Great Travel Photos with Simple Cameras: Ecuador

My number 1 tip for aspiring travel photographers: You do not need expensive or complex equipment to take great travel photographs!

In fact, sometimes bulky and complex gear may even prevent you from capturing a fleeting moment.

The only things you do need are:

  1. Good luck/light/the right weather/an interesting subject
  2. The ability to visualize (or recognize) an intriguing image
  3. An accessible camera
  4. An understanding of the limitations of your equipment
In this series I will give examples and an explanation of how those factors came together to produce some of my favorite shots – those that enrich my understanding of the people and places I encounter around the planet.

Boy with One Skate

If my point & shoot Olympus Stylus Epic hadn’t been in my pocket I never would have captured this moment before it passed.

I have varied the contents of my photography kit considerably over time.  Sometimes I carry two camera bodies, multiple types of film, 3-4 lenses, a tripod and more.  Sometimes the list seems endless as I contemplate how each piece of gear could alter the limitations of my equipment and open up new possibilities.

Some of my favorite travel photos, however, have involved only a simple digital or film point & shoot camera.  Freeing myself of all that kit allows me to move faster, lighter and be more flexible in responding to a subject.

These images were taken with a very simple camera.  I used an Olympus Stylus Epic point & shoot film camera with Kodak TriX 400 black & white film.  It was processed through drug-store lab and scanned at home.

All I had to do was recognize a moment happening right in front of me, retrieve the camera from my shirt pocket, turn off the flash and press the shutter.

As you can see, I used nothing fancy to get these.  I even bought the film at the same drug-store that processed it.

I encountered the boy playing with one skate (above) while I wandered through the Plaza Grande outside La Catedral de Quito in Ecuador.  I often wonder what happened to the other skate.  Does he share with his brother?  Did he never have it?  Was this skate recycled or saved from the trash?  In either event, he seemed grateful to play with what he had.

Taking the Bus Home from School

Could you have grabbed your SLR from under your seat on the chicken bus in time to snap this shot?

This second shot was taken on a bus near Canoa in Manabí, Ecuador.  These two kids were in uniform and were riding one of the region’s rural buses home from school.

Having an easily accessible camera in my pocket was essential.  I knew from experience with this camera and relatively fast film that I could get a good enough exposure, even under contrasty lighting but that didn’t matter much as I was willing to take a chance.

And that’s another great piece of travel photography advice: Don’t be afraid to take a chance! If you see something that catches your eye, take the shot, and don’t worry too much about how good / bad your equipment it. If you’ve got a good eye, and you understand your equipment, you can snap some great shots like these.


Guy Deckard

About Guy Deckard

Guy Deckard recently stepped away from his corporate cubicle life to travel. He likes to meander with an analog film camera in one hand and a cerveza in the other.