If there’s one thing that all study abroad students have in common, it’s that they love to take a good photo of their temporary home now and then.
And rightly so, a picture can instantly transport you back into that moment: how you felt, what you could see and smell, the fun you had there.
Unfortunately, though, we’re not all experts with their own personal DSLR. Here are some tips to keep your photos feeling fresh and original:
1) Avoid spending too much - You don’t need exceptionally high-priced equipment to get good shots. Many smartphones come with great cameras nowadays, so they’re always ready for a quick snap here and there. But if you even spent something as little as $100USD, you could get something of almost professional quality. Just make sure that whatever you bring is compact, can zoom, has Wi-Fi capability and can easily share images with your phone or computer.
2) Prepare a List of the images that you’d like to capture on your trip. There can be so much to see and so many moments to capture, it can be easy to lose track of what you’re looking for. A list of 15 or so makes a good solid base from which to build from. Which places, at what times, from which angle? Just don’t only include popular places- aiming for lesser known subjects such as some from a suburb or a narrow city street is a great way to show your environment in a more unique fashion.
3) But be Spontaneous! While planning is a good idea when it comes to designing the perfect album, just like life, you can’t prepare everything too carefully. Sometimes the ideas that come to you in the moment can be the best, so while you are out exploring, bring your camera and shoot anything that appeals to you. Maybe it’s a pretty flower or people feeding birds or the way the light is reflecting off a puddle. Anything can lead to a photo-worthy moment.
4) Experiment: Shooting from the ground, around head height, can get a little boring after a while, especially of popular attractions that everyone is photographing. By taking an aerial or ground perspective, you can reinvigorate traditional subjects. If shooting the Taj Mahal, for example, consider taking the pictures from far away, close-up, high or low. Angled shots are also fun ways to interpret touristy sites.
5) Make use of the Sun and show off your destination in contrasting ways — sunrise usually means fewer people, suggestive of the loneliness or peace of the place; shots taken at sunset, on the other hand, are an opportunity to reflect the energy of your short-term home. You may have to get up a little earlier, but it’s an excellent way to both show contrast and include a variety of colour and tone in your work.