Venetian Canal, 2015

The Evolution of Travel Photography

The Evolution of Travel Photography

Everyone who travels abroad today documents their experiences with cameras. Whether you carry a professional DSLR camera, a tripod, and four extra lenses or rely on a conveniently pocket-sized iPhone, photographs are a universal component of modern travel.

What’s interesting is the way that the subject matter evolves as you become a more experienced traveler. Initially, we focus on pictures of ourselves, visually saying, “Look at me! I’m here!”

Me in Puerto Rico, 2003
Me in Puerto Rico, 2003

As we become more sophisticated travelers, the focus become less egocentric and instead focuses on just the things that we see.  We use our photographs to say, “Look at the cool stuff I saw!”

Costa Rica, 2011
Costa Rica, 2011

Finally, mature photographers focus more on the people that truly reflect the experience of being in a foreign country, striving to capture the foreign experience and convey it to others rather than to simply brag about the trip.

Venetian Locals, 2015
Venetian Locals, 2015

2 thoughts on “The Evolution of Travel Photography

  1. As someone who loves taking photos and hopes to travel abroad, I found this post intriguing. Do you have any experience taking photos abroad? If so, can you support this idea of your travel photography maturing with personal experience?

    • Yes, I love to take photos when I travel! I visited Europe this summer and came back with more than 2,000 photos–in my opinion, pictures are the most valuable souvenirs I could ever bring back with me. Many of the photos on this site are my own, including the ones in this post (except the first one of me, which my mom took).

      I have noticed the focus of my own photos shift over the years–I used to just let my family take pictures of me, and then I was really into taking pictures of things like wildlife. I would come back from a camping trip with dozens of photos of one herd of elk (despite the fact that I can often see them in my own backyard). But now, I strive to capture the essence of a place’s culture and history, and in my experience, that can’t be done if you only focus on small objects.

      It’s still fun to take photos like the one of the frog, but that picture doesn’t really say anything about Costa Rica; it’s just a frog :)

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