Commandments from the Mountain
Tusker founder Eddie Frank has been shooting adventure for over four decades, taking over 30,000 photos and countless hours of video. His photo tips range from the technical to the cerebral and will make you a better photographer on the trail, whether trekking in Mongolia, or getting lost in an African village. Here are his insider tips.
1. Research your Destination
Do your homework on culture, architecture, weather, landscapes, animal behavior, cultural festivals, food, local customs and laws. This is the foundation of both your adventure and your ability to anticipate great shots. By arming yourself with a solid knowledge bank you can start making a mental photo list as well as the do’s and don’ts.
2. Target Fellow Travelers
Most travelers are after iconic location shots, such as Machu Picchu, Everest Base Camp, etc. If you’re with a group don’t forget to shoot your travel pals as they challenge themselves on Kilimanjaro, or mingle with the nomads in Mongolia. That joyous moment has all the expression to tell the bigger story of your journey.
3. Get Lost
Your best people shots will be of locals so wander off and spend time with the locals – on your own. By gaining their trust, you’ll get shots of local markets, families and cultural encounters.
It’s your best currency in a far-off land. It’s a universal language and breaks down barriers.
5. Ask for an Okay
Don’t be afraid to ask someone to take their photo. It may wind up being a negotiation, in which case you get your shot. Worse thing is they can say no, but at least you tried.
6. Follow Through
If you’ve promised someone a picture, take the trouble to send it when you get home. You’re laying the road for other photographers and your future trips. It’s also good karma.
7. Move It
When shooting a person, move around your subject. This will cover all lighting conditions, allow you to establish a rapport with your subject and provide more opportunities to capture different expressions.
8. Get Close
When shooting a scene, get up close with small elements like a blade of grass, a window reflection, a pebble or a drop of water. Many of these small parts of the bigger scene help tell the full story.
9. Moving Parts
Try and capture movement, whether it’s the wind blowing sand, clouds moving across the sky or a horse swinging its tail.
10. Know Your Instrument
Master your camera back at home by practicing with it in various situations. Don’t get bogged down on the trip trying to understand how your camera works.
11. Protect Your Instrument
Keep your camera clean and dry. Protect it from falls and the elements by using a protective case and Ziploc bags.
12. Have Enough Memory
‘One card a day’ is a good rule. Stash them separately from your camera. You spread the risk if a card goes bad or your camera gets stolen.
13. Bring Enough Juice
Have enough battery power or the means to keep it charged. Extra batteries or power packs such as those made by Mophie will provide juice for your camera.
14. Back it Up
Take a hard drive with you and back up your pics daily.
15. No Regrets
Never leave a place wishing you should have taken a particular shot. Take lots and err on the side of too many. Whittle them down when you get home and go home regretless.
16. Childish State of Mind
This may be the first and last time you’ll go to this place. Put yourself in a childlike state of wonderment approaching your destination with a youngster’s excitement. There’s always something new out there for you.
17. Get Up!
Wake up early and capture nature’s magical morning light.
18. Shoot Video
Most cameras nowadays have a video setting. Video is just a lot of still shots. So if you shoot video, you’ll be able to isolate individual frames – like freezing the action.
19. Backup Camera
Your smartphone is your backup camera. Keep it charged up, and in a safe place. Anything can happen.
Now that you’re armed with knowledge, get out there and shoot your adventure!