How to: Capture Better Travel Portraits

Get kitted out

Surly, you can use every lens to shoot portraits and candits, but some models in the X Series lineup offer particular advantages. For example, if you want to shoot classic portraits, a focal length between 50mm and 80mm offers a distortion-free view, without taking you too far from the person you’re photographing. Therefore, the  XF50mmF1.0 R WR and XF56mmF1.2 R are both amazing lenses. However, if you prefer something smaller and lighter, especially for longer shooting days, we recommend the XF50mmF2 R WR. Its weather sealing makes it even more attractive. Have a look at Fujifilm’s extensive product range and find a lens that fits your needs.

For candids, or more environmental portraits, you’ll benefit from small, inconspicuous lenses, with shorter focal lengths than typical portrait models. The wider view allows more context, showing the subject’s background and their story. A lens from 18mm to 35mm might be the best option.

Remember the context

Most of the time photographers want to focus directly on the subject and let the rest of the scene fall into blur. Usually there is nothing wrong with that, but it is important to remember that context is a defining aspect when shooting travel images. Trying to include specific elements of the location in your candids or portraits, like architecture help the overall image composure. Hence, don’t reach straight for the widest apertures.

Check your privilege

Rule number one: Do not take any pictures without first doing research or permission. In most countries  street photography is an accepted art form, tolerated or respected, but sometimes there are limits to be aware of. If in doubt simply ask. Portrait photography is a social art – and interaction is part of the process. Be upfront and try not to sneak a picture without someone noticing. This will almost always lead to better results. One trick we have been told by seasoned travelers is to take an instax printer with you and say thank you to your subject by offering them an instant print! All current X Series cameras can print wirelessly in seconds.

Do not ignore the tourists

This might sound surprising to you since we generally do not want tourist being present on our images. Nonetheless, they are just as valid for your travel photography eye as the locals. How they experience and interact with the culture and environment can make for a great story – and if there is visual contrast to be found in the way they are dressing or acting, so much the better.

Last but not least, share your travel highlight with all of us. It has never been easier than now to let family, friends, and also strangers be part of your journey. The excitement of travel photography is too good not to share!

Images © Kevin Mullins