Episode 14: Travel Photography Tricks with guest Dave Lemke
Scott introduces the episode by talking about how digital cameras and other technology have made capturing quality images easier and more affordable than ever. Trevor and Scott then discuss some of their own experiences taking photos while on the road and how, while cameras have become more affordable and tools for post-editing are abundant, these technical tools can’t trump a good eye for photography.
Guest Dave Lemke: Scott introduces this episode’s guest, Dave Lemke, a fellow Canadian who is based in Vietnam and has been working as a professional photographer for seven-and-a-half years. Scott first became aware of Dave a few years ago and was intrigued by a project he did for Gunther Holtorf, who has driven a Mercedes Benz G. Wagen more than 800,000km around the globe. Dave shot some photos of that trip and the BBC did a story about Dave’s work.
After giving more background about himself, Dave talks briefly about his current work, including Dave Lemke Photography, a commercial photography business, and Travel Plus, which offers personal photography services to tourists looking to improve their photography skills while on holiday in Vietnam.
Scott asks Dave about a quote by Marcel Proust that Dave used during a speech on travel photography. Dave talks about how the quote, “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” guides him not only as a photographer and traveler but also as a person.
The conversation continues along philosophical lines, including how photographs serve as a point of reflection for the experiences that change us when we travel. Scott then asks Dave about getting ‘in the zone’ when traveling and shooting photos, particularly in new and exciting environments.
Trevor asks Dave how he finds balance between experiencing a new place and concentrating on taking photos. Dave suggests sitting down, taking your time, and getting in the moment as an observer before starting to focus on the photos rather than engaging in “happy snap” photography, which he describes as simply documenting where you’re visiting.
The conversation turns towards taking photographs of people, including meeting local people, how to ask their permission to photograph them, and making them feel comfortable having you around. He also talks about letting your subject find the light, letting them do their thing and waiting to find the right moment to capture the moment, effectively telling a story with your photographs.
Scott continues asking Dave for tips for the average traveler, including taking photos of buildings and cityscapes. Dave suggests taking these photos early in the morning and late in the evening. He explains that angles and lines are important when photographing architecture. He suggests walking around buildings, looking at them from different angles, and looking for the context: how the buildings fit in with their environment.
Trevor prompts Dave to talk about a specific destination to illustrate some of the points he’s trying to make about taking quality travel photos. Dave talks a bit about the photo-led tours of Vietnam he’s currently offering and talks about shooting photos in Ho Chi Minh’s Chinatown, expanding on his earlier story-telling theme. The conversation then focuses on slowing down when you travel and going deeper into a particular location rather than rushing around to see everything superficially.
Scott asks about shooting food, which Dave knows a lot about, having done this type of photography professionally, and the discussion moves towards experimenting with different camera settings and angles. This leads Dave to discuss some more general tips for amateur photographers. Dave says the best tip is getting up early as the light is typically ideal and the cultural experience is more genuine.
Trevor then asks Dave to talk a bit about how amateur photographers might make the jump to the professional ranks, sharing or selling their photos online. Dave discusses a few websites for selling stock photography and online communities that provide resources and advice for aspiring professional photographers.
Dave wraps things up by talking about maintaining motivation and finding photographic inspiration. He then discusses his professional travel photography service, Travel Plus Pictures, which includes photographing visitors while on holidays in Vietnam. Scott agrees that it sounds great to have professional photos documenting such experiences.
Links to items discussed in this episode:
- Blog about Dave’s work with Gunther Holtorf
- Dave Lemke’s Travel Photography: Travel +
- Dave Lemke’s personal website
- Image Brief
To learn more about Scott & Trevor:
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- Trevor’s Blog
- Scott’s Blog
- Scott’s Groovy Map Cambodia
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- Theme Music by Jamie Ruben
Our Sponsor: Episode 14 is brought to you by Four Rivers Floating Lodge, Cambodia – If eco-tourism conjures up visions of uncomfortable beds, leaky tents and songs round a campfire, 4 Rivers is not for you. Relax and let your senses take over, 4 Rivers Floating Lodge is at one with the natural order and engages the local community in promoting and fostering the soft tread of an environmentally aware footprint.