6 Essential Tips for Authentic Real Life Photography with Locals

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Real life photography is a captivating art form that goes beyond mere snapshots.

It is the ability to freeze genuine moments in time, capturing the raw emotions and experiences of people in their natural surroundings.

Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or a budding photographer, real life photography offers a unique opportunity to connect with locals and immerse yourself in their culture.

Read more below to explore the power of real life photography and how it will allow you to delve deeper into the lives of those you encounter on your journeys.

CONTENTS – In this article, you will learn essential real life photography tips, including:

How to Take Photos of Locals While Traveling 

Real life photography
Learn to take beautiful photos of locals while you travel.

Approaching strangers in a foreign country and asking to take their photograph can be very stressful and difficult. But you must ask permission.

Most people are happy to let you take their picture. In fact, they might enjoy talking to a tourist like you, who is sincerely interested in their culture.

In fact, photographing locals is one of the best ways to interact with them and get a deeper understanding of traditions and culture. Capturing these types of travel pictures and portraits will allow you to preserve memories and stories from your journeys. They will also help you present the culture you experienced when you get home. 

Continue reading to learn 6 tips that will help you capture the best moments from your travels.

You’ll learn about how to interact with locals to get their permission, and how to use your camera to take pro-level photos.

Related: Branding a Photography Business: When Your Travel Photos Pay Off

Now let’s get started. 

1. Interact with People

Real life photography
Real life photography captures memorable cultural moments.

The key to getting outstanding real life photography of the locals is communication.

Without it, you won’t be able to convey their personality and story unless you try to approach and talk to them.

Besides, people are more likely to agree to be photographed if you interact with them and make eye contact. It’s so important to ask for permission before shooting your picture.

Otherwise, the locals might be annoyed or even aggressive seeing a stranger taking photos of them. And really, it’s rude to take a photo without their consent.

So, you should also ask for permission first, and also if it’s okay to post and publish the shots if you’re planning to. 

2. Adjust the Camera Settings in Advance

While traveling and doing real life photography, you will often need to take your shots in a rush. And, the best shots will come from your DSLR camera.

That said, you will only have a few seconds to turn on your camera and press the button.

So, it’s better to either use the Automatic mode or adjust the settings in advance: ISO, Aperture, Shutter Speed, file format, etc. 

Real life photography
Use the best camera settings and post-processing tools to achieve stunning results.

You might also want to switch to a smaller and lighter camera for your travel photos.

That’s because carrying heavy gear along with lots of lenses and a tripod will slow you down. You’ll be exhausted by the end of the day. 

Instead, travel as light as you can when it comes to your camera and gear.

Related: Mirrorless Cameras For Travel: An Easy Guide to The Perfect Shot

3. Enhance Photos in Post-Production 

Real life photography
Follow the essential photography tips for the best results.

While shooting your real life photography, you might not have time or opportunity to adjust the light, composition, and other elements of your picture.

But you can easily fix everything in a photo editor.

Don’t worry, you don’t need to be a Photoshop expert to enhance your travel photos. You can use a simple face editor instead to alter your images–even if you have zero experience.

Here are some of the changes you might need to make:

  • Remove unwanted people and objects
  • Adjust contrast, brightness, exposure, and other settings
  • Remove wrinkles and improve the skin tone
  • Sharpen the person’s eyes
  • Whiten the teeth
  • Other changes

Once you get some distance from your trip, you’ll have a keen eye to easily make these changes at home.

4. Give Something Back

pic 7 | Enjoy Travel Life
Offer a gesture of appreciation when you take photos while traveling.

You don’t necessarily need to pay the person you photograph, but it’s a good idea to give something in return in appreciation. That may be a printed portrait or a small gift.

By the way, you can use a Polaroid camera to give an instant print to the person. In some places, it might be hard to find a print shop, so this comes in handy.

If you’re taking a picture of a seller on the market, you can also support them by purchasing something from them.

5. Do Your Research or Hire a Guide

As you plan your trip, you should google the places you’re going to visit to make sure you don’t enter dangerous or criminal areas.

It’s also a good idea to make a list of locations where you could photograph people.

Here’s a tip: you can typically find locals in crowded spots like a market or a pub.  

Some popular destinations like Paris or Chicago might take you a few hours of surfing the Internet, but lesser-known places might require more research.

For such areas, we recommend you hire a local guide. They will show you the best spots in the city and help you break down the language barrier and talk to the local people.

This is a also great opportunity to immerse yourself in a foreign culture and get answers to all your questions about the country and their customs. 

6. Respect the Culture  

Real life photography
Always get your photo subjects’ permission before taking pictures.

The concept of politeness and etiquette vary greatly in all cultures. This includes the way you dress, talk, approach, and even smile.

You don’t have to be an expert to visit a place, but you should definitely learn some of the local customs and memorize a couple of basic phrases.

All in all, the more respectful you act, the more approachable you’ll be. So, your chances of taking a great shot will be higher. 

Final Thoughts on Real Life Photography

Now you know how to capture real life photography while traveling.

To sum up, you shouldn’t be afraid of approaching local people and having a little talk.

But sometimes being friendly is not enough, so you should dig a little deeper into the culture first to avoid misunderstandings. 

You should also keep your camera ready to take a shot at any moment.

Then, to perfect your photos, you can also use a photo editor. Once you’re back home, you’ll definitely enjoy recalling your memories from a trip while tweaking your pictures to give them a better look.

Last but not least, don’t be too stressed about capturing every moment of your journey. Part of the fun is to enjoy traveling and taking photos just to save the stories you encounter or create.

Ready, set, go!

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Photographer adjusting camera settings while interacting with locals
Photographer interacting with locals and capturing authentic moments
Photographer respectfully interacting with locals and capturing the essence of a destination

Jackie Gately at the beach


About the Author: Jackie Gately

I'm Jackie Gately, your travel confidante and the creative force behind Enjoy Travel Life, awarded the "Best Casual-Luxury Lifestyle Blog (USA)" in Travel and Tourism by LUXlife Magazine for four consecutive years.

With 25 years of published expertise, I'm a seasoned writer, editor, and photographer curating inspiring travel guides and lifestyle tips for empty nesters. I hope to kindle your spirit of exploration, encouraging you to overcome obstacles and turn your dreams into reality.

Learn to minimize your pre-travel angst and maximize the joy of exploration with insights from my experiences. Let's make every adventure a celebration of this exciting phase of life! 

Follow my social channels for more inspiration.



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