National Geographic Traveler magazine is celebrating its 30th anniversary this fall. To commemorate this milestone, we asked 12 of our longtime photographers to select their favorite images shot on assignment for Traveler throughout the past three decades.
Today, we hear from photographer Bob Krist about the images above, which he shot for Traveler in 1999.
Although I’ve had a host of amazing assignments for Traveler (I started shooting for the magazine in its second year of operation), none stands out more than the piece I shot about Tuscany, which was written by best-selling author Frances Mayes, in 1999.
Something about the people and the landscape of the area clicked with me (not to mention the food and wine), and I never found myself asking that dreaded question: What is there to shoot? Pictures just seemed to jump into the camera.
I was still shooting film in those days, and to match Mayes’s romantic prose, I was using a very grainy film with a warming filter to get a sepia-toned, impressionistic, almost pointillist look to the photos. Something about this approach freed me from looking for the usual colorful, saturated pictures that are the hallmark of most travel photography.
Driving past the Tre Rose vineyards, between Cortona and Montepulciano, one sunny afternoon in early summer, I spotted activity in the rows of vines. Workers, mostly women, were trimming back the vines by hand.
So I pulled up to the vineyard and, in my pigeon Italian, explained what I was doing. The foreman nodded his okay, and I began photographing the workers in their broad-brimmed sun hats.
I tracked a trio of trimmers up the rows until their positions were just right and took this picture. Of course, the foreman didn’t let me leave the vineyard without laying on a bottle of their product, which went down very nicely with my dinner that night back at the agriturismo (a country B and B) that was my home for the assignment.
Photo Tip: Go out of your way to find people doing things that you can photograph, and once you’re granted access, keep shooting to make sure you capture the right moment. Every situation has at least one peak moment, where the light, gesture, and composition all come together, but if you’re waiting, and not shooting, you’re likely to miss it. In that way, photography is a little like baseball—you can’t hit it out of the park if you don’t keep swinging at the pitches.
See more of Bob Krist’s work at BobKrist.com.