Top 6 Tips For Taking Beautiful Cultural Photos

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When you travel, you learn so much about a country’s culture. Not only that, but it’s also almost close to impossible for you to travel without taking photos, especially when you’re an enthusiast. 

Photography now forms a big part of travel. There’s that desire to share your experiences and the new culture that you immersed in with your family and friends waiting back home. 

Taking photos is also an excellent way to take a still memory and encapsulate cultural events. After all, great stories can often begin through the images that you’ve taken.

As you’ve had the privilege of experiencing other cultures of the world, it’s also your responsibility to take good photos of it. Go beyond just the thought of sharing it on your social media sites. Your photos should bring justice to how beautiful the cultural experience was in real life.

To start with, watch this video also on photography tips, before reading through below

That said, here are some tips that can bring you towards taking beautiful cultural photos.

1. Get Permission

Even if you’re only going to use the photos for your consumption, you can never go wrong with asking permission of a person, in particular. For example, a native wearing their costume, or a member of a cultural tribe. It boils down to a matter of civility and respect. 

Once you’ve gained their full permission to photograph other people, you can also move freely and take your time in whatever angle you deem best. You don’t have to feel afraid that your attention will be called out.

If you wish to catch a particular movement or expression, take the photo right away. Then, remember to ask permission later on by showing them the images and asking if it’s alright for you to keep it in your files. When they smile, you know you’ve got your answer.

2. Never Rely Only On Your Assumptions

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When you’ve already taken a photo, it can be effortless for you to make assumptions about what you see in the picture. Especially when you’re going to post this on your blog, never make a story that didn’t exist in the first place. When you have the photo, always ask yourself, “What do I know for certain that’s in this photo?”

Since you’re taking cultural photos, stick only to what’s in the frame and the circumstances that led before you were able to take the picture. Do your research, ask questions, and know deeper about the culture, beyond merely just taking photos. 

Click here for more tips as to how to narrate stories through your photos, without creating your own assumptions, as you post photos on your website or social media sites.

3. Be Patient

This tip may seem like an obvious one, but when you’re taking cultural photos, always be patient. Even when you’ve already asked permission, it can still take time for certain tribes, for instance, to warm up. Perhaps even, when a movement is going on, such as a dance, it can be challenging for you to take that perfect photo.

When you’re taking cultural photographs, this isn’t the place for you to be in a rush. Take it easy, and never rush anything.

4. Educate Yourself Also About The Culture

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Image – Photo by pavan gupta

When you know that you’re going to be traveling to a particular place, it’s expected that you’ll also have in mind a list of cultural experiences or facets that you’d like to become the subject of your photography. When you have this in mind, go even deeper by educating yourself about the culture that you’re going to take photos of.

For instance, even when you ask permission, there may be certain events or rituals wherein it’s always disrespectful to take photos. So, don’t even bother trying. Save your camera’s battery for other cultural events. 

5. Shoot Early In The Morning

Shooting early in the morning always brings with it so many advantages that also has to do with the natural light. This is still an asset that’ll make your cultural photos look even better. The rising sun creates that warm glow on the everyday life of people, as they prepare for the day. Hence, you’re able to create more life and drama into an otherwise lifeless still.

As you shoot in natural light, do your best also to preserve the authenticity of the photos, as much as you can. You cal also read more resources about apps that can give you the best, but only minimal edits on your photos.

6. Be As Inconspicuous As Possible

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Image – Photo by Hassan Wasim

When you’re invited to the home of another, is it not that you don’t immediately sit in the nicest chair available? The same practice should also apply when you travel and take cultural photos. Remember, that country isn’t your home, and it isn’t your culture. 

While the locals will know and see you as a tourist, this doesn’t mean that you should always take the forefront in exchange for beautiful photos.

Keep still and quiet when you’re taking cultural photos. Then, use the flash as sparingly as possible. If you can go without it, then so much the better. Especially when you’re in a sacred and peaceful atmosphere, you wouldn’t want to be the cause of disruption in their cultural life.

Conclusion

All these said and highlighted, the bottom line is in the act of taking photos that are respectful of the culture that they belong to. When beautiful moments are captured around the world, you’ll want to ensure that these stay with the great photos, as frozen memories in time. 

In doing so, you’re able to share rich cultural experiences with everyone else that sees your photos. Henceforth, for the very next time that you take cultural photos, keep these tips enumerated above in mind.

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