Yesterday I introduced a three part series offering tips on taking pictures in the Holy Land. Here are the next three tips.
4. Decide why you are taking pictures. I know that this may be basic, but my pictures are primarily for me. I take pictures of what I am interested in, namely, photos tied to the Bible and archaeology. Most travelers do not have as much interest in these as I do. That’s fine. I am not nearly as interested in camel pictures that others seem to covet. I also take pictures to use in my teaching ministry. So I try to take pictures that I think will be helpful in the classroom. Such shots are not usually the postcard-like shots. But if you know that you are going to give a presentation of your trip to your church when you get back, then you might have to take some basic shots so that you can show something other than 50 shots of the ruins at ancient Jericho. In any case, it is helpful for you to decide what kinds of pictures you want to bring back before you go.
5. Study what others have done. Before you go, look through the pictures in the myriad of books and guides on the Holy Land. Look at the pictures you see these books and decide what you might want to take and where by comparing the photos you like with your itinerary. You can even start making a list. For example, you might decide that you want a picture looking through the picturesque window at the Dominus Flevit Church. Another helpful resource is Todd Bolen’s Pictorial Library of Bible Lands. Todd has chosen some of the best pictures of practically all, if not all, the sites that most travelers will ever see. This Pictorial Library has helped me (see here).
6. Ask the tour guide for suggestions. Many tour guides have earned a certificate in “Been there. Done that” and, therefore, have a wealth of knowledge about what might make for the best pictures. All the tour guides that I have known have been quite willing to help out with some basic photography advice. While I don’t think you ought to bombard your guide with picture-taking questions at every stop, don’t be afraid to tap into this valuable resource. In fact, after asking a few times, they might start offering advice even before you ask or sometimes squeeze in an otherwise unplanned photo stop. Before leaving the subject of tour guides, make sure that you practice good tourist etiquette. Try to resist taking photos while the guide is talking. Listen to the guide so you know what you’re looking at. Guides get weary of having a distracted photographer ask them a question about something they just explained.