Photo Tips: Previsualization Part 2

UNESCO World Heritage Site at Palenque in Chiapas, Mexico by Ralph Velasco

Man-Made Wonders - Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico

This is Part 2 of my short series on the technique of pre-visualization (I’ve seen it with hyphen and without).  I spent a great deal of time pre-visualizing before my recent assignment to shoot for a cookbook throughout Mexico. During the 35 days we were in-country, I ended up having to shoot in over 40 distinct locations, and so I didn’t have a lot of time to figure it out when I arrived…I had to have a really good idea of what it was I wanted, and more importantly, what the client wanted me to shoot, and where to find those photo opportunities, before I even landed.

Boy Hiding Behind Accordion - Oaxaca, Mexico by RalphVelasco

People/Music - Oaxaca, Mexico

Much of this comes back to working from a shot list, a concept that if you’ve been reading my blog or following me for any period of time, you know I’m a huge proponent of.  Here are just a few of the broad categories that were on my check list for most of the urban locations in Mexico I’d be visiting:

  • Architecture
  • Culture & Customs
  • Details
  • Everyday Life (see my recent blog post about Capturing Everyday Life)
  • Gastronomy
  • Icons
  • Interiors
  • Landmarks
  • Markets
  • People
  • The Underbelly
Special Coffee at Grande Cafe de la Parroquia in Veracruz, Mexico by Ralph Velasco

Gastronomy/Drink - Veracruz, Mexico

The list goes on as there are over 40 categories on my City shot list alone, and I’ve come up with over 70 categories, total (52 are highlighted in the iPhone app I created called My Shot Lists for Travel).  So the City shot list is my starting point and I add and subtract categories as needed.  Some are more obvious than others, and what I consider the low hanging fruit (Architecture, Landmarks, People), while the less obvious categories can be the difference between a good portfolio and a great one (Culture & Customs, Details, Everyday Life).

Man Scooping Raw Fish in Progreso, Yucatan, Mexico by Ralph Velasco

Industry - Progreso, Yucatan, Mexico

Often times a single image can fit into several categories, such as a few of the ones I’ve posted here.  Knowing the types of images I needed to be on the lookout for could also play into the amount and type of gear I’d need to pack, as well as how much time I might like to spend in a location (if I have any say so, which I really didn’t in Mexico) or what type of transportation or guides I need to set up for myself; these are just a few more benefits of doing the research.

Iguana at Dzibilchaltun, Yucatan, Mexico by Ralph Velasco

Wildlife - Dzibilchaltun, Yucatan, Mexico

Before embarking on any trip that will have photography at its core, spend the time necessary to previsualize the various types of images you’ll need to be aware of…this way you’ll know them when you see them and can be prepared to take advantage of the opportunity when it presents itself.

What are some of the more unique categories on your shot list?


Ralph Velasco is an Orange County-based photography instructor, international photo tour guide and author who frequently speaks on the topic of travel photography.  He’s an award-winning blogger and the creator of the My Shot Lists for Travel app for iPhone.


  1. Rita Florea says:

    Wow, Ralph – the photo with the is it cafe con leche o chocolate? I LOVE IT!!!

    I’m off to Cuba in 1 week – YIPPEE! I have a huge duffel full of medicamentos and tooth paste!

    I’m considering traveling with you to Chicago one day, but probably not this May. Recently I went to a lecture on The World Greatest Building and so many of the buildings are in Chicago. So………..someday!

    Have a wonderful holiday season and a healthy and traveling New Year!

    Con cariño,

Speak Your Mind


International Cultural Tours, Photo Events, Photo Walks, Photo Tours, Public Speaking, Seminars & Training, Cultural Events, Photography App, Walking Tours, Photography Course, Photo Tips, Photography Classes, Corporate Events, Photo Classes, Photo Boot Camp, Corona del Mar, Orange County CA

Ralph Velasco is a professional photographer and instructor who has traveled extensively and taken photographs in over 40 countries. Ralph Velasco Cultural Tours offers unique cultural touring opportunities that combine compelling locations with breathtaking views, relevant local history, scheduled activities and time to explore on your own. His events are available in dazzling international locations around the globe and his services include public speaking, corporate cultural tours and events, corporate photo walks, photo walking tours, photography eBooks, photography classes and group training seminars. His photo walking tours provide the opportunity for hands-on photography experience with a professional instructor to develop the skills necessary to capture a variety of photo subjects, settings and lighting. Ralph gives private photography lessons and his photography boot camp includes a seminar and training on camera basics, elements of composition, and a personal review of your own photography. United States and international locations; Corona del Mar & Orange County CA.

Ralph Velasco Cultural Tours | Corporate Photo Tours, International Cultural Tours, Photo Events, Public Speaking, Corporate Events, Photo Walks, Seminars & Training, Photography Boot Camp, Cultural Events, Photography Apps, Walking Tours, Photo E-books, Photography Courses, Photo Tips, Photography Classes, Photo Boot Camp, Photo Classes, United States and International Locations, Newport Beach, Costa Mesa, Irvine, Laguna Beach, Aliso Viejo, Huntington Beach, Laguna Woods, Fountain Valley, Laguna Hills, Dana Point, Coto de Caza, Santa Ana, Tustin, Laguna Niguel, Lake Forest, Mission Viejo, Tustin Foothills, Orange County CA, California | 422½ Carnation Avenue, Corona del Mar CA 92625 | (949) 698-2859 or Toll-Free (888) 974-6869