and pass along soon.  You can scan National Geographic seminars and exploration opportunities here

This photo was taken Labor Day Weekend (2014) while traveling with friends in Vancouver, Washington.