Thursday, May 21, 2009

Travel Portraits

I have been a member of several Internet photography forums. Very often, there are forum members who post this type of question:

I will be traveling to Europe. What lens shall I bring/buy?

The other members usually recommend wide-angle lens. This is because people tend to think that when you travel, you are going to take pictures of beautiful sceneries or splendid buildings, such as the Swiss Alps or Eiffel Tower. Wide-angle lens is the best for the job.

I may be different. While I like to shoot landscape, I also often snap pictures of people. Therefore, a standard zoom lens or a short telephoto is indispensable.

Here is an example of travel portrait. The picture was taken in Kuta Beach, Bali several years ago. The sunset is nice, but without the kids on the foreground, it is just ordinary.

Here is a picture taken at Wat Phra Singh, Chiang Mai. Wat Phra Singh is one of the most beautiful temples in the Rose of the North. Like any other tourists, I went to shoot temple architecture. Then, I saw a monk give blessing to devotees, and I immediately captured this image…

This is a portrait I shot at Shinsane Guesthouse in Mae Salong, Northern Thailand. Boy… I was lost when I bid farewell to the lady on the right…

Warning: Not everybody like to be photographed!


  1. like the 1st picture so much!!

  2. 有时我很羡慕你这些摄影师,会拍摄可以到处捕捉美丽的景点,可惜我的技术很差,只会破坏而已。。。^_^

  3. kikey
    I also like this picture :)


  4. I like the beach picture that u took :) Nice!

  5. I agree with you...but I would pack a wide angle, telephoto and a 50mm prime (since it isn't heavy). You never know what you might come across. Travel portraitures are my favs....there's something about seeing different faces from all over the world that captivates my heart.

    A friend's camera got 'taken away' from her momentarily when she was photographing in the streets of Vietnam. A local lady demanded $$ from friend didn't budge but pleaded to have her camera back. In the end she got it back...after awhile though. I thought that was scary and a photography cultural shock. We need to be aware of the dos and donts when photographing in another part of the world.

  6. love yr first shot! that is really cool! i also like to take close ups on people, but think this can be done in friendlier places, and not so much in cities. i use to take these shots in thailand & bali, but when i was in other cities, i avoided them - some people scowl and scold! :)

  7. likey da 1st pic too
    i have no choice but to bring my one and only trusty joe with me... :(

    i will but one huge ass canggih camera one day...wait till i earn my own bucks... :)

  8. tz
    Haha... I like that one too.

    Mei Ting
    I didn't have a telephoto lens, so need to bring a standard zoom.

    I think Europeans are more skeptical over their photos being taken. Asians are probably not so bad.

    Haha... the day will come when you can afford a better camera.

  9. khengsiong,

    try going to biz district of singapore and even certain parts of kl ehem....! (last time, i had a tourist friend taking photos in the pasar malam in old melaka... and she got scolded!).

    though yes, i agree with u on yr statement too! :)

  10. The sunset picture is awesome! Since I don't have a wide angle lens, I just have to rely on my standard zoom lens. No choice :(

  11. Quachee
    Hmm... I thought Malaysians are friendly to tourists!??

    I also don't have wide angle lens, haha...

  12. don't worry i like to be photographed!! hehe
    用心感受世界的人会把世界的美留在镜头里。KhengSiong 是其中一个。加油!

  13. @khengsiong
    malaysians are not bad. but have u been to thailand or bali? or even jakarta? i find the level quite diff.

    but of course, there are nice people in malaysia too - i find kuching and penang quite friendly :)

  14. pingping
    Thanks :)

    Yes I have been to Thailand and Bali. Thais are definitely easy going.

  15. It's hard to get people to pose for pics sometimes. Other than that I agree with you. Pics are just so dead without people sometimes.

  16. I don't like being photographed too... wahaha, but I like take photos of chicks :)

    If you have a minute, do come to my blog to see the Super GT queens.

  17. If you take my photo, I will surely scold you! haha!

    Yes, some people do not like their photos taken, and so I always avoid taking photos of people. So how do you actually take photos of people? Do you need to ask for their permission first?

  18. Your portraits are beautiful... love the beach one, as well as the two ladies!

    I started to take a lot of pictures of landscapes when I traveled, because it's the obvious. Lately, I have been focusing more on people and I'm loving it.

    My advice to photographers/ travelers: you don't need an expensive and complicated camera when you go traveling. Having a light cheap version allows you to snap pictures easily and discreetly: i.e local markets or events. In China, I took pictures of the army on Tiananmen (it just looked cool), in Peru I took pictures of three military guys in front of the presidential palace. They all let me do because I didn't look like a professional photographer and had a "tourist" camera. Not sure if I had been able to do that without troubles with a professional looking camera...

    Same for events. I took pictures in concert, hockey games, Rio Carnival... each time, I was allowed to go in with my camera because it looked like it was for personal use.

    It's not your camera that matters... it's your eye!

  19. JL
    Yes, not easy to get people posing. But I think they are often more friendly to tourists.

    OK, will do ;)

    Sometimes I asked for permission first. Sometimes I don't...

    Taking pictures of army at Tiananman Square? -_-"

    You could be mistaken for journalists, or worst still, spy!