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10 Tips for Capturing the Essence of Cultural Photography

Posted by Jacob Hawthorne on

Cultural photography makes for terrific images. It offers a unique outlook that people aren’t likely to see every day.

If you are doing a cultural photography shoot, you want to capture the essence of what you are photographing. Here are a few tips that will help you achieve that goal.

Look for Culture in the Unexpected

If you are in a foreign country, it goes without saying that you will want to take pictures of major landmarks. But culture can come up in unexpected places like back-alley streets and roads less traveled. Keep your eyes open so you don’t miss out.

Show Contrast in Light, Color and Texture

Cultures often integrate rich textures and vibrant colors. When shooting pictures, photographers commonly focus on light, but to make a cultural picture come alive, it’s important to consider color and texture as well.

Photograph From Your Perspective

Try to add elements to your photographs that will immerse the viewer into the scene. For instance, if you are in a busy marketplace, you may photograph a vendor handing you an item. This will make it seem as if the viewer is being handed the item directly.

Capture Different Angles

Think outside the box by shooting from different angles making sure to capture side views and overheads. You never know what unusual content you may unearth.

Make Sure to Ask Permission

When you are taking pictures of people you don’t know, you always run the risk of offending them. The likelihood of that happening increases when you’re in a country you’re not familiar with.

It’s advisable to hold up your camera and gesture before taking a picture. This is a universal sign that asks the subject permission to take the photo before doing so. It will be effective in reducing the risk of any unpleasant situations.

Look for Unique Patterns

Unique patterns always make great pictures. With many interesting details in different cultures, you are bound to find terrific patterns if you look around you.

Simplify Things When They Become Overwhelming

If you are photographing a busy scene such as a parade or ceremony, you may begin to get overwhelmed by all that’s going on and it may be too much detail for your picture. Instead of trying to capture everything, focus in on one person or feature.

Combine Techniques

Combining techniques can be effective in any type of photography and it is a great way to make your cultural photography come alive. For example, if you are taking an overhead photo, consider integrating a full frame technique. This will provide an expansive image at an interesting angle.

Find Dominant Colors

Many cultures are full of colors. Try to capture hues to create a mood in your photos. For instance, if you find a blue building or statue, it may produce a blue reflection that will shade skin tones. If you can integrate even more blue subject matter, you will get a nice, mellow vibe for your photo.

Different cultures have so much to offer. The tips in this article will help you capture the essence of your subject matter, so they come alive in the print. What do you do to make the most of your cultural photography?


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