Limited time to photograph a location: Make it work

Limited time to photograph a location: Make it work

Having limited time to photograph a location while we are traveling is something many of us have experienced.

Whether we are on family holidays or group tours that limit our time for photography, it can be frustrating. But there are ways you can still get the images you’d hoped for. 

An example of limited time

I recently traveled to Toronto to meet up with a group of photographer friends. You would think that would give you all the time you need to get the images you want, right? Well, not necessarily.

Seeing as many of us hadn’t seen each other for up to eight years in some cases, there was a lot of socialization going on. We had a lot of catching up to do. We also had a loose schedule of what was planned each day. Luckily we also had some free time.

The location on my list

The staircase at the Art Gallery of Ontario was designed by Frank Gehry. I have a list of everywhere there are Frank Gehry buildings or installations, just in case. I knew in my free time I would find a way to get there and create images of the stairs. 

Friends are great to have in situations like this. One of them offered to drive me to the museum. It was about a 45-minute drive or so. We happened to get a great parking spot and paid for 30 minutes of parking. Our goal was to head back out of downtown before traffic got too horrible.

Eight tips that help with limited time

  1. I let the people from the area and those I was traveling with know my plan. This helped me carve out the time and have someone offer to drive me to the location.
  2. Know the location in advance. Research images to get an idea of what you will see. Make sure you know the hours the place opens and closes. Find out if there are any rules about photography. 
  3. Have a plan once you get there. Knowing I only had 30 minutes I quickly assessed the location when I got there and started clicking the shutter.
  4. Be aware of other people in the same location. If you don’t want them in your photos, change your position or if you can, be patient and wait a bit for them to move on. If you can’t wait then do what you can to incorporate the people in your images.
  5. Don’t just spray and pray. Just because you don’t have a lot of time to compose images, don’t just take photos randomly. See tip #1. 
  6. Trust your gear. In some cases, without a tripod, I put my Canon 6D on auto mode. It saved me from spending time trying different settings. I spent my time composing the images instead.
  7. It may seem obvious but make sure you have a card in your camera and a backup or two on you. Carry an extra battery with you that is fully charged.
  8. Traveling with or relying on a local friend who knows the area. This saved me a ton of travel time, looking for parking and knowing where to go.

Happy with the results

So, 30 minutes. In. Out. Up and back down 138 stairs. Close to 200 images were created. Totally worth it.

Even though I had limited time and felt a bit rushed, I was still able to come away with some images I was quite happy with. During the process, I also stopped, took a breath and focused. Slowing down, even with limited time is essential. Hopefully, I’ll get back to be able to spend time visiting the entire museum.

Being prepared is always one of the best ways to ensure you get the images you’re hoping for. No matter how much time you have.