Travel Photography – Why Photograph “In Style”?
In the past, private travel photography basically only served the purpose of helping you remember the precious memories you would otherwise forget. At family gatherings or lonely evenings with your friend Mr. Redwine, remembering these too expensive but still wonderful holidays through the fading print was the true value of these photo trips.
Nowadays, many people couldn’t even imagine to travel, eat or wake up in the morning, fall asleep in the evening or lie awake at night without photographically capturing it and telling a few hundred of their closest friends immediately. Every single day, 100 million photos get uploaded to Instagram and three times as much on Facebook. In the time you have spent reading this article, more than 70,000 new photos have been added.
I will give you this daring thesis of Karl Valentin, that pretty much anything remarkable has already been photographed, just not by everyone. Probably in every light, from all perspectives and at any time (impressive proof on Petapixel). And with every imaginable camera, although this might make only the slightest of differences.
Good Pictures – A Question of the Camera?
If you look at the most well-known photographers of the last decades, you will see that they have little to no interest in dealing with the technical aspects of their camera. Once they have found the camera that can make their visual ideas real in the best possible way, they no longer burden themselves with technical issues, but with image contents. True to the motto “horses for courses” and depending on the task, they change the camera, lens or system to whichever suits the purpose. A principle known and abided by every craftsman which, however, seems outlandish to the often fanatical camera fanboys, as there are – according to their proclamation, experience and belief – no better cameras than model xyz. For everything and everyone and at any time. Of course, this leaves them little time to concern themselves with the photo itself, since it is necessary to point out the differences in the technical specifications of the latest model of their favorite brand and badmouthing the competitor’s model. And with every new camera model, of course, the pictures are getting better as well.
These days, an Annie Leibovitz uses a Hasselblad, Nikon or privately sometimes a Fujifilm camera. A Peter Lindbergh takes his Nikon, a Sebastião Salgado his Canon, Helmut Newton the Hasselblad, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa, Elliott Erwitt a Leica, etc. Sometimes not even the latest models. Vincent Peters even works with an analog Mamiya RZ, which was last built in 2004! Can you believe that? Especially since it’s not always possible to say whose parts are in these cameras anyway. Hasselblad lenses were built by Fuji, the former Digital Backs came from Phase One, many camera manufacturers use Sony sensors, Panasonic lets Leica construct their lenses, etc.
For some time now, you cannot buy bad cameras anymore. Nowadays, a camera for 500 euros produces a better resolution than the cameras that Cartier-Bresson, Erwitt, Eisenstaedt, Hoepker etc. had at their disposal. Of the more than a million photos uploaded to Instagram and Facebook since you started reading this article, many certainly have a better picture quality than Alberto Korda’s portrait of Che Guevara or Fred Herzog’s “Man with Bandage” or Kai Wiedenhöfer’s “Perfect Peace”, although few of them will leave a lasting impression.
But if it is no longer important what I photograph, because it has been photographed countless times before by others in better light and/or with more talent, and if it also does not matter what camera I photograph with, since today every camera is good enough for every use, what matters at all?
What matters, my dear readers, is HOW I take the photograph. With style and a signature personality.
Camera Selection – Basics.
I would like to make a disclaimer at this point, so that you will have had as much fun by the end of this series of articles as I had writing it.
This blog post is not a technical article, nor a camera test or comparison, and also not the attempt of a fanboy to get more brand disciples to their side. Also, I will not be looking at MTF charts of lenses or signal-to-noise ratios of sensors. That’s what others want and also can do better.
The sample images shown here were all taken by myself and with the style-inducing cameras mentioned within. Since Fratuschi’s editors allow only miniature pictures in ridiculously small resolutions under the pretext of short loading times, the pictures have little use for evaluation purposes. This means no use at all. But loading times are fast. The JPEG file format (with an 8-bit sRGB color space and a data compression allowing for a fast transfer to even the remotest areas of the solar system) relates to TIFF (in 16-bit ProPhoto RGB color space) like listening to a multiple-times-pirated shellac record of a Lang Lang concert (a Chinese pianist, not a really long concert) relates to hearing the same concert live at the Vienna Music Society with the hearing of a ten-year synesthetic. Since many readers probably don’t have a regularly color-calibrated monitor, know the term color management only from their washing machine and perhaps even read all of this on one of these tiny “mobile devices,” it doesn’t matter anyway.
I do not want to make you believe that there is a “jack of all trades” device that is the best possible solution for every purpose, no matter how advanced a camera system is.
For example, for the instantaneous Instagram documentation of your adventures, the smartphone is usually the smartest solution, which incidentally explains the name’s origin. Those who like to eternalize their photos as a wallpaper will be fans of the medium format and those who prefer to photograph sports or predatory animals at work can use cameras with a frame rate of at least 10 frames per second. True to the motto “spray and pray,” there will definitely be some lucky shots. Speaking of that motto – those who believe that anything that is more than 10 steps away from a car is not photogenic can be very happy with an SLR camera and the corresponding lenses and accessories. Those who like Sebastião Salgado and wander for days through the rainy Amazon primarily focus on proper weather sealing. Because the best camera is useless if it is either not with you or even broken. For concert photography, a low light monster is superior and, for street photography, something inconspicuous is advisable. Same goes for the photography of concerts, especially if you are not officially admitted.
Travel Photography with Style and Meaning!
Bearing in mind the fact that almost all cameras can take good pictures, there are still special areas where the camera of choice can differ a lot. The (private) travel photography is quite undemanding. I think it is important that a camera, including lenses and accessories, is fit for traveling, which means it is portable and does not need its own plane ticket. It should function reliably in rain as well as in heat and cold. For me personally, to be considered as a travel camera, it must also produce an exceptionally good image quality for printing on A3+ and high quality photo books in coffee table format. And have good ergonomics. It must be fun to take the camera in my hands and it should be pleasant to carry it with me for hours and days. Furthermore, the camera should be a testament to the high technical understanding and excellent taste of the owner.
A camera with the look of a plate of colorful dough is automatically out of the question, if owners put emphasis on appearance. And if they do not, they also do not need to read on. After all, several million photos have been uploaded and are in dire need of getting likes since you started reading this article.
Travel Photography in Style – Worldwide!
A Lexibook Hannah Montana camera is ok, if you want to look like Sacha Baron Cohen as Borat. It doesn’t, however, fit a Vilebrequin outfit at the One & Only Reethi Rah in the Maldives. Nor should a Sony Cybershot dangle from the same wrist as a Patek Philippe Calatrava. It’s like ripping pages out of a Bible.
And a Polaroid is in danger of being cleared away with the used dishes after the obligatory club sandwich in the lobby of the Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam… unless it is an original analogue instant picture camera from the last millennium. That would be cool again.
Instead, put a Leica M on the table. Preferably, directly on top of a “paternoster” by Swaine Adeney.
But do not lose sight of it, as these can easily cost 15,000-20,000 euros, depending on the lens on the camera. If you then call the waiter by his first name and pay with an American Express Centurion Card, attendees will appreciativelylet their jaws hit the floor.
So we can go ahead and even must, as my wife regards extensively long texts as SEO disease and Google poison. And allegedly puppies die in proportion to the length of texts and sentences in particular. Spot on for the most stylish cameras in the world.
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About the author:
Audemar ended his modeling career far too early to take over as Chief Coordinator Writers Stuff. Or something like that… He is married to me but wants to remain anonymous and therefore writes under a pseudonym, which we won’t reveal…
Such an insightful post – love reading about new ways to better my photos. I never get bored of reading photography tips and these are great!
Thank you Lauren. I love to hear you like the tips.
My travel camera has to be light, especially when you add all the gear. There’s some great mirrorless cameras out there that are amazing quality and super portable. I’m a devout Fujifilm user.
My wife also uses a Fuji Camera and the XT-2 is amazing! So lightweight and without any compromises in image quality.