As we stepped foot in Barbados, I could hardly wait to pull out my camera and start photographing the sunsets, beaches, and sunny details that are absent in Michigan. You better believe I photographed my beachy sunsets. You know I captured sweeping oceanic scenery. And, you all know I didn’t forget a shot of my feet in the sand.
All of that is beautiful. Amazing. And a huge part of my Barbados story. But, there is the OTHER side of Barbados…the side with beautiful people and a culture that I wanted to inhale inside my memory and never let it escape. THAT side does not exist out of my hotel doorway or on the beach. It is a little more tricky to capture, but such an important part of my Barbados experience.
I am not a National Geographic photographer. I am a portrait photographer who desperately wishes to capture the ambience and culture of the place I am traveling to. As we travel to as many global destinations that our money, time, and work will allow us, I have come up with a few things that have helped me reach beyond the seashells and sand to capture the culture I am so lucky to visit.
90% of phones these days have a camera. It obviously isn’t going to compare to your SLR 12 bajillion mexapixel professional camera, but it is always available and most do a really decent job of producing a good image. There are many times when our SLR cameras and big lenses just aren’t practical while traveling. My husband and I carry our iPhones with us everywhere while traveling and a good majority of our photos come from our phones. This way, we don’t miss small moments, people, or scenery along the way.
Rent a car and explore
First off, I am in no way discriminating against group tours arranged by the hotels or other groups. They are direct, get you exactly to your destinations, and even offer lunch. However, as long as the conditions are safe and you feel comfortable driving on the wrong side of the road at sometimes insane speeds, then by all means, talk to locals or hotel folk about desirable locations, get a map, plot your route, rent a car, and go EXPLORE! You can stop at that vintage church you would have zipped by on a tour bus. You can eat at local restaurants. You can get lost and laugh as you pass by the same spot two or three times. You can watch the local children playing cricket. You can stop and watch the local surfers prepare for their competition next week. We drove around the entire island of Barbados…photographing all the while and experiencing the culture and scenery in ways a tour bus could have never provided.
Visit the local spots
If you want to experience the culture, you must go to it. Research festivals or street events. Go to local restaurants. Flea markets are fabulous. And take local transportation to get there…I highly recommend the reggae buses in Barbados :)
Talk to people
Last, and maybe most important, is talk to the locals. The people in every country we have visited are wonderful, beautiful people who seem to be just as eager to talk with us as we are to them. You will get a history lesson, culture bits and pieces, and cool ideas for places to visit…all in one conversation.
In my four tips, I didn’t speak much of actual photography tips while traveling. It is because of these four reasons we COULD photograph so many beautiful people, places, and things. We know how to photograph…we just needed to get there.