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Travel Planning: Tune your travel destination expectations

In the first part of the travel planning series, we discussed how guidebooks are the first step in the preparation process. By now you should have a draft of your trip schedule. The next step is forming an idea of what we should expect to find when we arrive at our travel destination. The best way to develop this idea is to look at what other photographers have already done.

Look at image sharing and stock agencies websites

Once, before I became a photographer, you had to get postcards. Today the first place to look for is Google Images, but usually it isn’t enough.

The photographs you can get there range from the professional grade to tourist snapshots. For your travel planning, you want to concentrate on the best Travel Photography out there, and to obtain more professional images you can start your search on Flickr.

The best places to look for Travel Photography taken by professional photographers are stock agency websites. The most popular are GettyImages and Corbis. Go there and use their search tool to find images of your location. You don’t need to purchase photographs to look at them (you have just to forgive the watermark).

I start my research broadly, searching for the name of the place I’m interested. This way I feel how it looks like.

Next, I look more specifically at the points of interest I jotted down with the help of my travel guidebooks. What I want is to look for what has become a cliche, so I will not shoot it for the trillionth time.

Once I’ve completed this step, I have a better idea of what to expect from the places I’m about to visit. I know what is already overshot, and what isn’t represented enough (this is very rare).

I also begin to figure out how I want to shoot points of interest. I imagine possible alternative compositions, framings, points of view and so on. This is just an idea, because you can never be sure on how to shoot something until you’re there.

Look at websites of established travel photographers

Looking at websites of established travel photographers isn’t a bad idea at all. You can look at a lot of great Travel Photography, and, if they write a blog, you can also find articles about your travel destination. You can even contact them to get some advice.

There are a lot of great travel photographers online and I can’t possibly list them all, but I can help get you started. Try to look at the websites of Ami Vitale, David duChemin, Mitchell Kanashkevich or Gavin Gough just to cite a view. Oh… don’t forget about me!

Study all kind of media to research your travel destination

Based on time at your disposal and the shooting you have to do, you can also get Travel Photography photo books. Even fiction novels whose setting is your travel destination or essays about that place can be a good reading for your travel planning.

Oh, and don’t forget movies and documentaries. YouTube is another terrific source of visual information and inspiration. Try to look for videos about the points of interest in your list.

The basic rule is the more you know, the better your understanding of the place, and the better Travel Photography you’ll be able to make. Study, study, study!

In the next installment of the travel planning series, we’ll discuss the fixer, your foothold when you’ll reach your travel destination. In the mean time, I’d like to know in the comments how do you prepare visually for you journey.

Do you do an extensive search of images of your travel destination?

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