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While I love nature, as a travel photographer, I often shoot in popular locations and in front of well known landmarks. There are usually a couple other photographers around, sometimes even a whole crowd, and thus, I get the chance to observe others at their work. A lot of them are hobbyists, some seem to do it more seriously, but I tend to see the same pattern in a lot of them.
I’m often amazed that I seem to be the only person moving around, trying different spots, angles and lenses. Hell, I dedicate a lot of time to just experimenting. But most photographers, it seems, stand rooted to their chosen square meter the whole time they are shooting. For example, just recently I was in Bern, Switzerland and was sprinting around photographing the beautiful old town. Now, Bern has a lot to offer and I tried to get as many different shots in as possible. I was up on the bridge, below the bridge, shooting the water, a lovely little bridge, the road, the church, ran up a hill to get some details and the rooftops, ran down the hill for light trails and during this hour while I got sweaty and accumulated about 5 blisters (yes, I wore the wrong shoes), there was this one photographer who didn’t move an inch the whole time.
Maybe, just maybe, if you have shot Bern a hundred times and know exactly what photo you want and what works best, you can do that. But in 99% of cases, this is not a good approach to photography. Because at the end of the day, these photographers walk away with 200 almost identical images in slightly different light conditions. It is probably one of the biggest mistakes you can make.
When I bought my first DSLR and made the decision to start out with photography, I got this wonderful tip from another photographer. He said: “Tiffany, as soon as you are happy with a shot, move on to the next location. Don’t get stuck trying to perfect a detail”. I’ve decided to listen to him and still stick to these words. Apart from learning about taking pictures in the right light and watching out for different elements of composition, this advice has been the main contributor in me getting better and developing my skills. Moving constantly helped me see angles and details I could have otherwise never imagined. Without this advice, I’d probably still be an amateur.
So now I’m passing this advice on to you: move it! If you are out there shooting the golden and blue hours, you’ll probably on average get about 60 minutes of good light, depending on your location and weather conditions of course. Use this time to the fullest by getting as many different shots as possible. Experiment, do something crazy, put on a different lens, zoom in, zoom out, switch between tall and horizontal shots, try a super wide, star the sun or put on filters. And remember, you can always come back to a shot you really liked later on. In the meantime, you might even find something better.
This is how I do it: I take 1-3 pictures in the same spot, until I’m happy with the photo or know it won’t work at all and then I move on to the next scene. Rinse and repeat until the light is gone. Sometimes I come back to a shot I have already taken and try it again when the light is different. For example, the first shot I take has a starred sun on the horizon and when I come back to it, I might try and get some colourful clouds in there and the third one will be taken with a deep blue sky during the blue hour.
I always keep in my mind that I’m only in this incredible location for a day, I might not return for several years, maybe even never again and I know, that I have to make the best of this hour I have been given. I have to make sure to take as many incredible and diverse photos as possible. After all the editing, sorting through and deleting is done, I usually end up with around 30 photos I really like.
If you don’t move around with your camera, you might get one good photo, but you miss 100% of all other opportunities. Some of these images might not turn out that well, sometimes what you try will be downright terrible, but at the end of the day, you will go home with some amazing and diverse photos on your memory card. And the best thing is: when you start moving around when going out shooting, you will soon develop a feeling for what works and what doesn’t. Moving will teach you lessons that sitting still can’t. Moving around will make you a better photographer.