Photographing Stories of Travels to Europe and Other Getaways

How to Record Those Special Candid Moments in Your Travels

by Brenda Tharp

Modern Carriage Drivers, Italy
Modern Carriage Drivers, Italy
© Brenda Tharp
All Rights Reserved

Tips for Capturing the Special Moments that Tell Stories Of Travels to Europe

Become A People Watcher!
When you've developed your ability to observe people, without staring at them, you will increase your opportunties for capturing candid moments. Develop your skills at people watching by visiting popular locations, such as parks, train stations, airports, or festivals. Those places are the easiest to people watch, without standing out like a voyeur. They are great places to learn how to watch people without being obvious, and it teaches you about gestures, and body language.

A quick cappucino...
A quick cappucino...
© Brenda Tharp
All Rights Reserved
Learn How to Anticipate.
There are certain activities that you can predict will have potential for unique moments, if you think about it. Children playing or interacting with animals bring up some ideas; people bartering or purchasing products in open air markets of the world; festivals around the world; also social events, sports events, and everyday life being played out on the streets of a village somewhere. When traveling, I often 'plant' myself in a spot in a market, and wait for interesting things to happen. I did that for this 'quick cappucino' image; after I had captured the moment, I ordered my own!


"I'll have a Chai Latte, please..."
"I'll have a Chai Latte, please..."
© Brenda Tharp
All Rights Reserved
Become Invisible.
The more you stay in one spot, the more invisible or ignored you'll become, and that's when you can get the most candid images. But you must have the time and the patience to stay put long enough for that to happen. And, if you are one of three people at an outdoor cafe, chances are it will take a while, but if you are one of 7 or more, it won't take as long! The key is to learn how to blend with the crowd. Don't wear flamboyant clothing that draws attention to you if you want to be invisible! Don't do things that draw attention to you. Try to 'blend in' with the crowd.

4. Always have your camera on, and ready.
This may mean in your hand, if you want to be ready for the peak moment of something that you've been observing. By the time you've reached for a camera, or turned it on, you could miss the moment! I was lucky to have mine ready while sipping a cup of coffee in a shop...this little girl was so cute! You just never know what's going to happen next.


Swiss Delight
Swiss Delight
© Brenda Tharp
All Rights Reserved
Be Focused.
Unless you are really good at quickly focussing manually, autofocus is the answer. Remember to move the focus point off-center if possible on your camera, as this way your focused subject will never be 'dead' center in the image. There are ways to set up your focus manually so you are ready to 'grab a photo', but more on that in another article! This little girl 'popped out' of the door when I was photographing the windows - but with my autofocus set off-center, I was able to capture a sharp image of her, as surprised as I was to see her!


Who's talking to whom?
Who's talking to whom?
© Brenda Tharp
All Rights Reserved
Split your personality.
There's a delicate balance between being involved in something and yet being removed enough to anticipate moments and capture them on film. If you are the center of attention, you won't be getting those moments - someone else may get them of you! So remember to be involved, but not be the center of attention. It's a dance, sort of, where you go in and out of conversations, where you learn the fine steps to pulling back to get the shot. It takes practice, but it works!

Practice, practice, practice.
Whether you plan to photograph in Europe, Asia, or the USA, the more comfortable and skilled you are at photographing moments, the more success you will have! Practice in local parks, with people talking, playing, laughing; with old men playing chess, or bocce ball; practice at the local ferry or train station; practice at a local festival or parade. You have all that you need right in your own area for opportunities to develop your observation and anticipation skills. See how these hints are put to creative use in BetterPhoto's "Photo Stories of Travels to Europe and other Outdoor Portraits" gallery.


Go for it and have a great time capturing the antics of humanity!

Article by Brenda Tharp. To learn more about photography, explore the many online photography and Photoshop classes offered here at BetterPhoto.com.