As many of you know, at heart I am an adventure photographer. I photograph weddings here in Southern California as my “day job” so to speak, but my idea of a vacation, and my true passion, is exploring far-flung places with strange inhabitants and little similarity to my own suburban lifestyle.
Therefore, I am always interested in reading about adventure and travel photography. I have numerous books and videos on the subject, and today I am reviewing for you all a book by adventure photographer Leo Edwards. It is a short e-book titled “The Adventure Photography Handbook“.
Leo Edwards is an international adventure and travel photographer based in Dubai,
You can read more about Leo’s book or purchase it by clicking HERE, or by watching the promo video below:
As someone with a moderate amount of experience traveling both locally and internationally, I found the book to be both informative and inspirational. I’ve always found it easy to grasp technical things like focal lengths and shutter speeds, but I continue to struggle with things like being outgoing and knowing how to handle communication, especially in a foreign country where I can’t speak the native language very well. Thankfully Leo understands that this is indeed one of the biggest obstacles for most photographers, and his information and insight focuses on how to overcome this in order to achieve more memorable travel images, especially portraits.
There are sections of the book for practically every aspect of travel photography though, including what gear to bring, how to pack it, and how to protect both your gear and yourself from the potential dangers you might encounter.
When I first started out as a photographer, none of my images contained people as subjects. I dreamed of traveling to far-flung places, but only for the purpose of taking more pictures without any people in them. However as my career went in the direction of wedding and portrait photography, I learned to integrate people as subjects in environmental portraits. This slowly began to influence my dreams of international travel, and now I feel like I would much rather visit India or China, than Alaska or New Zealand. (Not that there aren’t interesting people to photograph in those places, but you know what I mean!)
If you’re like me and are finding yourself ready for adventures that go beyond the tourist landmark still-lifes, (either international or even in your own back yard) yet feel un-equipped either physically or mentally, …then you ought to read this book!
Pros and Cons
- Leo’s information and advice is rock-solid, based on years of international travel to many different countries.
- Great book for anyone who may have previously only considered “travel photography” to be simply about photographing the iconic places, and not the people themselves. (or for anyone who has simply been too afraid to photograph a complete stranger!)
- I know it is a lot to ask of an e-book, but I wish there had been more of a narrative, or some tales of specific adventures. This might have spiced up the flood of solid tips and instructions a little bit.
- I simply wish there was more! At a price of just $19 the book is a great value, but I might have paid more $$ if it had been even longer. I could tell that Leo wished to avoid rambling on, and sometimes I personally enjoy reading a rambling tale or two. But that’s just me!
Although the writing could use a little polish and an extra narrative here or there would have been nice, the content is solid and valuable for everyone who is interested in this subject. The e-book is available for $19 HERE on Leo Edwards’ website.
The best way for me to sum up Leo’s insight and core philosophy about adventure photography, especially the concept of making portraits of complete strangers, is this one quote from the book:
The most useful tool in a travel photographer’s kit bag is not a long lens – it’s empathy. Long zoom lenses are designed to help us narrow the depth of ﬁeld and compress perspective. They are simply compositional aids, not secret sniper devices that allow photographs to be made covertly without our subject realizing what we are doing. Leave the long lenses to the paparazzi and just concentrate on getting to know your subject a little before pressing the shutter.
This advice will really hit home with anyone who has felt that internal struggle regarding photographing strangers in a far-away land. I traveled to Seville, Spain once, and spent most of the time avoiding contact with strangers, capturing still-life photos of inanimate objects…
While there’s nothing wrong with a cool B&W photo of a really old statue, I regret falling into my introverted habits as I wandered the streets of such a diverse culture.
By comparison, Leo’s approach to travel photography and the resulting images are so much more expressive of what truly represents travel photography: The people!