Blognotes from a photographer life...

Mar 21, 2010


Travel photography is often considered an "inferior" field of profession when compared to the documentary reportage. It's true that the subjects are almost always less interesting from a social point of view, and the impact perceived equally weaker, but shouldn't we consider the freedom of expression that the "lightness" of the subjects allow the photographer?
"Truth in Travel" is the motto of Conde Nast Traveler, but for years the magazine has featured images that are far from a pure presentation of touristic destinations. Most of the time the photos are strongly interpretative, showing meaningful details (well, sometimes not so meaningful, must say..) or almost abstract panoramas. The idea is simple: the public is well educated on travel, knows what will find in the various places, therefore what a modern magazine should do is suggesting a clever way to enjoy it. This was an idea not received by many European publications that have then succumbed to the web era.
For the photographer the task is less simple then what may appear after this statement. If you don't limit yourself to the representation of a place what you need to do is understand the soul of it, focus on one or more aspects that may symbolize this soul, and then give a personal interpretation. This requires quite a lot of experience, especially because the time to do the work is often very limited. But then comes the good part of the story: yes, the personal interpretation that all photographers love to be requested for! Going creative is all it takes, and your limit is the sky (or a conservative photo editor)!
So travel photography can be really creative if the end user is well educated and ready to face the modern public. Still will be confronted with the documentary photography that requires travel: not the same thing obviously, but many people tend to forget the deep difference and think that once you go away from home the job will be the same. As I mentioned in a previous post, during a shared slide presentation at TPW with Alexandra Boulat, we also shared many comments. She had edited my selection and she noted how more difficult it is to obtain an approval for a "travel" image compared to another showing some tragic event. A starving child will always be more engaging to the photo passionate then a white sand beach!

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