Tips for Capturing the Heart of a City in Photos

This year, one of my goals is to collect a bunch of the photos I’ve taken on trips and put them into albums. I grew up flipping the pages of my parents’ photo albums, and want to be able to create those memories with my daughter without always clicking a mouse. As I’ve started to sort through the photos, I’ve noticed that I gravitate more towards the photos that are full of life, that really incapsulate the core of the city or town we were in. My brother is a photographer and has taught me a thing or two about taking pictures, but now that I have a pretty good hold on the technical, I find myself shifting gears back to what the photo is really saying. Here are the tips that have helped me along the way…


1. Photograph Candid Moments

When you’re walking around the city, practice taking your eyes off the famous places to see the day-to-day hustle and bustle going on around you. Try to capture people’s facial expressions and simple moments that make you smile: The musician on the street corner, the kids playing hide-and-go-seek in the farmers market, the local medicine man enjoying a bit of down time in the market. Don’t overthink these types of photos in the moment, just snap away and you might find you’ll surprise yourself with the results.



2. Capture the Energy

Capture the heartbeat of a city with motion. Sometimes a bit of blurriness isn’t always a bad thing. This photo of girls dancing on the dock in South Africa takes me back as soon as I see it. I can remember the sounds of them singing, the music, and the warm sun on my face. Photos like these can be so mesmerizing, you can feel all the energy just by looking at them. These photos are especially wonderful to share when you come back home.


3. Photograph When All is Quiet

Create a beautiful mix of photos by also photographing the moments that are peaceful and quiet. The juxtaposition of these photos with the energetic ones creates an experience that goes full circle. Find locations that are normally filled with people and photograph them when they are desolate and bare. When you look back on the photos all together, you can not only relive these important moments, but the feeling of the trip itself.

Photo credit: My brother Bruce Leventhal

Jaime Morrison Curtis is author of the bestselling book Prudent Advice: Lessons for My Baby Daughter (A Life List for Every Woman), follow up fill-in journal My Prudent Advice, and founding co-editor at Pretty Prudent, the premier design and lifestyle blog providing inspiration and instruction to help anyone create beautiful things, food, and experiences for their friends and family. Follow Jaime on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and YouTube.

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