4 June 2021

How I take photos

Taking photos has made me pay more attention to my surroundings when I travel. I noticed details I would have overlooked. Inevitably, I end up spending a significant amount of time in any given spot – at least much more than the duration “recommended” by travel books. Over time, my photography skills have improved too: I’m a good amateur, but a far cry from being a pro even if I get a rough sense of the areas I need to pay more attention to. But maybe I’m just making up excuses!

With 130,000 photos taken over the past 15 years, my organisation system has remained robust; I even considered hiring someone to focus on the sale of my best shots since I had some preliminary data that this endeavour could be profitable. I still spend too much time organising and not enough enjoying though – a classic dilemma that I try to address in an article on trade-offs that I haven’t managed to finalise and publish in months.

Having said that, I do try to give a (second) life to those photos by embedding them in my stories. I would either have an idea for a story and then find the best photos in my collection to illustrate it, or I would go through my photos of a particular location and they would nudge me towards writing “something” about them. That “something” isn’t always straightforward. Some research (on the history, the culture, the people) however does help in getting a story to take seed in my mind.

Another way to keep my photos alive is to talk about my shooting process. I could limit myself to explaining my photographic decisions (composition, settings) after the fact. However, Nigel Danson’s videos inspired me to take it a step further and do the explanation in the field i.e. as I’m about to take a shot. Now that is obviously a little more complicated to set up, since it requires me to use a microphone and have something interesting to say even though I’m improvising. It’s a good way to share tips as well. Have a look at that first try and let me know what you think:

I quite enjoyed recording and editing this video: it’s a pleasant combination of photography, videography and giving a talk. In general, I believe there’s a lot of value for anyone to see how others do things, in all domains. After all, that’s how I learned the ukulele. I was about to add “on my own” but that’s technically not correct since my teachers were plenty of different ones who took the time to publish videos on YouTube.

Many projects await me at the intersection of training and video. I’ll likely continue to dabble in different genres and topics before settling on a few (ideally one, but I find it tough to reign myself in). Stay tuned for more!