Calling all aspiring travel photographers! We consulted Austin Welch about his top tips for those of you hoping to break into the travel photography world. Here’s what he advised:
INVEST IN ADOBE LIGHTROOM AND PHOTOSHOP
This is non-negotiable! I find that, on its own, the camera never fully captures how I remember the location or how people envision it. So I use Photoshop and Lightroom to bring my photos to life. Every aspiring photographer needs to invest in these programs to make their best work. I started by watching YouTube tutorials, then moved on to downloading and experimenting with other photographer’s presets, tweaking them until I arrived at a look I loved. I’m always aiming to have my pictures look like movie stills.
STAY IN HOSTELS WHILE TRAVELING
When visiting other countries, try to stay in hostels. It’s impossible not to make friends in a hostel. There’s always a gathering area full of fellow adventurers each night, and meeting other young travelers is what sets the experience apart from staying at a hotel. Hostels also provide me with a sense of security I just don’t get at an AirBnB, as there’s always a staff member there who will know the area and would know how to help if something went wrong.
NEVER LET YOUR BATTERIES DIE
After letting my batteries die when I was two hours from my destination in Tokyo, I never make the mistake of having uncharged gear. Invest in a portable USB charger so that, no matter how crowded the airport is, you have a place to plug in.
ALWAYS BE SHOOTING
Daylight waits for no one, so never stop shooting. I’ve slept in on trips or went back to the hostel early because it started to rain, when, in reality, I probably missed the best photos of the trip. Timing and luck accounts for a lot of the best shots, so take as many photos as possible. If you see something worth shooting, take the picture. Take multiples. In a city like Tokyo or Paris, every second can create a different look.
Always be willing to change course. If it starts raining, I pack up my drone and pull out my smartphone. The best pictures I have from Tokyo were taken in the rain.
LIVE OUT OF YOUR CARRY-ON
Condense your gear so that you can fit everything in your carry-on. I pack my drone and still have room for a laptop and camera all in the same carry-on-sized bag. And I then use the same bag when I go out to shoot. Plus, as a travel photographer, the benefit of having your camera in your carry-on is that you can easily grab it and snap a photo when a moment presents itself. Every moment — from your time in the airport to your stay in a hotel to your actual destination — can be creatively captured.
And remember that you have always have a camera at your disposal with your smartphone. People ask me all the time, “What camera do you use?” And the answer is always, “My iPhone.”