One of the key elements of people photography is proximity and gauging distance. What makes it so tricky is that, in order to get the best portrait shots, you need to be willing to get closer to your subject who in most cases is a complete stranger.

What makes a travel portrait different is that it gives viewers a sense of place as well so always try to capture some of the background. This will help communicate the environment within which the person lives and will also give some context. Incorporating more of the local background and surroundings tells you a bit about their lifestyles. These environmental portraits as they are called draw you into the person’s world – how they live, how they interact with their neighbors, and how they move through life.

Photographing people at work requires you remain cognizant of their emotions.

Are you impeding on their workplace?

Are you slowing them down?

Are they extremely busy?


To get some memorable slice of life shots, quickly build a relationship with your subject. Be patient. This means waiting and waiting until the person is done with a particular task for an opportunity to interact. When taking travel portraits, exercising patience is not the same thing as stalking your subject.

Let them know their work isn’t insignificant and, if possible, momentarily partake in their work with them. Whether helping a porter take down the tent, or lending a hand to a baker, it communicates that you find their duties important.

This can be the key to being welcomed into their world.

Check out more quick photo composition tips in my library.