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Your Camera, Another Culture: Best Practices for Travel Photography

You’re off on a once in a lifetime vacation and you’ve packed your digital camera so you can record all your travel memories. What you may not know is that some countries have specific rules on taking pictures at national monuments and public venues, so you need to be aware of the camera culture of other countries so you won’t get into trouble.These are things to keep in mind especially if you are in a foreign country.Here, you will learn a lot about travel photography etiquette.

Travel Photography

Best Practices for Travel Photography

Camera Courtesy Overseas

In many countries, you do not need consent to take photographs of people in a public place. There are however, exceptions such as Brazil, Czech Republic, France, Hungary, Japan, Macau, Slovakia, Spain and Switzerland.

If you wish to publish your pictures either for free or commercially, and they contain people, you will in both cases need their consent.

Be Culturally Sensitive

In some cultures, such as African tribal communities, customs may prevent you from photographing members of the community without first asking permission. If permission is granted, you will usually be expected to hand over a small token of appreciation or a small gift as a trade. For other tribes, it is not quite so simple and you must first become an honorary member. To di this you must participate in an initiation ceremony, then you will be allowed to take pictures. In some cultures it is considered an insult if you photograph people when they are wearing masks or ceremonial clothing.

Public and Private Property knowledge Travel Photography

If you are on public property, such as a pavement, and a private building is visible, you are permitted to take pictures of it. If, however, you are on private property and you have been asked not to take picture, you must respect that rule or risk prosecution. Taking photographs is often prohibited at government facilities were it may be considered a security risk, such as military bases and nuclear plants.

Know your Rights

If you are challenged when taking a photograph of a person or place, you do not have to explain what you are doing, though in many cases it may ease the situation. Unless you are being questioned or detained by law enforcement, you do not have to disclose your identity. If someone tries to take your camera or confiscate your pictures, you do not have to give them up. If they take them by force or behave in a threatening manner towards you, they may be charged with theft or coercion. Even officers of the law need a court order to take your camera and photos.

Earn trust and Respect for Travel Photography

When you’re taking photographs of people in their cultural environment, be sure to gain their trust first. Be patient and talk to them if you can. Get to understand their community. Don’t hide behind your camera. Take your eye form the view finder and make eye contact with your subjects. Always be respectful of people’s traditions, even if they are not your own. Give them a chance to participate by letting them look through your camera lens or show them some of your other photographs in your camera’s memory.

If you are presented with a great photographic opportunity, but you’re not sure if you are allowed to take pictures, always ask first. If your request is declined accept that and move on. Don’t be tempted to try and sneak in a shot. It could get you into all kinds of trouble.

Tips for Traveling With your Camera

When you’re traveling, always make sure you have a worldwide travel charger and extra batteries for your camera. If you’re looking for a new camera or accessories for your current camera, you’ll find them all in one convenient place at the Digital Media Store. Don’t forget to check your memory card. Carrying a flash memory for extra storage is always a good idea.

Carry your camera around in a padded shoulder bag. It’s much more convenient than a backpack, which could be opened by someone else from behind. A good tip is to get some duct tape and cover all signs of the branding on your camera and lenses. This will make it less attractive to thieves. Don’t forget to change your camera strap.

When you’re traveling, clean your camera ever day so you can be sure of good shots and you won’t have any mechanical problems. Have a great trip and use your camera with care and sensitivity and you’ll be sure to come home with some great photographs.

John Stowe is an amateur photographer based in Leeds UK. He got the digital photography bug back in the early 2000’s and has since had many different models of cameras. He loves to share his ideas and thoughts online for others to read

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