4 tips for taking amazing travel portraits

A woman on the Great Wall of China, holding a snapshot of herself (Photo: Jenny Penas)

A woman on the Great Wall of China, holding a snapshot of herself (Photo: Jenny Penas)

Don’t be a sniper

Ask for people’s permission before taking their photograph. The best approach is to talk to them in their native language. It’s pretty amusing to try to speak a foreign language. You’ll make them laugh and you’ll get a genuine smile for your photograph.

Make a connection

Before and after snapping a photo, spend a bit of time with your subject. Interact with them, and make them feel at ease with you and your camera. You’ll be rewarded with a more powerful image when you take the time to connect.

Watch the background

Compose your shot and decide if you want to show more or less of what’s behind your subject. Their environment helps tell their story, but a tighter shot will let them shine on their own. Keep one eye on your subject and the other on the background.

Let them see

Show your subject the photo on your LCD screen or better yet, give them a copy. You can email it to them, but I prefer having an instant camera (such as a Fuji Instax Mini) with me. After taking a photo from my camera, I snap another one on my Instax and give them the print.

This article originally appeared in the May 2016 issue of Smile magazine.

Written and Photographed

Jenny Peñas

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