Namgay, our guide. Trashigang, Bhutan Phase One XT 150MP Achromatic back, 32mm Rodenstock, f8 @ 1/200 second, ISO 200, IR filter.
Are you intimidated a little when it comes to photographing people on your travels? Sometimes it's easier to photography strangers in a foreign land than it is at home, but even so, many photographers are a little timid when it comes to pointing their camera at the locals. First of all, they don't want to offend anyone. Second, they don't want the person to react badly! And third, they are possibly just a little shy! If some of this sits with you, you're not alone. So, how do you get around it?
When travelling, you're always interacting with some of the locals, even if it's a travel guide on a bus tour. It's the travel guide's job to make you happy, so if taking his or her photo will make you happy, ask!
Travel guides are also excellent for introductions. If you tell your travel guide you'd like to take some portraits during the trip, a good guide will make this happen. I tell our guides to explain to the locals that he or she is traveling with some crazy people who simply photograph everything and would they mind being subjects! A little humour goes a long way. A thank you is very important. And if you get a rejection, no trouble - move on. There are lots of potential subjects.
In addition to a travel guide, there are other locals you'll come in contact with, such as the taxi driver and the shopkeeper. Once you've paid these people some money (or you're likely to), contact has been made. So, point to your camera and smile and see what happens! All they can do is say no.
In the photo above...
... guides in Bhutan always wear traditional dress, so including them in a photograph is very easy to do. And they are very helpful when it comes to introducing you to the locals for a portrait or two. Not all countries feel this way. Bolivia, for example, can be challenging in some areas, so you do need to pick and choose.