Join David Hobby for an in-depth discussion in this video A roadmap for the course, part of The Traveling Photographer: Fundamentals.
20 years ago, I was fairly green. I was shooting film. Black and white film actually, to be specific. And this, this was my classroom. The light table was where photographers hung out and got social. And that's why we're starting here. We would spend hours literally looking at our negatives over, over the light table through the loop. And you might be editing your film. And another photographer would come up and start editing her film or his film, and you'd just start talking. Like, Oh, oh, check this out. What do you think of this? Oh, what do you think of that? And you throw stuff back and forth.
It's one of those weird constructs. Like, like you feel weird walking down the street in your bathing suit. But, it's completely normal to be in your bathing suit at the beach. The light table is that, when it comes to photographers trading information. We're, we're kind of insecure, typically. And, we kind of, hold things close to the vest. But, when we get to the light table, it's all about, like, oh, how did you do that? Oh, I like to know how to. And, you move things, back and forth. So, this is like, the selfishness ends here. So that's why we're starting at the light table. And I'm very excited to kind of bring you into this 20-years-on environment as a, as a news photographer.
So, speaking of that, 20 years since, I've done a lot of travel. I've traveled as a professional photographer on assignment. And that has a certain construct to it. I have traveled as a photo instructor. And that has been a fascinating experience. Because if you think about it, you've got a professional, quote, professional instructor traveling with a dozen, quote, amateur photographers. And I put quotes on that because it's really, it's a continuum. And we're going to be all up and down that continuum for this course.
But what they're doing is they're watching me and trying to learn from me. And, and I'm teaching them the best I can. What I'm doing is, well let me put it this way, like we're watching you. You're in the fish bowl. We are watching you day and night. We're learning from you. We're thinking, oh, oh, that's not going to work well for them. Or, oh man that's a fantastic tip. I never would of thought of that. And I expected to be teaching photographers when I was an instructor on, on, on travel based courses. What happened more than not. And in fact, what happened every single time. Is I came away feeling like I learned more from the dozen or so photographers I was with, than maybe they learned from me.
Of course, they're are 12 of them and one of me. So maybe that makes sense. But, I learned good things from those photographers and I learned some bad things from those photographers too. I saw photographers that were literally under such self-imposed pressure. That even travelling to the coolest destinations in the world with some fantastic camera gear. Left them feeling stressed and, and upset and, and like unable to enjoy themselves. One really good example I can give you, is a good friend of mine who travelled with me to Havana, Cuba earlier this year.
And a couple days into the trip he's just, he's not himself. And my first thought was, you know, are you getting the rest you need, are you dehydrated, you know, all the classic stuff. And, and he actually came to me and said, look I gotta tell you I'm feeling a lot of pressure. And I'm not handling it great. And it's just like I'm in, I'm in Havana. It's like the coolest city that people in the United States never get to go to. And, and I've got my Nikons with me. I got all the gear that I need. And I'm feeling the pressure to come back with great pictures. And it really hit me at that point. And frankly, that's when I started thinking about teaching this class.
That a lot of photographers put unnecessary pressure on themselves. Just because they're someplace cool and just because they've got a good camera. And you know, dang it you better make some good pictures or you've failed. I just kind of to take him aside and shake him by the shoulders. And say dude, you're in Havana. You know, you're, you're a photographer, you got your cameras with you. But first, you're in Havana. This is an amazing city, just drop back and do, enjoy it. Do the things you want to do in Havana. And while you're at it, make some cool pictures. Don't put any pressure on yourself.
You're not working for anybody. You don't have a picture editor. Enjoy the trip first. And that's probably the biggest thing that I've taken away from, from teaching groups of photographers. Now, it's not all, hey, shake you by the shoulders and tell you some stuff. Frankly, I've learned some amazing things from photographers that I've travelled with. That I never would have thought of, in 20 years plus of shooting as a professional. And, and that's a cool thing too. And I cannot wait to share some of that stuff with you. I suspect that there are some things coming that you had no idea about. And, and I'm really looking forward to clueing you into some of those, those secrets.
I've travelled alone, as an amateur photographer. Not as a professional and not on an assignment. That's a completely different experience. And we'll bring stuff from that experience to this course. But maybe most important, important of all is, is, I've travelled many times as a family member. Like, I'm the guy with camera in my family. I'm the dad, I'm the spouse. You know, we got the kids there. And it's a cool dynamic. Like we said before, you are on a trip and everything is different and everything is compressed. Personal space, time, life experience, all that kind of stuff.
And this is when photography can go either way. This is when your photography can just incredibly amp that experience or it can kill the experience. It can be like the focal point of the running argument with your wife the entire time, or your husband the entire time. So we're really going to put a lot of thought into that dynamic. And what we’re essentially going to do, is to try to pull the best parts of all those experiences. And, bring together an ethic in our mind with which we can approach travel photography and, make things a lot better.
And that’s not just about the experience, but that’s about pictures too. Remember, we’ll be stealing from the idea about being a pro. And I want you to go out armed with the knowledge that you need. And I want you to be able to shoot efficiently. And I want you to be able to, to enjoy your trip. Those are all equally important things. In fact, the enjoying your trip is probably the most important thing. So we're going to take all those pieces, meld them together. And hopefully find something cool in between.
You'll learn to plan effectively, choose the right gear, interact with the people you meet, take photographs efficiently, and—most importantly—create the mental space and time to actually enjoy your journey. David visits some nearby interesting destinations, proving that a great travel experience is not always about a far-flung destination. Along the way, you'll learn how to "decode" any city as a true traveling photographer.
Ready to explore more exotic locales? Check out The Traveling Photographer: Hong Kong.
- Thinking like a photographer while traveling
- Choosing gear wisely
- Balancing travel with photography
- Taking time to craft an image
- Being a chameleon
- Meeting people
- Managing photos from a trip