Travel Photography: Capturing “The Moment”

Account Director/Senior Content Director
Published 7/17/14
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Photo shoots sound so glamorous.

Maybe they are if you’re the model who gets to walk on set at the last minute, smile once or twice, then sit back and sip on a soy latte to await the next shot. But for those behind the scenes – especially on a travel shoot – it’s grueling, exhausting work.

There’s a ton of prep leading up to the big day. Scouting locations to find the perfect scenes, selecting the people who will appear in your shots, gathering all props and clothes needed. Then once on location, there’s the unpacking and setting up of all those props, cameras, lights, ladders, cords and more.

That’s not all. Since most photographers want to capture that perfect, dramatic light you get only at sunrise, sunset and certain times throughout the day, you’re awake hours before dawn and on the go until well past dusk to make sure everything is ready when you need it. Problem is those precious, perfect moments are fleeting, so there’s also a lot of “hurry up and wait” for the light to be just right.

Then you pack up late at night, drive to tomorrow’s location, catch too few hours of sleep – and do it all over again the next day.

Is all that hassle really worth it? You bet.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then one that instantly captures an experience or mood – evoking a strong emotional response, immediately transporting you to another place and time – well, that’s pretty priceless. And in the travel marketing world, snagging a photo that does just that – a “hero” image, we call it – is worth its weight in gold.

Now about the models I was talking about earlier ... We just spent the past few months conducting a big photo shoot for Georgia State Parks that has taken us to gorgeous locations from the coast to the mountains and all points in-between. I’ve seen some pretty incredible landscapes during that time, but no moment was more special than the morning I had to stand in for the “talent.”

As the sun slowly started rising over Lake Hartwell at Tugaloo State Park, our photographer put me in a kayak and sent me out on placid waters.

As he ran back and forth on the shoreline, on and off the dock, up and down ladders, constantly adjusting equipment settings to capture hundreds of images in about 30 minutes times, I was enjoying a far different morning. It was just me floating along in silence broken only by the occasional lap of water, splash of a fish or longing sigh of a mourning dove.

I forgot all about the rushed activity behind me, the work waiting back at the office, the inbox of unanswered emails on my phone. It was just me and Mother Nature having “a moment.” That’s why people travel. And captivating photography is what gets them there.