A veteran photographer that I follow to this day who once said that a photographer needs to travel even if you are not into travel photography. He said it changes our perspective as a photographer as it gives one the opportunity not only see but also learn from other cultures. The last time I was able to travel was April 2016 when I was developing the website of Casita Mia Bed & Breakfast in Bicol. I had to travel to Caramoan, Camarines Sur to take shots that I would be using for their website.
What should I bring? That was the first thing that came to mind when I was commissioned to work on website. Since I will be taking a 10-hour bus ride from Manila to Naga, I had to travel light. Add to that the 3 hour ride in a van and then another 2 hours for what passes as a ferry to get to the island of Caramoan. I kept my gears to a bare minimum as I had another bag with me for my personal stuff. Here is what I brought:
- Canon EOS 5D Mark III with the Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens
- My nifty-fity, Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II
- One flash, a Canon 600EX-RT Speedlite
- Light stand
I brought a light stand to use when I shoot the rooms and other areas where there are areas that I need to highlight. The tripod was for taking low light shots of the place at night.
Lesson: Keep everything to a minimum.
I had a rough idea in my head on what I needed to shoot that I would eventually use for the client’s website. Still when I got to the place I prepared a more detailed shot list. This is just so I won’t forget to take photos of what I need and it helped me finish the job faster. I can always take shots for personal use once I am done with what I needed.
Sadly, it just so happened that when I got there they had VIP guests. Understandably they are the priority of the staff and I had to make some adjustments to the order that I had wanted to shoot. It would be a waste of time if I had to wait when I can go and start shooting. Having a shot list allowed me to shoot what I can at that moment and get back to what I skipped.
Lesson: Be prepared to make adjustments. Be flexible.
This was my plan as I was packing my stuff before I left for Caramoan, interacting with the locals would help me to get the feel of the place. It helped that the staff of Casita Mia was friendly and helpful. Even the tricycle driver and boatmen of Casita Mia was very cordial and friendly. It made me more at ease to work and take my shots.
Yes I was there to just take photos for the website, but interacting with them added some character to my shot. That was my purpose all along so that those who would view the photographs would not just see but also feel how it’s like. I want to sent across the message that there is more than just the beauty of the place but of the people as well. As they say a photograph should tell a story, otherwise it is just a snapshot.
Remember that travel photography is not just landscape photography. It is also about the people, their customs and cultures, and history of the place.
Lesson: Get to know the people who lives there.