Today I attended a National Geographic Traveler seminar on Travel Photography presented by Aaron Huey and Catherine Karnow. I knew I was in the right place when they stated up front it was about storytelling and proceeded to emphasize things like emotion, energy, motion, action, characters and moments. This was not an event to learn how to operate a camera or make better technical images. It was about passion, it was about people and other characters that provide a sense of place. It was about telling a story with images. In their case, the images go with a written article in the magazine but time after time they showed us images that told a story with or without the written words.
I left with the usual side-effects of a great seminar — I wanted to go buy some gear, I wanted to run right out and start taking pictures, I wanted to travel — but it also made a lasting impression that I will be consciously practicing. I got the message that I need to work hard at including people in my photos to better tell the story. I’m an architecture, details, landscape and nature photographer by habit and experience. If I’m doing a portrait or ad I am in control and I direct the talent to produce the result I need. But when I’m in a foreign land, wandering among the locals and other travelers, I don’t get in the middle of the people and interact with them, I shoot them from afar, if at all. I need to change that and will be practicing, practicing and practicing more.
Boston was essentially sold out. The only other instance of this event scheduled right now is in Philadelphia on March 18, 2012. Registration closes soon. I’m not sure if there are seats left but if you are interested: http://ngtravelerseminars.com/travel/
If you’re not familiar with Aaron Huey and his walk across the U.S. with his dog, Cosmo, and their cart they called “the comet”: http://www.aaronhuey.com/#/walk-across-america/snapshots-of-aaron-and-cosmo/walk_snap_043