Two2Travel Panagbenga

Work with what you have | Travel Photo Tip 2

phototraveltips 2

I’m sure you’ve heard of this before:

the best camera is the one that’s with you.™

This famous statement was coined by photographer Chase Jarvis (who proceeded to own the trademark). It’s a rather hard lesson to learn, but it’s true that the camera is only as good as you make it.

So in the end, it hardly matters what gear you use. Those who do not have DSLRs should therefore not feel discouraged that good photos only come with expensive cameras.

In the same way, those with all the gear in the world should never assume that good photos come automatically—or automagically, for that matter.

It always boils down to this:

work with what you have.

This is especially true when traveling. You can’t always bring everything you have, unless you want to carry a bag full of metal on your back while walking in a strange place. From experience, this just spoils the fun and makes photography seem like a burden—which it is not.

Festivals are especially difficult to take photos of because of the crowds and the occasional problem of not having media accreditation. Last weekend, I went on this self-imposed challenge to take photos of the Panagbenga parades with only my phone. I left my DSLR behind, and since I didn’t get an accredited ID, I decided to take pictures along South Drive where marshals don’t usually check you for hobbyist or media IDs.

When in similar situations, the challenge always is to use any camera like a DSLR. In this particular case, if you can’t zoom in or out, you use your feet instead to go nearer or farther your subject.

Applying the basic rules of composition helps too. If the lighting is bad, move around or wait for the right light instead.

All images shown here were taken with an iPhone 4 and post-processed using Snapseed (from the genius makers of Nik Software) and Instagram.


Look for patterns and shadows. Festivals are full of them.

TWO2TRAVEL | Panagbenga 2013

TWO2TRAVEL | Panagbenga 2013

TWO2TRAVEL | Panagbenga 2013


Take shots of small details for context.

TWO2TRAVEL | Panagbenga 2013

TWO2TRAVEL | Panagbenga 2013

TWO2TRAVEL | Panagbenga 2013


Try experimenting with color after taking photos.

Turning them into grayscale or black and white can reveal patterns not visible in their full-color version. Turning monochrome can also put more focus on the subject if you’re working with a busy background you want to eliminate, as is the case in the next photo.

TWO2TRAVEL | Panagbenga 2013

TWO2TRAVEL | Panagbenga 2013

TWO2TRAVEL | Panagbenga 2013

TWO2TRAVEL | Panagbenga 2013

TWO2TRAVEL | Panagbenga 2013

TWO2TRAVEL | Panagbenga 2013


Experiment with angles.

TWO2TRAVEL | Panagbenga 2013

TWO2TRAVEL | Panagbenga 2013

TWO2TRAVEL | Panagbenga 2013

TWO2TRAVEL | Panagbenga 2013


Take photos from above, the hip, and below. Get as close to your subjects as you can.

TWO2TRAVEL | Panagbenga 2013

TWO2TRAVEL | Panagbenga 2013

TWO2TRAVEL | Panagbenga 2013

TWO2TRAVEL | Panagbenga 2013


Don’t forget to take photos of the crowd.

TWO2TRAVEL | Panagbenga 2013

TWO2TRAVEL | Panagbenga 2013

TWO2TRAVEL | Panagbenga 2013

TWO2TRAVEL | Panagbenga 2013


And the dancers too.

TWO2TRAVEL | Panagbenga 2013

TWO2TRAVEL | Panagbenga 2013

TWO2TRAVEL | Panagbenga 2013

TWO2TRAVEL | Panagbenga 2013

Whether you’re using a lomo, a Polaroid, or a camera phone, master its technicalities so that it will work well for your purposes. Photography didn’t start with a high-end DSLR, nor should it end with it.

If you’re not convinced yet, watch Chase Jarvis on an episode of DigitalRev as he takes on Hong Kong with a very interesting camera. Watch till the end! :)

Keep shooting!




Two2Travel

Owen Ballesteros & Nikka Corsino are trigger-happy travelers from the Philippines. They both swear by the sharpness of Nikon and almost always carry a packet of instant coffee when traveling. Photography is their bread and butter, their passion, and sometimes the only thing that prevents them from killing each other. If you have offers of work, collaborations, or an endless supply of instant coffee, please drop them a message here.

  • http://www.lakadpilipinas.com/ Christian | Lakad Pilipinas

    ang galing naman! mas maganda pa mga kuha mo from your phone kesa sa dslr ko haha

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00779572056259030202 Two2Travel

    Thanks Christian! Sayang hindi tayo nakita, at ang gaganda ng photos mo!~Owen

  • http://www.reflectionsenroute.com/ Corinne

    Loved this video! So awesome! If you listen to Chase, he really gives you some excellent tips! Thanks for the post…

    • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00779572056259030202 Two2Travel

      Welcome, Corinne! DigitalRev has some really helpful episodes. Thanks for dropping by!

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