Monday 2 Jul, 2012

Photography 101: Taking Photos on Tour

It’s not hard to recall the first EF College Study Tour I led, since I felt the same The David in Florence, Italysense of excitement, awe, and joy that all students feel on their first international tour. While I had traveled and lived overseas beforehand, for my first CST tour, I had chosen destinations that were new to me and my wife. Therefore, during that trip, I did what many of our trip participants do: take dozens of pictures of the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, the Roman Forum, and even those cute little Smart cars. As I look back on that trip though, I find that most of my “people” shots are simply group shots that defy any personal identification.

So how should we approach photography on tour?

As a group leader, I am very impressed by the creative photography of my students, such as the picture of a gelato strategically covering The David in Florence’s Piazza della Signoria and the photograph of the Corinthians taken in front of a temple in Corinth.

Corinthians in Corinth, Greece

However, from my traveling experience, I find that when I look back on the actual trips, I look for pictures that actually take me back to the middle of all the action. I want photographs that remind me of the people I traveled with, the joke we heard in the Colosseum, the moment that we made more friends, and so much more.

So now, during my CST tours, I take more pictures of my trip participants themselves. It’s ideal to include great landmarks in the background, but the focus should always be the individuals and not the landmarks. Sometimes, there is no recognizable landmark and that’s okay. Students will always remember where they were when a special photo was taken.

Additionally, too many students run to the base of a monument or the steps of a building as they ask me to take a picture of them. I use these moments as teaching opportunities and tell them to step forward, away from the building so that they become the focus of the photo instead of the Parthenon or Constantine’s Arch. It’s also enjoyable to include several people in one shot not only to mix things up, but also to serve as reminders of moments shared with old and new friends on a trip-of-a-lifetime. Photos that are not posed are great fun as well and can lead to a lot of laughs.

Finally, I love taking photos with my students. Gondola in VeniceIn addition to sharing the joy of the moment with my students, I enjoy the ongoing interaction these pictures provide. Often I’ll write to my students years later and include the photograph, conjuring up the memories of our time together on tour. “Do you remember when…?”

I still enjoy taking photographs  of the monuments, buildings, and green fields, but more and more, I am including in my pictures, the people who make the EF College Study Tours so enjoyable and so memorable.

***For more tips on taking great pictures abroad, check out these sites:
1. How to take better pictures with a camera phone
2. How to take better travel photos
3. How to take great photos
4. 7 tips for taking travel photos like a pro
5. National Geographic photo tips