You've done a ton of research on your trip and you know every sight to see, every destination to photograph, and all the cool must-have pictures. Now forget them. Sure, you should see all there is to see, but more often than not you'll find your favorite travel photographs by accident.
When I hit a new town, I like to wander around on my first day and get the lay of the land. In fact, on most of my trips I just wander around from place to place, experimenting with the public transit system, asking people for directions, and discovering wonderful things. You get a great feeling for an area by walking the streets with no agenda and no itinerary.
Figure 4.9. "I found La Placita Village in Tucson while taking a walk from my hotel after arriving," Reed Hoffmann said. "Great colors and lightI spent many hours shooting there." (Photo by Reed Hoffmann)
Ask a hotel concierge where the hottest spots in town are for photography. Go into a pub and (after a few pints) ask around to see what places people in the town think are worth checking out. Or just wander around and see where you end up. I can't count the times I've taken a stroll around a town or village and stumbled upon something fascinating.
Never underestimate the power of chance to guide you, both in travel photography and in photography in general. Sometimes mistakes and "happy accidents" produce the best results.
The hub of many European cities is the main train station, an excellent place to look for photographic opportunities. Even better, many larger cities offer a walking-tour book, produced by the local tourist board, which are almost always sold at the train station's bookshop. Available in most languages, these walking tours showcase everything a city has to offer. (I once saw one that said, "This area has all the amenities a good red light district should…") The English translations are usually good for a smile, and the tours comprehensive.
Figure 4.10. Taken while walking home from dinner in Queenstown, New Zealand. (Photo by Reed Hoffmann)
Be on the lookout for street fairs, open-air markets, bazaars, parades, festivals, celebrations, and public exhibits. The mix of colors, activities, and interesting people offers endless photographic possibilities. Better yet, at most of these events people not only let you take their picture, they're looking forward to it.