To extend your skills as a photographer, it’s common to hear:
Buy books (and travel), not gear.
I agree with this directive and would add that travelling to someone new has some distinct advantages that should lead to improvement. When you travel to a new place for just a few days, you can’t see everything. Therefore, you need to make some decisions about what to do (and shoot) and what not to (and not shoot). Weather should be a factor in your decisions. You might get lucky, or you might not. That’s the beauty of the situation, you never know what to expect. You might have a plan or you might not. Either way, having a suitable camera and lens that works for the environment that you’re in will lead to some interesting interactions. Regarding gear, bring back-up by all means. Smartphones count.
How will the locals respond to you? What are the rules of engagement and attitudes of people in this new place? Do I want to shoot people, buildings, food, or all of the above? These are but a few of the questions that you might need to discover when shooting aboard far from home, out of your comfort zone.
This summer I went to Hanoi, Vietnam. It’s an absolutely amazing place. The 1000 year old capital city has about 7 million people and 3 million motorbikes. It’s a blend of old French colonialism and modern day Asia. The food is outstanding and the coffee…out of this world! Their home grown coffee was some of the best I’ve ever had and I’m admittedly a bit of a coffee snob (life’s too short to drink crap).
In this post and third of a series on summer travel, I would like to encourage your travelling to someplace new and make photos there. The mere act of doing so will force you to make all types of decisions that will exercise your brain and get you thinking about photography again in a fresh way. You will meet new people and maybe make some friends. One of the keys to a long and happy life is social connections. It’s not money, or personal possessions, it’s people and connections. Your camera is your passport to friends, happiness, and life. Use it!
Remember, the light is always right.