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.
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:
- Culture & Customs
- Everyday Life (see my recent blog post about Capturing Everyday Life)
- The Underbelly
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).
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.
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.