In this time of forced quarantine and limited travel options, I recently released a seven-part series of Top Ten travel photos from each continent on my website Customtravelart.com. For the benefit of my loyal cadre of readers on my Trip Accomplice blog, I’ve shared links below to each of the seven posts – all in one place! I hope that you can derive some joy, inspiration and comfort from these images and that they might tide you over until it’s time to get out there in person once more.
And if you haven’t already done so, I invite you to visit my Etsy shop Custom Travel Art by Ben for great gift ideas for the traveler in your life
Invariably, when I’m about to leave for a trip, I get all sorts of advice from my friends and family. Be safe. Have fun. Call me when you get there (usually just my parents). And of course: Take lots of pictures.
While all are well-intentioned, that last one always seems to me to be a bit of a platitude. It implies that anyone who tells you that actually wants to see the aforementioned ‘lots of pictures’. And while I’ve found that there are a select few who would like to see ‘some, but not a lot’ of your pictures—regardless of their quality—the majority are content to skip the slideshow portion of your trip review in favor of doing something more interesting, such as painting their toenails for instance.
I can understand where they’re coming from. The last thing anyone wants to do is spend an hour looking at snapshots of other people having a great time, eating great food, or taking a selfie in front of something famous that you haven’t been to. Travel photos bring out the inner narcissist in all of us, and while we might find ourselves the most interesting thing in the world, others usually don’t feel the same. Therefore, the trick, I’ve found, is in how you present your travel photos, and I’ll briefly rundown the key elements to keeping people interested.
It’s Not All About You
Yes, as hard as it is to believe, what you saw, what you ate or what you stood in front of is of limited interest to others—even those who love you. So when taking “lots of pictures” be sure to include some of scenes that would be of interest to others: particularly striking landscapes; interesting locals; architectural nuances; funny signs and things of that sort. Ask yourself if what you’re taking a picture of is something you would want to see when others show you their photos, and you’ll have a general idea of what works and what doesn’t. So please don’t take this the wrong way, but that picture of the ham sandwich you had for lunch just ain’t going to cut it, so please spare us. (That goes for Instagram as well!)
In the age of digital photography, technology has freed us from the limitations of traditional film. No longer are we hesitant to snap off multiple shots for fear of using up our remaining rolls. Gone are the multitude of small black canisters with the gray tops—each holding a precious roll of film that may or may not contain the images we hope for. However, such technology is both a blessing and a curse, because with an endless amount of shots available, there’s the tendency to take–and here’s the problem–keep, more shots than are reasonably necessary. So if you take a shot and see that it is blurry, crooked, photo bombed by an oblivious pedestrian or anything else that means you or someone else would have no interest in looking at it, then please, trash it. I know your electronic storage device has more than enough space to preserve that shot of the armrest of your chair when you accidentally hit the button, but the age-old adage applies: Just because you could, doesn’t mean that you should.
It’s All In The Presentation
Now that you’ve made sure to keep your subject matter interesting and have culled your thousands of jpegs, it is time to go through your photos once again and move the best into a separate file. At this point, you can use any one of a number of online photo services to create your trip’s ultimate showpiece: the photo book. With leaps in print-on-demand technology, you can now create your own printed and bound hardcover book for about the price of having prints made and stuffing them in a three ring photo album. While there are some variations, most will allow you a number of options that allow you to customize your cover, mix and match templates, backgrounds and borders, as well as add captions and special effects. My own personal favorites are http://www.winkflash.com and http://www.snapfish.com. Either way, handing your audience a beautifully bound book with your own artistic flair is a whole lot more interesting than pulling out your smart phone and swiping for twenty minutes.
I know that I’m in the rare minority of people that actually do want to see other people’s travel photos. But even then I have my limits. So keep it interesting, choose your best shots, and present them well. Otherwise I’m going to go paint my toenails.
Do you have any advice to keep your photo albums interesting?
To those who know me, it comes as no surprise that I’m a little late to the Instagram party. While I’ve been hooked on it through my own personal account for more than a year, the idea of sharing my travel pictures (a.k.a. 90% of what I post anyway) didn’t sink in until just this weekend. So, without any further delay, I invite everyone to follow Trip Accomplice on Instagram at @tripaccomplice. Thanks to everyone for their feedback about my video and I hope to add more shortly. Oh, and I also intend to write some more travel stuff now that my insertion into social media has gone a few steps further.