Photography Tips for Your Trip

 Michele WestmorlandWant to take that perfect photo on your next trip? Renowned photographer Michele Westmorland shares her tips for capturing those memorable images.

1.  Ask permission when photographing people.

Respect will get you a long way when photographing people in foreign lands. Engaging a person and getting their approval is the cornerstone of cultural photography. Of course, with large crowds, that is not always possible, but when singling one person out,  just ask or move on.

2.  Pack light and review equipment needs.

Review all your equipment needs and make a list. Not only will this ensure you don’t forget any important gadgets but it will also help you to be selective and abide by airline weight restrictions.

3.  Lenses

I tend to select my lenses based on weight and needs. A wide-angle zoom lens such as a Canon 16-35 will provide the capability of photographing landscapes and large groups of people. A medium zoom, such as a 24–70mm, will give you nice portrait photos or detail shots. Then to finish, a telephoto zoom will provide the best results for wildlife, such as birds.

4.   Details

It’s easy to just focus on capturing the “big picture” but don’t forget to get the details. When taking portraits, focusing on interesting elements such as the hands, an interesting piece of clothing or jewelry or a musical instrument being played.

5.    Circular Polarizer

I never leave home without mine. A polarizer allows those rich forest images or puffy clouds to really pop.

6.   Back-Up Those Images

Don’t rely on just your laptop or viewing device—I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard about people losing their precious images from device failure. Small portable drives are inexpensive and can give you peace of mind that you will get all of your images home safely.

7.  Why RAW 

If your camera has the ability to shoot in RAW format—use it! RAW format this is like having a negative of your image—it allows you to post-process the images the way you saw the scene through the lens. JPEGs take up less space but they compress the image, limiting your post-processing options.

8.   Know Your Camera

Make sure you understand your camera. I am always happy to help sort out cameras but with so many cameras on the market it’s impossible to know the details of all of them. If you do not know the ins and outs of your camera, bring or download the manual—it will come in handy.

Experience Papua New Guinea with Michele this June on our “Through The Lens” small group trip. Michele Westmorland, a veteran of dozens of trips to Papua New Guinea with deep local connections, will facilitate wonderful cultural interactions and provide expert technical advice.This is travel as artistic endeavor, a deep immersion in the sound, shape and color of the world’s most kaleidoscopic land.

Guest Post: Travel in Colour by Claude Renault


Neeja sitting in front of her home in Neemrana, Rajasthan. Claude Renault © All rights reserved


My first trip to India was in 1984, to the north. In 1999, I returned for three months to South India, which turned out to be quite different from what I had seen during my earlier visit. I fell in love with India while in Hampi, where I was drawn to the more traditional way of life. Hampi’s rural setting reminded me of aspects of my upbringing. I grew up in a village in Brittany, France and can still remember the easygoing pace of life there. It was similar in Hampi.

Since 1999, I have been back to India every year, sometimes twice a year, and it’s becoming very difficult to go elsewhere. The country has become part of me. Not a day passes without me reading something about it or listening to Indian music. It’s almost an obsession, albeit a gentle one.

As I studied painting and sculpture at art school, I drew more inspiration from painters than photographers. In my photographs, color fills the background whenever possible.

Each time I return to India, I experiment with something new. It can be meeting Indians on the ghats (sandstone steps leading to the river) in Varanasi, spending time with sadhus (Hindu holy men), sharing days with hijras (people belonging to a traditional transgender subculture) or attending a colorful festival like the Sonepur Mela in Bihar. I love photographing daily life, but never wanted to indulge in the sordid—a trap you can easily fall into in India. I deliberately choose to show the brighter side of the country. What I want to capture is a moment of intense emotion, the movement and the color, without being abstract.



Asia Transpacific Journeys India Photo Contest Semifinalist, Claude Renault © All rights reserved


It seems like everybody in India has some kind of knowledge on how to mix colors together—it can be a hut, a tiny shop or a wall. I started shooting in black and white, but nowadays I wouldn’t dream of going back to that. Life is color, and India is full of it. It has an energy you don’t find elsewhere in the world.

Traveling and shooting in India each year gives me strength to live in Europe the rest of the time. I believe I would have real problems if, for one reason or another, I couldn’t go back to India. I must say, I have thought about settling permanently in India a few times. I would love to.

Although Claude Renault obtained a degree in sculpture from Ecole des Beaux-Arts, France, his interest in photography flourished after graduating. A self-taught photographer, Renault began his career working as a corporate photographer before going freelance in 1994. In recent years, traveling to India has been his greatest inspiration. His passion for documenting the soul and color of India through his lens is evident in every photo. Renault was a semi-finalist in our 2010 India Photo Contest.

Guest Post: Andi Perullo in Hong Kong

While traveling to China with girlfriends several years ago, we decided to separate for a week. They went to Beijing, a city I had visited twice before, and I went to Hong Kong.  There was only one thing on my agenda: to see an obscure monastery that I had read about and could not get out of my head.

It’s called the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery and—since I have a minor obsession with all things Buddha—I swore to myself that I would visit this place if I were ever in Hong Kong. I could barely find anything online about it. There was hardly any mention of the monastery in the Lonely Planet Hong Kong guidebook either. The description made it sound like it was a place that could be ignored. Thankfully, I didn’t listen to the review. When I finally arrived at the monastery, I quickly discovered that this place simply cannot be missed.

It is vital to get precise directions before you begin your adventure, because you can’t see the monastery from the road that takes you there. It is perched on top of a hill and requires a hike to get to it (expect around a 30-minute walk). The hike began in a bamboo forest and I truly felt like I was in ancient China.

As I approached the top, countless golden Buddha statues began to emerge. They were on either side of the path and each had a different facial expression. Despite its name, the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery actually has more like thirty thousand Buddhas; every year more and more are added.  To be surrounded by that many holy statues evoked such a peaceful feeling within me. I completely forgot that I was in one of the largest cities in the world.

At the top of the hill, I was greeted by a massive pagoda, several temples and even more Buddhas. During my visit, there were no other tourists around; I had the entire place to myself, minus some monks and nuns who were deep in prayer. I spent several hours wandering around and admiring the magnificent grounds. Unfortunately I had to leave earlier than I wanted to since I had a taxi waiting for me and another monastery to check out. However, I will forever remember my experience at Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery thanks to its beauty and serenity. What it made it extra special was that it is a hidden gem—and there are so few of those left in this world!

Andi Perullo was a semi-finalist in our 2010 India Photo Contest. An avid traveler, she has visited about 40 countries…and counting. So far in 2010 Andi has been a Lonely Planet Featured Blogger and her website was voted Top 100 Independent Travel Websites. When she is not exploring the far reaches of the world, Andi practices Chinese Medicine in her hometown of Charlotte, NC.