Photography: Is it your primary or secondary priority?

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by TwoWheels, May 7, 2015.

  1. TwoWheels

    TwoWheels Mu-43 Top Veteran

    May 28, 2014
    British Columbia
    On my last couple trips, I’ve been thinking about the compromises that are made when the primary purpose of a trip (whether a day trip or extended travel) is not photography. In most cases, I have travel and activities planned with family or friends and I take the best pictures I can to document them. I don’t normally go on outings or trips planned around a primary objective of taking pictures. I see some amazing photos on this forum, and I’m wondering whether most of you have photography as your primary or secondary activity.

    I just returned from a trip to Arizona and the Grand Canyon with my son. I was generally satisfied with the results of my photography given the circumstances, but I’m also aware of how much better my photos could be if my trip was planned around photography rather than fitting in my picture taking around the trip.

    Just as an example...The most beautiful area of the Grand Canyon was around the Colorado River. We passed over at mid-day when the sun was high overhead, the lighting was brutal and we had miles of climbing yet to go. I took some quick shots and I did what I could in post processing to salvage things. I came away with some photos that preserve the memories and better than snapshots, but they aren’t great photos.


    Alternatively, while we were in Sedona for a few days mountain biking, I managed to sneak away for an evening when I had time to think and get absorbed in trying to take a good picture.


    I wouldn’t change anything if I could. I love traveling with family and friends--riding, hiking, exploring--and they think my photos are great even when they aren’t! I’m just curious whether my experience is typical or whether most of you have photography as your primary focus. Do you have any tips or suggestions about how to better merge photography with other activities?
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  2. dornblaser

    dornblaser Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 13, 2012
    David Dornblaser
    I love traveling but photography has never been my primary focus. It is a way for me to capture the moment. It is a big plus that photography is also fun!

    I think that your pictures are just fine by the way.
  3. CiaranCReilly

    CiaranCReilly Mu-43 Veteran

    Oct 18, 2012
    Ciaran Reilly
    I think your experience is typical, although the odd time I do travel somewhere with the intention of photography I find I sometimes get bored quickly! Probably points to good company being more important than achieving perfection in photography, and that the act and challenge of catching a sneaky photo while in company is fun in itself.
  4. brettmaxwell

    brettmaxwell Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 8, 2012
    For me, m4/3 is perfect for most of life when photography is secondary. When I'm heading out with photography as the primary purpose, I typically bring my Nikon FX kit.

    Still, one good method for travel photography with family is to establish with them that you go off and do your own thing every evening for an hour. You can get the casual photos all day, but best to take some dedicated time when the light is (typically) best.
    • Agree Agree x 2
  5. tyrphoto

    tyrphoto Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 25, 2014
    Seoul | NYC
    It really depends on the purpose of the vacation. If it's a vacation to spend time with loved ones, then I'm perfectly happy being in snapshot mode where it doesn't intrude on anyone. One reason why I never take a tripod on non-photo vacations and keep my camera bag to a bare minimum.

    IMO, photography should never supersede the actual firsthand experience whether it be time spent with loved ones or enjoying the surroundings. Rather, it should be a captured reminder of the event and time spent. The only exception is if you're being paid on assignment.
    • Agree Agree x 3
  6. T N Args

    T N Args Agent Photocateur

    Dec 3, 2013
    Adelaide, Australia
    call me Arg
    Secondary Purpose, Primary Activity

    Let me break that down.

    Purpose. My primary purpose is to experience the place I am in. I don't go somewhere to take photographs, I go somewhere to be there. (I'm talking about long trips here: as far as local trips are concerned, I often go to a local area primarily to take photos. That's different.) Incidentally, my photography is better for having such a primary purpose.

    Activity. When I am primarily doing anything other than photography when traveling, my photography inevitably stinks. Hiking a trail, riding a bike, even driving a car; photos I stop and take 'on the way' -- tend to look like what they are: rushed, wrong viewpoint, wrong time of day, often seeming to lack sensitivity towards my subject. For me, photography cannot be my secondary activity while taking photographs.

    Because of my feeble inadequacy to make a strong image while doing something else, I think it's better to put aside blocks of time for photography while doing a trip that has some other primary activity. That's just me.
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    • Agree Agree x 1
  7. TwoWheels

    TwoWheels Mu-43 Top Veteran

    May 28, 2014
    British Columbia
    It sounds like we have some of the same perspectives and priorities.

    Well said. Sometimes I have to remind myself to look up from the camera, take a deep breath and soak in the moment.

    Some of mine resemble that as well. I just call those documentary photos. :) 
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  8. Jfrader

    Jfrader Guest

    I do both.

    Some trips are for the experience - to see new places, experience new cultures, share it all with family and friends and so on. In those cases, I do the best I can to take good photos as the opportunity presents but the trip is the priority. We are out and about at reasonable times, spend much of our time just visiting places - often places that don't allow tripods or flashes - and pretty much just be travelers, not photographers. On the other hand, some trips are specifically for photography. I go alone, plan ahead where and what I want to see in general but leave some wiggle room for new things I discover along the way. On those trips, I will be doing the landscape photographer thing, obsessing over the "golden hours" - up well before dawn, set up in the dark and be done by 9:00 am or so. Then I am back out in late afternoon until well after sun down. The middle parts of the days are for traveling to the next destination, photo sorting and processing or resting, since I am usually short of sleep. Of the two, I am always much more thrashed during and after the second but my photos are always better. I get hyper focused and would not make a good travel companion. My family and friends love the images I bring back from my solo adventures but only want to come along on the other, less photo-centric trips.

    I think both ways are equally valid. Being retired gives me the time to do both. If I was still working and still had kids at home, I'd undoubtedly have to choose the less focused method. I am fortunate to be able to do both.
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  9. MassimoFoti

    MassimoFoti Mu-43 Regular

    Mar 27, 2014
    Lugano (Switzerland)
    Same for me, just have Canon for full-frame.
  10. gryphon1911

    gryphon1911 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 13, 2014
    Central Ohio, USA
    I do the same.
  11. Holoholo55

    Holoholo55 Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 13, 2014
    Honolulu, HI
    Great responses. Like most with families, I do most of my travel with family, and photography is secondary. I try to take opportunities to take good photographs while we're out and about but not at the expense of family. I'm not the artistic photographer, but I try to make good ones. Documenting our activities and the things we see is the primary photographic purpose, but enjoying the sights and our time together is the primary trip purpose.
    • Like Like x 1
  12. Tilman Paulin

    Tilman Paulin Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 10, 2013
    I really like that first shot. (actually prefer it a bit over the second :)  ) It captures the moment of hiking there nicely and how it would feel to be there on a nice day. Much better than a "stunning" shot at Golden Hour would - (and I'm sure there's already plenty of those to be found online)
    Most of my photography is like that too. I rarely (if ever) go out specifically to photograph... and have never "planned out" locations or time of day.

    Try to make the moment count and then try to make some photos that recall these feelings for you and your family when you look at them later.
    What more could you want? :) 

    And if you go out often enough and keep your eyes open, you'll inevitably make some "photographers shots" too... At least I think that worked for me :) 

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  13. D7k1

    D7k1 Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Nov 18, 2013
    I do a lot of photography trips (retired) and find the meetup groups a great source of photography focused folks to image with. My EP5 was bought specifically as a "family" travel camera. My last photo trip involved flying and the EP5 got the call. 6 days, 1400 images plus several hundred videos (many now on Istock).
  14. TwoWheels

    TwoWheels Mu-43 Top Veteran

    May 28, 2014
    British Columbia
    That was my plan and why I got my GM1, as my travel/adventure camera. I have a Canon 7D and have been planning to upgrade to a 5Dmkiii when they get cheap enough. Now, I'm not so sure. I find myself using the GM1 everywhere (except for soccer photography). All I really miss is a viewfinder. I am asking myself whether I would actually use a FF camera and whether a next generation EM1 would work for everything. But that's another thread....

    Nothing. :2thumbs:
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