How to take captivating photographs of people on your travels

WildChina > Insider Tips > How to take captivating photographs of people on your travels


“The great difference between voyages rests not with the ships, but with the people you meet on them.” – Amelia E. Barr

If you are traveling far from home this holiday season, you will surely be compelled to take photos of the people you meet along the way who make your journey an adventure. Here are some great tips on how to take captivating photographs from Dr Michael Pritchard, Director General of the UK’s Royal Photographic Society.

1. Spend time exploring a new location before starting to photograph its people. As you become more familiar with an area and the people there, you will identify what’s really interesting and worth capturing.

street close to the Mosque, Kashgar
Market street, Kashgar

2. For close up portraits of people the most important thing to remember is to always ask permission. If language is a problem then gesture and make it clear that you want to take their photograph. If someone says no then accept it and move on. Putting a camera lens close to someone’s face without permission is rude in any culture.

3. The best photographs come because there is a relationship between subject and photographer. If you can spend time with someone and have a conversation, or share a cup of tea or a meal before you bring out the camera, they will be more likely to allow photography and you’ll get better images.

How to take captivating photographs of people on your travels
Dinner at Lugu Lake. Photograph by Ricky Qi

4. Make sure you understand your equipment fully and be confident in what you are doing. The quicker you can work the better because no one likes sitting still for too long. If you look professional then your subject will probably like to see your images too. Offer to send copies, particularly of children to parents.

Boys at the market, Xinjiang
Boys at the market, Xinjiang

5. If time and budget allows, make some follow up visits so that you start to build relationships with people and understand the place more fully. Your images will get better as a consequence.

How to take captivating photographs of people on your travels
Nomadic Life, Sichuan

We’ve teamed up with the RPS to bring a brand new award to the WildChina Explorer Grant 2016. Each year we give one adventurer $5000 USD to make an impact through their exploration. This year we are looking for applicants to inspire us with their photos and The RPS will be offering a special award for the best photograph submitted. The winner will receive a cash prize of £250, the chance to have their portfolio critiqued by an RPS fellow, and the winning photograph will be featured in a RPS journal.

More information on the WildChina Explorer Grant 2016 can be found here.