Photography News | Issue 46 | absolutephoto.com
Project yourself Travel Photography You can take your travel photography a lot further by sticking to coherent themes and projects. Just ask previous Travel Photographer of the Year winners and the PN team if it’s the best way to succeed, and here’s what they’ll tell you...
Words Kingsley Singleton Pictures various
As an enthusiast photographer, you’ve probably read lots of articles on travel shooting. Places to go, what to pack, how to plan your trip, and ways to improve pictures when you get to your exotic location. If you’ve been through these a few times, and are still not getting the results you want, here’s something that can really help: a project. Photo projects are a great fit for travel, because they’re a way to focus the mind and avoid the biggest mistake travelling photographers make; randomness. When you’re presented with new, exciting places, the overwhelming desire is to try to capture everything, and in thisway your work can lack cohesion as you ricochet from one subject or style to the next. But stick to coherent themes and styles and you’ll be onto a winner. Don’t believe us? Just ask Joel Santos (joelsantos.net) who was crowned Travel Photographer of theYear in 2016. Joel was born in Lisbon, Portugal and holds amasters degree in Economics and Management of Science and Technology, but has dedicated the last 15 years to his photographic passions. He writes and teaches on the subject as well as taking on commercial projects. Joel was picked from thousands of photographers, winning on the strength of two portfolios he entered into the Land Sea Sky and Journeys &Adventures categories. The images from those sets can be found on these pages, and on the TPOTY website, and both speak volumes about the power of projects. Take his Journeys & Adventures portfolio for instance, which gives the viewer an intimate glimpse of the life of Ghanaian
Above Travel Photographer of the Year 2016’s winner, Joel Santos, chanced upon a project shooting the fishermen on Ghana’s Lake Bosumtwi. First he had to befriend the fishermen, who looked on photography as taboo, but finally got to go out on the water with them, allowing him this amazing water-level perspective.
fisherman on Lake Bosumtwi. How did that come about? “Actually it was by chance”, says Joel, “I was working on another project run by a Portuguese and an American NGO, documenting children who are purchased as slaves to work at a Lake in Northern Ghana. I was really focused on that project, but I always keep my eyes open.” Staying near a village, next to a different lake – Lake Bosumtwi – he observed a community of fishermen and felt a keen interest: “I’ve been photographing fishermen for a long time, all around theworld; it connects with my Portuguese heritage. I wanted to tell their story, but it was difficult, because they saw photography as a taboo.” This is where Joel’s background as an economist helped his approach, enabling him to be logical, overriding the passion of wanting to rush in and shoot, and working logically to achieve his goal: “If I wanted to document that story, I knew I couldn’t just push it; just show up and expect it to happen. So I stayed on the shore for three days, every morning before going off to my main job. From 5am to 7am, I would sit with my backpack, and the fishermen would always say ‘no’ from afar.”
When you’re travelling to these small villages in far off places, you can’t just give people pictures electronically. I pack less underwear to fit a printer!”
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