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One realization that I had a number of years back after a trip was that I was actually thinking in terms of 'capturing' photos of people. Learn a few words in their language, smile lots, tell them something about yourself (or show them a picture of your family at home), take an interest in their work, home and family, show them the pictures you've taken of them on your LCD, tell them that they look great, shake their hands and generally be polite and warm and you'll find that photographing them is a much richer experience for all. Also knowing a bit about the culture and what is and isn't appropriate in terms of your dress, interactions between genders and more can be very useful to know. The results of this approach are that not only do both subject and photographer potentially come away having experienced something of value - but the photographs you take are generally better as the subject is more relaxed, you might have been able to get a little closer and there is some kind of connection between the two of you. One of the most debated issues around the topic of photographing people when traveling is whether you need to ask their permission first. I've heard strong arguments both for and against asking permission ranging 'anything goes' type approaches right through to people asking that you need to get written releases for every person you photograph. My approach above comes out of my own experiences, cultural perspective, personality and perhaps even ethics. When photographing people in their local context there are a number of techniques that I try to use (not all of them in every shot as some are mutually exclusive). Choose your Background - I've already talked about making shots contextual but one great way to do this is to think about what's in the background behind the people you're photographing. Fill your Frame - Some of the best shots I've taken of people while traveling have been where I've tightly frames people's faces. Go for natural (un-posed shots) - While sometimes the posed shots can work quite well they can also lack a certain authenticity. Add another subject - Most of the shots I've taken of people over the years while traveling have been of single subjects alone in the shot. Photograph a variety of people - Quite often it's the shots of people dressed in national costume that tend to attract photographers when traveling. Arrange an extended photo shoot - This goes against the nature of most travel photography which is usually very fast and spontaneous - but on one or two occasions when I've traveled I've had opportunity to sit with a person for a longer period of time and photograph them in a more extended manner.
Get Candid - keep your camera to the eye for taking those spontaneous shots between the more posed ones. Lens Choice - I'm a big believer in that virtually any lens can take a good portrait shot if you work to it's strengths. Today I found out that uniform regulation in the British Army between the years 1860 and 1916 stipulated that every soldier should have a moustache. Although the act of shaving one’s upper lip was trivial in itself, it was considered a breach of discipline. Western Women tend to wax or shave their moustaches, those that can grow them anyways, but Mexican artist Frida Kahlo actually celebrated not only her ‘stache, but also her unibrow, including putting them in her very famous self portrait seen to your right. The oldest known depiction of a man with a moustache goes all the way back to 300 BC.  The depiction was of an Ancient Iranian horseman. The longest moustache ever recorded was in Italy on March 4, 2010, and measured in at 14 ft.
English Moustache: Thin moustache with the hair on a line in the middle of the upper lip sideways, with the hair at the corner of the mouth slightly shaped upwards. Imperial: Includes not only hair from above the upper lip, but also extends beyond into cheek hair, all of which is curled upward.


Fu Manchu: moustache where the ends are styled downwards, sometimes even beyond the bottom of the chin. Handlebar Moustache: a somewhat bushy version of the Dali, but without the strict regulation of having the hair shaved past the side of the lips.
Toothbrush: The moustache made popular by Charlie Chaplin, but  whose popularity hit a sharp decline thanks to one Adolph Hitler. Walrus: very similar to the Hungarian, except without the strict length limit on the hair overhanging the upper lip.
Chaplin stated that he used the toothbrush moustache as it looked funny and also allowed him to show his expressions more fully than an alternatively comical moustache that covered more of his face would have. Find Us On YouTube!Subscribe today to check out our free Daily Knowledge Youtube video series!
Cobweb tattoos have become very popular these days with people who were never convicts, but the cobweb is most definitely a prison tattoo. In a sense I was photographing them in a similar way to the other tourist 'sites' that I was photographing along the way - almost as trophies. This doesn't mean you need to have talked to them for hours, swapped numbers and told you deepest secrets before photographing them - but it does mean that taking their photograph can actually become a friendly interaction between people from different cultures.
Gestures like this usually cross all language barriers and their response is generally just as obvious.
This is something that different photographers have different standards on but for me it doesn't quite feel right. For example I'm told by my US friends that in the US anything visible or in plain view from a public area can be legally photographed (including people). Ideally you want something that's not too distracting but that adds to the context of the place you're shooting in.
This means either getting in nice and close to the person or having and using a good zoom lens. This is partly just my style (and is a good technique in and of itself ) but is something I've become quite aware of in the last few months. While these shots can be very effective I wonder if they are always really representative of a culture.
This enables your photographs to take a on a story telling nature and can lead to some wonderful sequences of shots using different photographic techniques, lenses and situations to shoot in. It's amazing what images that you can find when the person isn't 'ready' for you to shoot (or just after you've taken a shot).
If a soldier were to do this, he faced disciplinary action by his commanding officer which could include imprisonment, an especially unsavory prospect in the Victorian era.
Beard and moustache growth was rampant, especially in India where bare faces were scorned as being juvenile and un-manly, as well as in Arab countries where moustaches and beards were likewise associated with power. By the 1860s, moustaches were finally compulsory for all the Armed Forces and they became as much an emblem for the Armed Forces as the Army uniform.
This was largely because such a superficial requirement was getting ignored in the trenches of WWI, especially as they could sometimes get in the way of a good gas mask seal.  The order to abolish the moustache requirement was signed on October 6, 1916 by General Sir Nevil Macready, who himself hated moustaches and was glad to finally get to shave his off. I do tend to travel with little gifts from home in Australia which I do sometimes give to people that I meet along the way - but I don't really use these as 'payments'.


For a legal opinion you might want to consult a legal expert in the region to which you're traveling. Another technique for shooting shots of people that ignores the 'contextual' rule is to find a brightly lit position with a dark background. Quite often these people have dressed up especially for a show or tourist attraction and the majority of people in that country look quite different.
While no longer in force today, there are still regulations governing moustaches and, if worn, they can grow no further than the upper lip.  It is also still extremely common for British soldiers in Afghanistan to wear beards, as facial hair is still associated with power and authority in many Islamic regions. This can create confusion, as the Nuestra Familia gang also uses the number 14 in their tattoos. The symbolism of the cobweb is the association with spiders trapping prey and criminals being trapped behind bars. In some places a teardrop represents a long prison sentence, in other places the teardrop represents that the bearer committed a murder. This can really help the face you're shooting to pop out and capture the viewer's attention. No long is the shot just about a person and their environment but it somehow becomes relational. Mix up the types, gender and ages of people that you take photos of and you can end up with a very effective collage of faces of a country. I find setting my camera to continuous shooting mode (where it will shoot burts of frames quickly) often leads to some wonderful candid shots.
Going for wide angle lenses can also produce interesting shots but you will often find that they do distort your subject's face a little (sometimes this is very effective).
The spider web represents the prison (that's deep bro.) This tattoo is commonly found on the elbow because it also represents a lot of time with your elbows on the table. The viewer of the photo begins to wonder about the relationship and a new layer is added to your shot. Choosing a longer focal length can be useful for putting your subjects a little more at ease.
The 14 words are a quote by nazi leader David Lane: "We must secure the existence of our people and a future for White Children" The 88 is shorthand for the 8th letter of the alphabet twice, HH, which represents Heil Hitler. This can symbolize an attempted murder, or that one of the inmate's friends was murdered and that they are seeking revenge.
These tattoos can be found anywhere on the body, it doesn't have to be on the forehead, like this gentleman is displaying. Rappers and other celebrities have popularized teardrop tattoos, which has led to many non-convicts getting the prison tattoos just for the 'hard' look it creates. If you are considering getting a teardrop tattoo, be warned: If you go to prison for the first time while sporting an unauthentic prison tattoo, you will make a lot of enemies, real fast. If you see a multi-colored web, it's probably not a prison tat; prison tattoo artists rarely have access to colored ink.




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