Pro Techniques

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Maynard Switzer Posted: Dec 23, 2011 Published: Nov 01, 2011 5 comments
The last thing I ever want to do is pose someone. On my travels I want pictures of people acting naturally, doing what they normally do, and if they acknowledge the camera at all, or pause for a portrait, I want them to do it in the most natural way. The people I photograph are always aware of me, but I never want them to play to the camera—which can be tricky because the very presence of the camera changes the situation.
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Blaine Harrington Posted: Jun 24, 2014 Published: May 01, 2014 0 comments
The roads I follow as a travel photographer mostoften lead me to landmarks and landscapes, festivals and events, people and cultures. But not always. As you can see from the photos here, I consider photographing wildlife one of the requirements of a successful travel photographer.
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Maynard Switzer Posted: Oct 19, 2011 Published: Sep 01, 2011 1 comments
You’d think that with the variety of gear available today, I’d be able to find exactly what I want. Well, for the major stuff, like cameras and lenses, I pretty much can, but when it comes to several key accessories, call me The Modifier.
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Maynard Switzer Posted: Aug 23, 2011 Published: Jul 01, 2011 1 comments
I got a brand-new piece of gear shortly before I left in late February for a three-week trip to Vietnam. Not a camera, lens, or flash; it was more important than those. You see, I’m always looking for easier, lighter, faster, and more secure backup for my photos when I travel, and I’d heard for almost a year that this one, this new backup hard drive, was coming, and as luck or perfect timing would have it, it arrived two days before I left. (Because I’m always looking for something better, the camera store in New York City that I deal with, Foto Care, is on the lookout for anything that might interest me; they know I travel, and they’re always telling me about the latest and greatest that’s coming along.)
Maynard Switzer Posted: Aug 29, 2013 Published: Jul 01, 2013 1 comments
For almost a year I planned for the 22-day trip I took this past January to photograph among the indigenous people of Ethiopia. I did a lot of research so I’d know what to expect and how to deal with everything from the customs of the country to the weather and the traveling conditions. Also, I’d have a driver and a guide, and along the way I’d pick up local guides who’d know the ins and outs of specific villages, tribes, and dialects.
Maynard Switzer Posted: Aug 27, 2012 Published: Jul 01, 2012 2 comments
Often people will ask me, “How do you get that great color in your photos?” I appreciate the compliment, but it’s usually followed by, “You must do a lot of retouching.” Actually I don’t. I will do a little color enhancement, but how color looks in my images has to do partly with how I set certain camera controls, how I control or use lighting in the scene, and how I compose the photograph.
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Blaine Harrington Posted: May 06, 2014 Published: Mar 01, 2014 0 comments
The picture of the Buddhist nun drinking tea in the Drepung Monastery in Tibet was going to be perfect. The light coming in through a window behind her was capturing the texture of her skin and casting a glow on the tea and the rising steam, and from my training in studio photography I knew how rarely light like this happens in real life. But by the time I’d asked for and received permission to take the photo, the moment had passed: she’d finished her tea and was about to move from the light. So now, along with permission to take the photo, I had to get permission to recreate it.
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Blaine Harrington Posted: Mar 07, 2014 Published: Jan 01, 2014 0 comments
I’ve seen my share, and I expect you have too, of people who basically spray the area hoping to get a keeper. I’ve also seen photographers who wait…wait…and wait some more to catch that decisive moment. I’m neither of those types. I think of what I do as mindful shooting: I know what I want the photo to look like; I preconceive and previsualize the moment; I control the situation as much as I can to get that moment; and I’m prepared to work with what I’m given and what I can’t control in order to get a good result.
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Press Release Posted: Jun 27, 2012 Published: May 01, 2012 6 comments
In early February I went to Cuba for 10 days of photography. Long before I left I knew what I wanted to accomplish. I’d been to Cuba 10 years before, so I knew the basics of what I’d see and what I could expect. This time I narrowed down what I wanted to photograph. I wanted to shoot mostly in the old section of Havana and in the city of Trinidad. People would be my main subjects—people on the streets, in their homes, going about their lives. In Old Havana I wanted to work in the late afternoon and early evening; in Trinidad I wanted to capture people against colorful backgrounds. On this trip there wouldn’t be open country where I’d be shooting landscapes or people working in the fields; there’d be no wide-open spaces, no photos of tobacco fields or expanses of sugar cane.
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Maynard Switzer Posted: Feb 07, 2013 Published: Jan 01, 2013 1 comments
At one time or another we’re all tourists somewhere. There’s even the old suggestion that to be a better travel photographer you might pretend to be a tourist in your own hometown. Seek out points of interest and find unusual ways of photographing them and you’re on your way to better images when you get to Paris, London, Toronto, New York, or wherever you’ll someday be headed.
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Blaine Harrington Posted: Dec 27, 2013 Published: Nov 01, 2013 0 comments
Early on I lived in Paris, shooting fashion photography. I saw all the iconic places and landmarks, of course, and observed hundreds of people shooting them. When I became a travel photographer, my initial thought was to shoot lots of subjects other than the icons; to make untypical, evocative images of marketplaces, shop fronts, and unexpected details. Pretty quickly I found out the icons defined a place, and even more important, the icons made the money.
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Maynard Switzer Posted: Jun 17, 2011 Published: May 01, 2011 2 comments
Right from the start it sounded like it was going to be a challenge. In late summer last year I was hired by the Taiwan tourist bureau for a 10-day shoot to take pictures for a travel magazine advertorial. Since I’d never been to Taiwan before, and my usual way of working is to make all my own plans, schedules, and lists of places to shoot, I did some research as soon asI got the assignment. What I found wasn’t promising.
Maynard Switzer Posted: Mar 01, 2010 0 comments

One of the things I always try to do when I’m planning a trip is check out the events calendars of the cities and towns I’ll be visiting to see what sort of festivals might be taking place. Sometimes I’ll even rearrange my schedule to make sure I hit those places at the right time; that’s how important it is for me to take advantage of these photo opportunities. Images of...

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Maynard Switzer Posted: Sep 01, 2010 0 comments

In my last column I talked about fixers—the guide/translators who smooth the way and open the doors so I can get the photographs. They’re important when it comes to photographing people, especially when I don’t speak the language, which is most of the time. But while I don’t always have a fixer, I have my people skills.

The most...

Maynard Switzer Posted: Jan 01, 2010 0 comments

My route to travel photography was not direct, but looking back, I realize the direction was set fairly early.

While attending the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, I got a chance to spend a semester break photographing in Arkansas at the oldest bluegrass festival in the US. I never forgot how much I’d enjoyed photographing the festival and the local...

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