Travel Photography Tips

When I travel, especially on a mission trip, I really want to document my time. When my wife and I visited Cambodia, I journaled everyday in a small notepad. My wife is a photographer, so she shot as much as she could, everywhere that we went. My background in communication and hers in photography helped us dig into building relationships even when we didn’t speak the language of the people around us. 

When you travel, even inside your own country, my prayer is that you learn something. Shooting good photos can help you learn more when you get home. I know that not everyone is a gifted photographer, but we can try. For the sake of this article, we’re going to assume that you’re working with an extremely basic camera, perhaps a smartphone.  

1)  Start with the human connection.  

First things first, you’re a guest. Act like one. How would you feel if someone walked into your house and rearranged your bookshelf? 

Let’s start with a human connection. Leave the camera in your pocket for a while and get to know the people you’re visiting. This may seem like a simple no-brainer, but it’s so important. People are shy in front of a camera, especially adults. 

Eventually, the rapport will be built up that it will be ok to pull out the camera. Start by shooting things around the space you’re in, then gradually move toward photographing the people.  

2) Capture the moment the need is being filled. 

Mission work is God’s work. You and your team has traveled to a place to share the gospel and work on some earthly need in that community. That’s exciting. Keep an eye out for those moments when you can see the mission being accomplished. Remember, the mission is about the people, not the project.   

3) Shoot the details that matter.

Every picture tells a story. Good stories are found in the details. Going back to number one above, if you’ve built up a rapport, you’ll be able to observe how they interact with their environment. If you begin by shooting wider shots and gradually narrow your focus down to they items that matter to your hosts, you’re going to capture an important detail in their story.  

Bonus: Learn the words. Write them down. This is a post about photos, but learning nuggets of the language help to tell the story shown in the pictures. 

Photo Credits: Tingting Schwartz

About the Author:  Dan Jaspersen is Director of Marketing Communication for Kingdom Workers. Before joining KW, he worked in Global Web-Marketing, International Relations in Asia and studied in South America.