Guide to travel photography by Bogdan Mihai Lazar


posted on 20th of september, 2012

Mihai Bogdan Lazar likes traveling as much as shooting photos so his portfolio is an impressive collection of wonderful, amazing, quaint places you'd just like to see some day. Until then, check out his bio on the profile page to see all the places he's seen and showed us so far. Mihai Bogdan confesses that his secret when traveling with a camera is to make the most of everything. He enjoys the scenery while taking shots and the other way round. He makes sure to pack the best but lightest travel camera. He books the nicest accommodation that's closest to great places. At the end, he makes the most of his free time by not wasting it to post-process images that will not sell and uploads only the best. To these, he adds diligence, passion and last but not least originality. Let's accompany Bogdan for a short travel in his photo world...

You are technically our very first contributor. We bet you remember our old layout! How does it feel to be the very first photographer on Dreamstime? Can you share your personal observations on the Dreamstime site evolution?

I knew that my Dreamstime ID number is 8 but I always thought that there must be at least 1 among the other 7 before me which was not a staff member. Therefore it is a surprise for me to find out that I'm the very first contributor! During the past 8 years both Dreamstime and I have evolved. I like to think that we evolved towards better. I am sure at least Dreamstime did.

You have a lot of traveling shots so we're curious: do you travel to shoot or do you shoot while traveling?
That's a difficult question. I would answer that I shoot while travelling, although I sometimes feel it's the other way around. My wife these days certainly thinks like that. There are a certain number of sunsets that one can enjoy and appreciate before it becomes a routine, even if the setting is different. Nonetheless there are still genuine moments resulting from a combination of mood, setting and time of day. I sometimes forget that I should enjoy these moments first, rather than attempting to photograph them.

How do you prepare for a trip to a certain location? Do you do research on landmarks, study lighting angles/conditions etc. or is it a spontaneous shooting? How do you approach travel spots today as compared to 8 years ago?
I do prepare before, especially to check what angles and lighting conditions have been covered and how popular certain landmarks are. But the decision of what and when to shoot is usually spontaneous. It took me a while to learn to travel in such a way that I can be at places of interest at interesting hours (from lighting conditions point of view), while also keeping my family satisfied. I have found that choosing a good hotel in a convenient location is among the most important decisions. Where and when to eat or how
to move around are equally important. It's been a rollercoaster ride to learn how to take these decisions and I am still learning every day.

You've been many times in Japan and also studied there. How do you find Japanese photography/photographers compared to US or European ones? Why do we see so many tourists with cameras but less active photographers in stock photography at least?
I think photography is even more popular in Japan than in the western world, both on the amateur and professional level. Their travel books or brochures are more elaborate than ours, just to show the talent of Japanese photographers in the field. However, I think language is a major barrier in uniting the two worlds. To relate to Japanese photographers or customers, I think one has to be a part of their world and speak their language. This can be the same for other parts of the world as well.

Is there is a trip that you still have not done but you would love to do?
Of course - many! I would put Seychelles Islands on top of my wish list. The Islands are well known to have the most beautiful beaches in the world and the images found on Dreamstime's database are here to certify it.

How much time do you spend with post processing? Is there a technique that you prefer over the others?
I spend about 1h on every image I release. I am very diligent about small imperfections and among them the chromatic aberration is what I find most annoying. About 3 years ago I have started using HDR photography technique. Since then, most of my travel shots are HDR.

Which photo was the most challenging in terms of technical execution?
At this moment I can think of this image of Chillon Castle. The strong contrast between the sky and the dark silhouette of the castle made it very difficult to properly expose the scene, even considering bracketed exposures for HDR. Among the most recent trips, I found La Rambla in Barcelona extremely difficult to shoot. I've spent several hours walking up and down the street to find good angles capturing the river of people flowing under the trees. I am still not sure if I had managed to capture it properly. Here is one of the few good shots I've got.
But all these difficulties are nothing in comparison with the challenges of astrophotography that I've got myself into starting few months ago.

It is obvious that you choose the best shots from each location carefully. How important is quality over quantity?
During my first years in stock, I was shooting and uploading everything. You then observe that the sales are concentrated on just the best shots. And then you realize that (unless you have a lot of time at your disposal) it is counterproductive to just post-process and prepare all the images taken during a shoot. I don't have enough time to process even my best images. I still have good images from April last year that I did not get around to.
Summing up, I prefer to use my time traveling or preparing for traveling, rather than post-processing in front of the computer. Therefore, I had to learn to select the best and more difficult, to let the others go.

People are different from one country to the next. Now with editorial becoming more popular, have you given any thoughts to including closeups of local people in these beautiful settings?
I was never comfortable to push my camera into stranger's nose. I have a lot of ground to cover with my current style as well as new techniques or topics that I would like to get my hands dirty with before this happens. But I cannot predict the future.

Three pieces of advice for traveling photographers.
(i) Save more budget for traveling expenses than for equipment;
My traveling budget is several times more than how much my gear is worth. A downtown hotel can get you into walking distance to more interesting locations, maximizing your shooting time, but it comes at a higher price. A hotel with a view is even better sometimes.
(ii)Travel as light as possible; Keep the number of extra lens and the camera's size to a minimum. It will make you a faster, better and safer shooter ;-)
(iii)Always try to go beyond the state-of-art; Copying is good for learning. To be taken seriously, one has to create new content (new technique, new angle, new light conditions or new location) on the regular basis. Of course, it is difficult to be really original when comparing yourself with the whole world, but one should strive nonetheless. When putting one creation in the perspective of only the stock industry, originality is easier to be achieved.

Mihai Bogdan has traveled a lot around the stock photography world and his steps have finally led him to a path he recommends others to take as well: finding and professing an original style, an original approach, an original view. Travel photography may be an ordinary stock subject. It's your job to make travel photos extraordinary.

Comments (20)

Posted by Perstock on November 09, 2012
Really inspiring!
And, a lot of useful tips :-)
Posted by Scottysally2 on October 20, 2012
Congratulation's on being Dreamstime's first contributor, wonderful travel images love your port folio. Thank you for sharing a lot of great tips too. :)
Posted by Dprogers on October 15, 2012
The very first contributor. Wow, well done :-) And my only extra trip for travel photographers - make people feel as if they are there and that doesn't mean always shooting pretty photos, if the place is disgusting, for whatever reason, bring that out in the photographs; if the place is dangerous, convey that in the photographs, and if the place is delightful, make it look like that. Make people want to visit, or not :-)
Posted by Dreamtimephoto on October 10, 2012
Very good article, Thank you.
Posted by Afagundes on October 09, 2012
This is a great blog Bogdan, very inspiring, great tips,

I liked the interview style very much as well, very coloquial, but right to the point, congrats Bogdan, you are doing a great job and seems to manage to keep enjoying your traveling with your family, quite an achievement!
Posted by Lenutaidi on October 05, 2012
Great work!Great article!Congratulations,Bogdan!
Posted by Alvera on October 01, 2012
Good advice to travel light. This summer I forget at home my camera bag and I get two weeks of walking extremely light, hands in my pockets. :-) Good article, thanks. Off-topic: DT, the Useful button from top-right must be here, at bottom-left. This is the cause that a very interesting article like this one have only 3 + mine = 4 clicks from about 900 readings. Please move it. Readers usually conclude after reading, not before :-) Your helpful King.
Posted by Bogdan on September 27, 2012
@Angela Ostafichuk. Indeed photographic opportunities are all over, but some are more interesting than others. It makes sense to stay close to the interesting ones, especially if you are aiming to capture them under special lighting conditions.
Indeed many people do not mind to take their photograph, is just that I prefer to interact with them without my camera. People tend to behave differently when under the spot light, which is of course interesting, but not for me.
The 1 hour is not only the post-processing. It includes the selection process of a particular image from a set, completing the details of the image with keyword and captions and the uploading procedure. I prefer to work with individual images rather than batches and this makes it more time consuming.
Thank you all for your comments!
Bogdan
Posted by Angkawijaya92 on September 26, 2012
Outstanding!
Posted by Suebmtl on September 25, 2012
Wonderful work.Congratulations.
Very interesting blog.
Posted by Thevegetable on September 25, 2012
nice image :)
Posted by Onime on September 24, 2012
Amazing images.
Posted by Adeliepenguin on September 24, 2012
Dreamstime's first contributor! Oh my, the stories you could tell us all:) I love your work. Thanks for sharing your story.
Posted by Cosmostellar on September 23, 2012
ENJOYABLE ARTICLE. THANK YOU.
Posted by Henrymm on September 22, 2012
Best of the best (professional) travel photos. Envy you..
Posted by Giannit on September 22, 2012
Great images.... Bogdan is an outstanding photographer...
Posted by Thanatonautii on September 22, 2012
Great great interview and Bogdan was always an inspiration. Good luck in the future and hope to read some more interviews with the DT stuff :)
Posted by Angelaostafichuk on September 21, 2012
Good interview. I admire your dedication to spending an hour (!) on each photo! As a travel photographer, I agree with what you have to say except about the hotel part. i don't think it really matters where you stay because when it comes to travel and something new and exciting, there are always photo opportunities.
Also for editorial shots of people, they usually don't mind : )
Posted by Egomezta on September 21, 2012
His work is amazing....
Posted by Akulamatiau on September 20, 2012
COngratulations! Always admire your work.



Comments (20)

This article has been read 3094 times. 7 readers have found this article useful.
Photo credits: Mihai-bogdan Lazar.

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