Learn About a Subject When Travelling

One of the real joys of travel photography is learning about other cultures and sharing that new world with others back home.

Here is a natural light portrait of a man I met in Alaska. He was giving a lecture on Alaska’s indigenous people. Most of the people who saw him simply snapped his picture and walked away. I took the time to find out a bit more about him. What I learned gives the photograph much more meaning to me, and to those who read about this native culture.

His American name is David Ramos and his native Alaskan name is Aaskuwat'eesh. He is Raven, of the Gineixkwaan clan of the Owl house. His owl headdress is made of abalone shells, ermine fur, rabbit fur and sea lion whiskers. To signify the Owl house, David is wearing a sewn beaded owl around his neck. He is also wearing a copper necklace. David’s clan is called the “Copper Digging Clan” because he comes from the Copper River. The clan used copper for money.

I took this picture in a bar on a cruise ship. By carefully framing David in front of a plant and a wooden wall, and by using a Canon 28-105mm zoom set at 100mm to slightly blur the background, and by placing David near a window for flattering side-lighting, I was able to create the effect that the picture was taken on location in a village, and not a on a ship with 2,000 passengers.

As a way of saying “thank you” for posing for my picture, I e-mailed the photograph to David, which he greatly appreciated. When you photograph a stranger, sending a photo to him or her is not only a nice gesture, it’s very important, especially if you promise to do so.

Explore the Light,