Photography Tips

The photographs you take during your study abroad experience could easily become some of your most treasured possessions, not to mention you might like to submit them to the Study Abroad Photo Contest or send them in when the Reves Center puts out a call for photographs for its many publications.

To make the most of your photographic opportunities, keep the following guidelines in mind:

  • Ask people before taking pictures of them, or their children. Always treat people with dignity and respect, whether they agree to be photographed by your or not.
  • When you are finished shooting for the day, write down notes on each photograph. Where were you? Who were you with? What had happened just before you took the shot? Who is featured in each frame?
  • Look at guidebooks and local postcards to get a sense of the most photographed locations in your area. Decide if you would like to shoot them, and think about how you can make your shot distinct from all the others.
  • Allow yourself a number of “safe” shots to ensure that you get photographs of well-known views, then engage your creativity and explore surprising compositions. Consider the angle of your shots, the lens you’ll use, the time of day and natural light available, and if you would like to increase or decrease your shutter speed. Make mistakes and learn from them!
  • Make sure the subjects of your photographs are in context. Are there elements of the photographs which reveal which country or city you are in?
  • Look beyond a posed photograph of your group of friends. Find interesting photography subjects in nature, on city streets, at dinner and in the classroom. Take your camera along as you participate in an archaeological dig or attend a music lesson. Look for brief moments that are representative of your entire study abroad experience.
  • If you do choose to photograph posed people, try not to make them the center focal point of your shot. Group them to the side to see what else your photograph could reveal.
  • Look for the details of your location. Zoom in on your lunch, or the handicrafts being sold at a street stall, or even the fruits and vegetables you buy each morning for breakfast, for a very specific shot.
  • Switch your camera to automatic if you are not confident with manual settings.
  • Have fun! Your photographs will tell your study abroad story, so let your excitement, nervousness, frustration, delight and curiosity show.