Travel Photography is often about Get What You Can

Picture: Palm tree at sunset, Kihei, Maui, Hawaii

Image: Sunset behind palm tree, Kihei, Maui, Hawaii

Almost all travel photography has a combination of things that you as the photographer can or can’t control. Sometimes it simply boils down to a take-what-you-can-get proposition. Nowhere is this more true than when a professional travel photographer takes a family vacation, especially when the family doesn’t revolve around your photography. I’ve learned over the years that I need to balance out those moments when I do or don’t take my big bag of camera gear with me. When I do have my camera gear nearby, unless I specifically have my photographer hat on and am ‘working’ a scene, I often just look for those easy grab shots and Get-What-I-Can.

Image: Sunset behind palm tree, Kihei, Maui, Hawaii View from our rented apartment, Kihei, Maui, Hawaii. (Shot w/ my S4 Android Cell Phone)

A perfect example of this was the very first evening after arriving at our rented apartment in Kihei, Maui. It was a long day filled with alarm clocks and air travel starting at 5:00am, and we were planning a 3:00am wake up to drive the next morning to catch the sunrise at Haleakala National Park. Dinner appetites, as they often do, begin to boil over in direct relation to the sun’s proximity to the horizon, and such was the case this evening. Rather than running across the street in the middle of dinner, I chose to stay behind and NOT play Mr. Photographer. But even so, as the sun set, the quality of the compelled me to grab my camera from the bedroom and step out on to our lanai (balcony). In the midst of a scene filled with condos, traffic, traffic lights, telephone poles & wires, etc, I simply focused on what I could get; a clean shot of a palm tree at sunset using a zoom lens to crop out all that other ‘citi-ness’ that I didn’t want in my photo.

Within a minute I was back with the family having dinner and watching Shark Week on the Discovery Channel in advance of our upcoming snorkeling adventures.



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Image ID#: 140814a_HI-0074 (palm tree)



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Gary Crabbe is an award-winning commercial and editorial outdoor travel photographer and author based out of the San Francisco Bay Area, California. He has seven published books on California to his credit, including “Photographing California; v1-North”, which won the prestigious 2013 IBPA Benjamin Franklin Gold Medal award as Best Regional title. His client and publication credits include the National Geographic Society, the New York Times, Forbes Magazine, TIME, The North Face, Subaru, L.L. Bean, Victoria’s Secret, Sunset Magazine, The Nature Conservancy, and many more. Gary is also a photography instructor and consultant, offering both public and private photo workshops. He also works occasionally a professional freelance Photo Editor.




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One Comment on “Travel Photography is often about Get What You Can”

  1. Richard Wong Says:

    Very admirable Gary. I’m sure your family appreciates it. I try to do the same thing when Samantha and I are on a date or traveling together. I usually bring my gear or some of it but if we need to eat, we eat. If it’s too cold then maybe I don’t shoot that sunset but I’ll get up for sunrise since Samantha would rather sleep in :-) It’s nice too occasionally when you have an understanding spouse.



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