A naturalised Australian born in Singapore, Liz Loh-Taylor, 32 and winner in the ‘Travel (Professional)’ category at the 2011 Sony World Photography Awards, is a multi-faceted photographer who has picked up an impressive string of accolades, despite having turned professional only two years ago.
I’ve got a bunch of Liz Loh-Taylor’s top Travel Tips & Tricks for budding photographers looking to better their craft:
TIP 1 – CAMERA/FRAME SELECTION: What to bring, how much to bring, when to bring it.
- Don’t focus too much on gear
- Bring the appropriate equipment for your trip
- Eg: Don’t overload on multiple spare cameras for a grueling hiking trip
- Travel light
- One camera, one lens!
- Cameras which allow for portability and maneuverability would be ideal. Consider one such as the SLT-A77 from Sony, which features a convenient Xtra Fine LCD with 3-way tilting, allowing for great convenience and flexibility, easily supporting everything from extremely low and extremely high camera shooting angles, to even shooting from the side
- Ask yourself what are you photographing, what’s the purpose of your trip?
- Although full-frame cameras are affordable at the consumer level today, ask if you really need it for the photography you’re intending to capture
- As long as you have a camera which has a resolution high enough for what you need, that’s good enough. Since at the end of the day, the focus is on taking a good photograph rather than capturing anything in sight
TIP 2 – ACCESSORIES: Your camera is only as good as the equipment going along with it.
- Lenses & Sensors
- Go with something that gives flexibility for shooting in various situational conditions
- Understand the capability and/or limitations of your camera’s sensors in various situations and scenes. The new 24.3-megapixel EXMOR™ APS HD CMOS sensor in the Sony SLT-A77 for example captures superior image quality in ultra-high resolution and detail; the extra-large sensor raising sensitivity in low-light conditions, while strengthening background defocusing effects
- A must to carry spares, as especially with travel photography, you never know the situations you might find yourself in
- “I have a phobia of having no electricity wherever I go… so for me personally I always charge up and carry 4 batteries!”
- Memory cards
- Bring at least two memory cards and alternate between the two
- This is to ensure that even if one fails you have a spare
- Do not just keep shooting until your memory card is full, clear it daily!
- Data back-up
- Back up images up to a portable HDD daily, as well as your laptop if you’ve brought one along
- In essence, ensure you have multiple channels of backup
TIP 3 – RESEARCH: Know what you’re getting into!
- Research is an absolute must
- Do as much research as you possibly can, even up to a month’s worth if required
- Make sure you have a good understanding of the location you’re headed to before setting foot there
- Ensure that you’ve got the relevant customs and traditions right
- Understand the appropriate dressing (e.g. women should not show skin in Pakistan)
- Take note of the places you should and shouldn’t go to
- Steer clear of streets and places which are unsafe for travellers
- Be open to local customs, do not unwittingly offend the locals (e.g. accepting hospitality of drinks like coffee in Northern Ethiopia)
- Utilise relevant resources such as the Lonely Planet forums
- Be wary of ‘commercialised’ information you find on the internet
- Source for information as close-to-the-ground and localised as possible
- Always try to speak to locals, get to know locals who’ll know the location much more intimately, and even possibly open up contacts on-the-ground where you’re headed
- One will never know as much of a local community as compared to the precise information from someone who’s actually lived there
- Stay in the same environment as the locals when possible
- Put yourself in their shoes, live their life as they live theirs
- Do not run off to the escape of a 5-star hotel at the first chance you get, you won’t fully experience the locale as much if you do
TIP 4 – COMPOSITION: Ensure that your perfect moments are captured beautifully as you envisioned them in your images.
- When it comes to photography, one really needs that patience in terms of waiting for something interesting to happen rather than just capturing whatever’s in front of you
- Move a couple steps left or right, back and forward, that alone changes the entire perspective of what you’re looking at
- This opens up a completely different viewpoint in terms of looking at your image’s composition
- Consider cameras which allow shooting from multiple angles for even greater convenience such as the SLT-A77 from Sony; which features a convenient Xtra Fine LCD with 3-way tilting, allowing for great flexibility, easily supporting everything from extremely low and extremely high camera shooting angles, to even shooting from the side
- Being observant, and anticipating what’s going to happen
- Sometimes situations are unfolding right beneath your eyes, and yet one does not notice them
- If you’re not observant, your camera wouldn’t be ready
- Sony’s SLT-A77 with the proprietary Translucent Mirror Technology for example allows one to shoot up to 12 frames per second with full-time phase detection and auto focus; allowing for the easy capture of fast moving subjects
- Ultimately there is no right way to photograph, no right way to compose
- Let your mind be free
- Do not be too focused on a subject, or too fixated on the composition and ‘force’ a shot
- “If your mind is free, your eye will start to see”
TIP 5 – POST-EDITING: Enhancing the essence of a beautiful shot.
- A photograph should have originated from the moment it was taken, not conjured up after
- Minor editing is acceptable
- Adjusting exposure
- Tweaking contrast
- Dodge and burn
- Conversion to black and white
About the Sony World Photography Awards
The Sony World Photography Awards is the world’s most comprehensive photography competition. It includes a Professional competition, which invites entries from the world’s leading photographers and ‘serious enthusiasts’, and an Open competition for everyone with an interest in photography. Each competition has been refreshed with new categories for 2012. A ‘Nature & Wildlife’ category has been introduced to the Professional competition and three new categories in the Open competition include ‘Enhanced’, ‘Split Second’ and ‘Low- light’.
All competitions will open on Wednesday 1 June 2011 and will close on Friday 6 January 2012 at 23.59 GMT. The vast majority of winners will be presented with their trophies at a ceremony in London in late April 2012. The winner of the L’Iris D’Or Sony World Photography Awards Photographer of the Year Award will also be revealed and presented with $25,000 (USD) plus Sony digital SLR camera equipment. The overall Open competition winner will receive $5,000 plus Sony digital SLR camera equipment.