#274. Travel Photography as a Dynamic Duo

By pascaljappy | Opinion

Sep 04

A few weeks ago, friend and co-author Philippe visited me and we set out to photograph 2 of the local attractions : the Cap Canaille cliff in the pretty port of Cassis and the view from the Sainte-Baume, alleged last dwelling of Mary Magdelene, and pictured here.

After reviewing our respective photographs and finding both very similar and very different ones, we decided to write about the whole experience of shooting as a duo.



I want to be buried there ! (Pascal)


Photographers are often solitary creatures, but the advantages of walking out as a pair are too numerous to count.

So, let’s count them !


1) Emulation

Right now, my life is busy and hectic enough to make me feel like Hammy (of Over the hedge fame). So, when it comes to photography, I’m as lazy as they come.

My tripod lives in its bag.

Only one of my lenses ever catches photons, simply because it’s the one currently mounted to my camera.

Dawn and dusk adventures occur when the season makes them coincide with my natural cycles …



Waking up (Pascal)


… or when Philippe is around !

Most of the photographs on this page were made before or around sunrise. At the height of Provence summer, and 1 hour away from home, this implied getting up at sparrowfart.

On a sunday, no less.

Without Philippe, none of these photos would exist, because I would have arrived at a time of day when light simply is too harsh for any kind of beautiful colour.

It’s doubtful that my contribution to Philippe’s photo life went as far, but I hope emulation still played a 2-way game.

Philippe here. Emulation indeed! It was my first serious shoot with Pascal, and in 2 areas he knows by heart, and not I. But emulation is not competition. It wasn’t and isn’t about “getting the best shot”, or the most impressive one, for me, it is all about learning. Learning what I might have seen, what I could have shot. And, in this respect, Pascal is a master. Simply put, all his best shots are ones I didn’t even attempt. So viewing them was first a bit unsettling, then very gratifying.


New ideas

The picture below, one of my favourite from the day, was made while Philippe was working hard on composing a picture of a crevasse in rock. I saw definite potential in his scene but couldn’t fathom how to make something to my liking out of it. So moved on a few meters and stumbled upon this magical forest scene:



Enchanting Forest (Pascal)


Not my usual cup of tea, but watching Philippe sweat it out on the crevasse, I decided do work on this in the same manner : adjusting the tripod head in minute steps, monitoring the view in the viewfinder, changing depth of field, white balance … to converge towards the previsualised image.

My usual style is grab and post-process, no tripod, no regret. But there’s a lot to be said in favour of this deliberate approach (topic for a future article).

Philippe here. I am not sure it is all only about new ideas. It is also about working a scene in greater depth. While the partner is busy, what could one do, except look for some worthwhile composition? So, in a way, shooting in tandem means slower shooting, and digging deeper, past the easy pickings, and sometimes there are richer ones to be found.


Post processing tips

Author of a controversial “LightRoom vs Capture One shodown” post, Philippe uses different recipes from mine to post-process his photographs. We both prefer our respective efforts to the other’s but it’s alway interesting to compare notes and processes.


Philippe here. Neither Pascal nor I are hard-core PP guys. Both of us would ideally prefer our shot to be already looking its best straight out of camera.


A view from the Sainte Baume hermitage towards the Sainte Victoire mountain at sunrise. Provence, France

From Sainte Baume to Sainte Victoire (Philippe)


Room with a view (Pascal)


Dawn Layers (Pascal)


Review and critique

Here are 2 sets of photo each of us picked from the other’s sets and we might not have selected ourselves.

Most are still work in progress, but intent was clear enough to justify selection here. And it’s interesting to hear someone else comment on pictures made in conditions they experienced.



And the meek shall inherit the Earth (Philippe, picked by Pascal)


I am a trunk, I am an island (Philippe, picked by Pascal)



Pieta (Pascal, picked by Philippe)


Human vs Divine (Pascal, picked by Philippe)


Different points of view

This may be the most interesting if you’re in an introspective phase and working on your vision and style.

One scene, two photographers.


La Source de Nans , a fountain in the Sainte Baume massif in Southern Provence, France

La Source de Nans (Philippe)



La Source de Nans (Pascal)


It’s not about the best photograph. Or maybe it is, only “best” means “the one that reveals your intentions most clearly”. Which means only Philippe and I can judge the result. But what does this inspire in you ?

Philippe’s work always aims at promoting a personal point of view for the viewer. There is storytelling involved (see how your eyes go from the engraved name, down the water, along the “bridge” – really, a resting place for buckets – and forced back up by the deep shadows) and little post-processing gets in the way. It’s all about grabbing the viewer’s attention and stimulating the imagination.

Mine, in comparison, is more matte, more graphical & less evocative. More an object to be viewed and less of a story. I love portfolios and my storytelling is less present in single pictures. It’s very difficult to have that sort of analysis on your own, but reviewing the work of several persons highlights the differences.



Take a look at the first photograph on this page again. It shows a lovely little cemetery hidden behind a tall stone wall. On our side of the wall, simple plastic tables and simple plastic chairs, a simple cafe serving simple food to a no longer dynamic duo of tired photographers.

There are many pleasant moments in a photographer’s life but chimping in the sun with your buddy is one of the highlights. The chocolate pancakes and breathtaking views contributed significantly 😉

Philippe here. Ah, Pascal, you let the cat out of the bag and our precious secret is revealed! It is all about les crèpes, and scrumptious food, with photography an alibi. My friend, our reputation is irreparably compromised, and our goose is cooked! That said, I am always amazed that not more people shoot in pairs or small groups, because I find it so much fun, and such an opportunity too.  And, on this trip, not only was Pascal a friend, and, with his charming wife Lise, a pair of more than delighful hosts, but we were blessed with a fantasy sunrise, with mist rolling over the hills. Life could not have been better! Thank you, Pascal!


The clifss of Sainte Baume massif overlooking the plains of Nans les Pins and Plan d'Aups, in Provence

Farewell (Pascal)


As it turns out, I was to meet Paul Perton, also DS author and co-founder of the InSight: Guide ebook range, a few days later. The next article therefore continues this theme of working as a pair and the effect on your photography. Stay tuned.


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