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Taking it to the streets

While Travel photography can be very different from street photography (mostly when it is about landscapes), I find some very strong similarities between both fields. I do get most of my inspiration from photojournalism and street photography, and this can be very helpful when dealing with fast moving situations.


In order to be effective at capturing brief moments, one needs to be prepared, and do a lot of anticipation. I put some steps on how to be faster and more efficient in my article The process of taking photos.


Street photography is a field when I find the photographer being very absent from his photos. Mostly candid shots, with people being unaware of the photographer being around. That means the photographer is understanding their environment and manages to disappear. This can be very useful while practicing Travel photography, as in a foreign country people tend to be aware of “the foreigner” quite easily.


The trick is to be patient. Once spotting an interesting photo (and by this I don’t mean an interesting subject, but more like a location, a spot), one has to stop and observe, understanding the dynamic of this place, and wait for the “decisive moment”. It requires a lot of anticipation, and being ready quickly.


For this photo, it is quite different though. After a few seconds I realized I wanted my subject to turn and look at me, creating an interaction with the viewer. From behind, he was just “another novice”. I wanted to know more about him, so I included myself into the photo, by having him turn and look at me. Basically this is how I did it:


After a long morning walking through Mandalay markets (which is very colorful and photogenic) I was heading back to my hotel. Right before entering it, I had to walk along this blue wall.I was still looking around for pictures so I waited a little moment outside, when I noticed this novice who was heading my way. He entered the narrow alley and I followed him.I pointed in front of me – switch to AI Servo (AF-C for the Nikon guys) – make sure I have the right shutter speed – move my focusing point to the right –

And then the magic trick that often works in Myanmar, is to call people the way they do it, like when calling a cat (not sure how to put a name on it in English).

He turned around – clic – clic – clic -clic

 contact sheet of Mandalay monk

I had time to take 4 photos, and this is the one I like best. I always take more than 1 photo, as people often (very often actually) blink. You can see on the photo before that he is not looking at me. I did spend some time wondering which one I like best, but I do like to look at my subjects into the eyes. The one where he is looking away might have been a better “street photo”.

He seemed surprise but then I caught up with him and showed him the photos, we had a good laugh together!

Novice walking in a small alley in Mandalay, Myanmar
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Founder of Pics of Asia, Etienne is a teacher with a photography habit.

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