Travel Photography: Socializing

An important part of travel photography is capturing people while they're socializing. Photographers will need a good digital camera, lots of memory cards and a wide angle lens for most of these activities.

Step 1: Identify What Is Socializing

Socializing is quite different than business transactions. This is just people talking on a street corner, or kids playing with their friends.  But, if photographers do not live in the country where they are visiting, they may not recognize the standard behaviors of normal socialization of that culture.

Photographers are going to be tasked with identifying the social norms of a culture. Do women interact directly with men here? Or, do they generally socialize amongst themselves? Is there a gathering spot for everyone? Or, are meeting spots spontaneous?

Step 2: Get out of the Tourist Spots

Before a photographer can even start capturing real social activities between real people, a photographer is going to have to leave the major tourist destinations. Most natives do not hang out where tourists are known to frequent. This is the same no matter what country a person is from.

Step 3: Ditch the Camera for a Day

Once a photographer is away from the tourist area, the camera needs to remain at the hotel for awhile. People usually don't act normal when a camera is present, and they definitely won't interact with the photographer. 

So, a photographer should try walking around the city without the camera for at least a couple of hours. A day, however, would be the best since it will give the photographer more time to scope out where locals gather. And, oftentimes, a local will speak to someone who does not appear to be a tourist.

Photographers should go to local markets, eateries and other gathering places and try mingling. Talk to locals and get to know where they and their friends go. Further, natives are more likely to go along with having their picture taken if they have gotten to know the photographer.

Step 4: Techniques

Once photographers have scoped out where the locals hang out, it's time to start taking pictures. Cameras with facial recognition software work great for these settings since they will focus on the subjects' faces.  If not, the photographer will have to manually focus on the faces.

If people are sitting, get down to their level. Try shooting from the hip, which means that a photographer will shoot at a lower level, generally around the hip. Most people won't even realize that they're being photographed. Use a wide angle lens for group shots, as this will capture more of the scene.

For dancing or other fast-moving shots, set the camera to Action or Continuous Shooting mode to try to get as much of the action as possible. The Action setting will usually compensate for both fast-moving images and low light, increasing the ISO and shutter speed.

Photographers should interact with the subjects as much as possible. This may cause them to laugh or smile at the camera.