A Storyteller's Guide to Travel and Photography

Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture

Do you love to take photos when you travel? Do you wonder about how to take great photos - both in terms of technique and how to tell a story? It's hard to find advice from an expert (unlike travel guides, right?) that combine photography and storytelling. Enter David Noyes, and his excellent new book, The Photographing Tourist: A Storyteller's Guide to Travel and Photography. 

A Storyteller's Guide to Travel and Photography

As a travel writer and photographer, David Noyes has been fortunate to visit some of the world's great places and has been touched by both the beauty and tragedy of the human condition. He has received numerous awards for his photography and travel writing including the North American Travel Journalist Association (NATJA) Travel Photographer of the Year, three consecutive years, and two prestigious Lowell Thomas Awards for excellence in travel journalism, where judges noted, "David Noyes provides a sensible and persuasive argument in text and photos for taking the time to learn how to take pictures more thoughtfully when we travel. The stories are there, all around us, and all we need to do is connect, interact, learn and shoot. The book provides clear and simple tips for how to bring home beautiful images, even in situations (like group tours) where access is limited and less conducive to creativity. It's a real gift to the traveler looking for authenticity."

A graduate of R.I.T. and Harvard University, David started his career as a corporate and advertising photographer. He was also the founding publisher and editor of two award-winning lifestyle and travel magazines, including AAA Western and Central New York's membership magazine. In 2013, David launched Innocent Eyes Project, Inc., a United States-based nonprofit corporation that supports child education programs in the developing world. He lives in Buffalo, New York.

The Photographing Tourist explores the photographic challenges of traveling on a guided or escorted tour — the "tour" in tourist.  For a photographer, traveling as a tourist presents many challenges, the most significant is the constraint of an itinerary. "Meet back on the bus in 30 minutes" are dreaded words if you hope to create beautiful photography in an unfamiliar place. That doesn't mean that you can't produce great photography on a tour; it just means you need to appreciate your travel experience and make the most of the thirty minutes, hour, or two hours you have before moving on to the next location.

Filled with Noyes' stories about isolated cultures, exploring local life, and challenging personal adventures, this storyteller's guide to travel and photography reads like an eight-month collection of your favorite travel magazine. From environmental portraits and local lifestyles to landmarks and sacred places, the chapters explore different photographic subjects that a tourist photographer will encounter. The book also includes technical shorts with valuable information on elements of design, composition, depth of filed, exposure, using lines, and developing a point of view.

Chapters to delve into:
* Going Beyond the Snapshop
* Local Lifestyles
* Where People Gather
* Spiritual Worlds and Sacred Places
* Landmarks and Famous Places
* Nature's Spectacle
* The Adventure Begins

The Photographing Tourist was written to be a timeless book that includes traveling as a photographer as well as the techniques of travel photography. You will learn to think differently about travel and photography, and how to investigate a destination as part of the human condition. Above all, this book will encourage you to truly cherish your chance encounters as you photograph the world. Highly recommended!

David Noyes, author of The Photographing Tourist: A Storyteller's Guide to Travel and Photography

We were lucky enough to catch up with Noyes, and ask him about his book, inspiration, takeaways, surprises, and more. Here's what he had to say...

Please tell us about your book, The Photographing Tourist...
As a travel writer and photographer I have had a chance to visit some of the world’s truly amazing places and share my stories and images in travel magazines and websites. As the title suggests, most of my work as a travel journalist has been on an organized tour, with a planned itinerary and usually with a group of strangers. It is also how most of us travel, especially to distant or exotic places. The book is a collection of more than 300 photographs and adventures stories with some tips, advice, and insights that I have gathered over the years. I have tried to create a “magazine-style” reading experience with a blend of short technical information, travel anecdotes, and 12 magazine length feature stories that will hopefully inspire readers to think differently about travel and photography.

What inspired you to write this book?
In essence, I have experienced the world and enjoyed success in travel journalism as a professional “tourist.” I think it is a unique twist on the travel photography story. Today, we are all photographers all the time with our various gadgets. I wanted to contribute some advice on how we as tourists can respectfully navigate our increasingly accessible world, with a camera in our hands. I also enjoyed the thought of putting a collection of my work into a book and introducing readers to some remote corners of the world through pictures and stories.

Everest. From The Photographing Tourist: A Storyteller's Guide to Travel and Photography by David Noyes


What do you hope readers take away from reading this book?
A camera can very easily be a barrier between people, or something for a tourist to hide behind. But it can also be used as a tool to enrich your travel experiences and as a bridge across cultures that can change the way you interact with people. There is nothing more difficult for a tourist photographer than approaching a stranger and ask to take their picture. Often the answer is NO, but when someone says YES, for one brief moment, you have been given a gift…and a chance to connect with another human being in a very personal way. 

The purpose of travel, of course, is to explore and experience, to see the world for ourselves. It is about sharing an intimate knowledge of a culture and unique way of life through song, dance, and story. It is about mutually beneficial interactions between different worldviews, bridging the gap between cultures and generations, and it is about developing a respect for our common humanity.

How do you suggest travelers combine photography and storytelling?
Venturing into an unfamiliar place can be a frightening and intimidating experience, even for a seasoned traveler. The temptation is to keep a safe distance, to stay within our comfort zone. I enjoy traveling to places that take me outside of my comfort zone and challenge my understanding of the world. If you travel with the intention of truly exploring a destination or culture, it will change your travel experience. You are no longer simply sightseeing or passively looking - you are actively engaged in creating your own interactive travel memories. The goal is to return home not just with a collection of photographs and stories, but to have learned something about yourself by letting each culture, person, and place you visit impact you along the way. 

What surprised you, in writing this book?
As a self-publisher, in charge of every aspect of the creation of the book, I knew it would be a long, challenging project. I was lucky to have found a wonderful design team who helped me realize my vision. I truly did produce the book I had hope for when I first started outlining the idea. It was certainly a risk. I didn’t really know how it would be received. What has been surprising is the response I have received from readers, and the 15 national and international book awards it has won for photography, travel, and design. 

Namibia. From The Photographing Tourist: A Storyteller's Guide to Travel and Photography by David Noyes


What's up next for you?
Over the years, I have made an effort to photograph children. Increasingly, the stories I wanted to tell were about the often-marginalized children I was meeting along the edges of my adventures. We enter their world for a brief moment and then we go home, taking with us our pictures and memories, but often leaving nothing behind. Over time, I determined that I could do more - I could actually help change the course of a young life.

A couple years ago, I launched Innocent Eyes Project, a US-based nonprofit charity to support grassroots child education programs in developing countries, where small amounts of money can make a real difference in the lives of children. With this project, I have joined the global initiative to help children of the world receive a quality education. I am no longer just a storyteller, I am a part of the story. 

A portion of book sales goes to support Innocent Eyes Project.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?
The book is most easily available through Amazon.com and my website: noyestravels.com. 

I sign each book ordered off of my site…and pack and ship personally! I do also post new work on Facebook, and on Twitter and Instagram (note: links below!).

I have recently made two trips to Cuba and will be leading trips there in April and October, 2017. Anyone interested in more information can contact me at david[at]noyestravels.com. Please use “Cuba trip information” in the subject line.

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All photos courtesy and copyright David Noyes