It Doesn’t Have To Be This Way


When visiting a new place for the first time I have the propensity to shoot it the way I see it; this is a trap I don’t like falling into. I take out my camera, glue the shutter to f/8 and take crummy tourist shots of the big sights. I load these frames into the computer and exhale deeply as I click DELETE over and over and over again.

I don’t do this all the time, of course. Sometimes I hit the ground running and I’m feeling creative and the stars align and the sun cooperates, etc. etc. etc… but sometimes none of these things happen and I shoot flat, lifeless images. This usually doesn’t last more than a day, but sometimes it does.

I felt this way when we arrived in San Francisco. Granted, we had just ended a whirlwind five month tour of half a dozen countries and I was feeling a little burnt out, but nevertheless I wasn’t wearing my creative pants for the first few days in town. I could have solved this by consulting my handy Travel Checklist, but I neglected to do that. I could have scoured the interwebs for inspiration, but I neglected to do that, too. Instead I forged on through the afternoon sun shooting this and shooting than and largely feeling non-plused about the whole situation.

Another solution to defeating the tourist blues is to shoot with the intention of creating a cohesive portfolio of a place. Sounds like a no-brainer, but it can really help you dig yourself out of any rut. First thing you might want to consider is throwing your zoom lens into your camera bag – the lazy maker doesn’t help when you’re uninspired – and affixing a prime lens to your camera body. Forget about shooting random things here and there for a few hours and focus on one particular style; street, portraits, architectural design, food – whatever floats your boat, really. Just find a focus and work until you have a half dozen images you’re proud of. Nine times out of ten this cures me of the Day One Tourist Blues and I’m back at it.

I was in San Fran around the same time as one of my favorite photographers, isayx3 on flickr and Plain Joe on the mighty interwebs, posted this SF set right here. It’s cohesive, succinct and creative. Shot with a trio of lenses – all primes – shot with the same tonality and colour palette in mind. To say that I was inspired would be an understatement. Seeing someone else succeed where I was having trouble was enough to rouse me from my funk and get me working again. 

Short and sweet today. To summarize; focus. Motivate. Inspire. It’s easy to lose your head or feel overwhelmed when shooting this wild world of ours. It’s even easier to get back on track again.


3 thoughts on “It Doesn’t Have To Be This Way

  1. Hi, just wanted to say that I thought this was a great post. I’m traveling to Iceland in a couple weeks and will certainly keep you recommendations in mind when I pull out my camera to take some shots. I hate falling into the touristy trap! Thanks for the tips!
    – Nate

    • Right on, Nate!
      Iceland – that’s on my list for later this year. Can’t wait to see what you come away with from out there!

  2. Hey Flash

    True, true words my friend. Creative have block happens so, so often; especially when you are fighting against the wear and tear of travel it can be hard to add that creative element to your pictures. Your first paragraph has happened to me all to often (especially considering I am novice), but then you only need one special shot for redemption haha…

    I think another thing that your piece makes reference to is how valuable it can be to explore and browse pictures of a said place, city or landmark by people who have been there before, before you go. For both information and inspiration. I always do this….

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