Although Ken Lee has professionally shot commercials, weddings, concerts, and other types of photography, his favorite work is travel photography. His Top Five Photography Tips are geared accordingly.
Lee is a Los Angeles-based photographer, with assignments which have sent him around the world, from the Himalayas to the Andes, from Burma to Kashmir. His tips include respect of local language and the importance of multiple digital backups, among others.
Ken Lee’s Top Five Photography Tips
- Make a strong connection with people you’re considering photographing. Learn the language of the country you are visiting, or at least a few words. This will often earn respect of people, particularly if it’s a more obscure language, and serves as a wonderful ice-breaker, helping you to connect. Good manners and respect also go a long way. I’ve had people invite me to their homes, their temples, or their place of work simply because I learned a few words in their native language and showed interest in who they were. Making these connections will help you capture the spirit of the people, achieving far better photos than the priciest cameras.
- Don’t get too hung up photographic equipment. Make the most with what you have, learning it inside out, making it an extension of you. Even modest equipment can achieve stunning photographs. I’ve photographed Jimmy Page with a five year old Nikon D50 with no flash attachment simply because it’s what I had at the time. If something consistently impedes what you do, of course upgrade if you have the money. But always remember simply owning a camera of any sort is a privilege that most people in the world never get to have, and keep that in perspective.
- Since I do travel photography, I am always walking around, frequently hiking to remote corners of the globe. Because of this, I travel light. I also like to capture the spontaneity of the moment. Rather than have multiple lenses, I prefer to have a “walkabout lens”. I use an 18-200mm telephoto lens, which enables me to capture what is happening faster than lugging several lenses and having to change them. Sure, the quality may not be quite as good as a fixed lens, but it’s far better than missing a fantastic shot.
- Consider getting a good quality digital compact camera. I own a Leica DLux 4, which does very well in low-light situations for a compact camera, but cameras such as the Canon G11 or four thirds cameras would also work well. I find a compact enables me to be lower-key, attracting less attention, allowing me to get more candid photos. It also fits in my pocket, letting me be more mobile and spontaneous. And perhaps most importantly, I’m far less of a target for theft, and when photographing in certain parts of the world, this can possibly save your life.
- Back up all your photos as often and as soon as possible, whether on a storage device, laptop, USB drive or CD-R, or by uploading it to a remote site. I sometimes will mail home the copies I’ve backed up on a USB drive or CD-R; after all, what good is a back-up copy if it gets lost or stolen along with your luggage? Also, use smaller SD cards in your camera. If your card becomes corrupt, lost, or stolen, you’ve lost fewer photos than if you had all your photos on one card.
You can learn more about Ken and his work at the following links.