Photo Tips: The ABCs of Photography


Photo Tips: Always Be Curious


Photographer Shooting Detail of Door - Alcala de Henares, Spain - Copyright 2012 Ralph Velasco

Getting up close and personal with the detail of a door in Alcala de Henares, Spain.


My mother taught me one of the most important photo tips I could ever want to know as a professional travel photographer..she taught me to be curious.  It was instilled in me at an early age to have and develop the insatiable desire to constantly be learning, and so till this day I’m always on the lookout for new and interesting subjects to see and photograph.  When we were kids she’d take us for walks in the woods near our house outside of Chicago, and as we went along she’d point out the tiny veins in the colorful fall leaves on the ground, or the interesting details of the caterpillars and other insects, the varieties of bark on the trees, and so many other interesting things.

This invaluable skill is something that I’ve tried to pass along to the participants of my photo tours and classes, and I love to see them getting in close on a subject to bring out the interesting details that abound, surely because they want to share what they’ve seen with the people enjoying their photography.


Establishing Shot of Door in Black and White - Segovia, Spain - Copyright 2012 Ralph Velasco

Establishing shot of door in Segovia, Spain.


On vacation, especially in Mexico, she’d point out the fine details of the hardware and chipping paint on the doors and windows we’d encounter, those things that most people would simply walk by.  Needless to say this inspired me to have this same curiosity, only I wanted to photograph it and share it with others in that medium.


Medium Shot of Door in Black and White in Segovia, Spain by Ralph Velasco.

Medium shot of door in Segovia, Spain.


Essentially these were photo walks before the term went mainstream, and well before there were digital cameras (I don’t remember even having a camera with us on these walks).


Detail Shot of Door in Black and White - Segovia, Spain - Copyright 2012 Ralph Velasco

Detail shot of door in Segovia, Spain.


My feeling is that curiosity is the best skill that one can learn when out in the field.  Having an interest in the odd, the interesting, the bold, the beautiful, the not-so-beautiful, things that contrast, colors that pop, these are all wonderful subjects to capture with a camera, and if you don’t notice them in the first place, how can you possibly photograph them?


Detail of Iron Work and Shutters on Window - Barcelona, Spain - Copyright 2012 Ralph Velasco

Detail of iron work and shutters on window in Barcelona, Spain.


I’m always trying to emphasize in my classes and on my photo walking tours, that getting the big, overall, establishing shots is great, but then focus in on the medium and detail shots that make up the whole.  This is what will separate your portfolio from the pack.


Detail of Iron Work and Shutters on Window - Alcala de Henares, Spain - Copyright 2012 Ralph Velasco

Detail of iron work and shutters on window in Alcala de Henares, Spain.


Would you consider yourself someone who has mastered the ABCs of photography?


Join me for a photo tour of The Heart of Spain in September 2013.

See link for more info and to register.


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 creator of the My Shot Lists for Travel app for iPhone.


  1. Great tip, Ralph. I gotta say you are a curious man an I love that about you. Thank you for sharing. Michal

  2. Thanks for the tip…I do agree though as with many things in life…it’s all in the detail :).

  3. Thanks for the tips on black and white photography. I guess it’s a matter of perspective….I prefer your original shot of the leaf – I love the soft turquoise and purples. Great shot.

    • RalphVelasco says:

      That’s the great thing about photography, Lynda, it’s up to each viewer’s interpretation, and nothing is right or wrong. Thanks for the comment.

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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.

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