Few places provide a condensed, in-your-face snapshot of human life, in all its colors, like a street market.
Istanbul's Grand Bazaar, Seattle's Pike's Place Market, the Granville Island Public Market in Vancouver, the Otavalo Indian Market in Ecuador, Bogota's Paloquemao market -- these are experiences that can define a trip.
Or at least a day out.
I've visited all of them, in some cases skipping monuments and museums to explore them.
I visit them to get a window into the culture, find the perfect souvenir, practice my language skills or have a meal to remember.
And I love to photograph them.
But it's not just a case of seeing something bright and colorful and snapping away.
I've picked up several tips for getting the best results in what are often crowded, hot, uncomfortable places to shoot.
1. Ugly is interesting
Gorgeous flowers and luscious fruit are always beautiful to look at.
But sometimes "ugly" subjects make more compelling pictures.
A butcher in a bloody apron or a fishmonger gutting a large snapper are examples of scenes you might normally shy away from, but look great in photos. .
A teacher of mine once used the term "ugly beautiful."
I keep that phrase in mind whenever I shoot.
2. Focus on faces
All those exotic fruits and lush flowers make awesome subjects.
But don't forget about the men and women selling their wares.
I encountered some of the most expressive faces in all of Bogota at the Paloquemao market.
It always helps to be friendly and ask permission before snapping a photo -- some people will mug for your camera, though others will quickly wave you away.
And never forget to focus on the eyes of your subject.
3. Get close and fill the frame
Distill a scene to its most basic elements and you end up with more powerful images.
Wide shots can help you set the scene, but at the sacrifice of details.
Getting close to your subject -- from a vividly colored bucket of corn to a group of wooden spoons -- can make your photographs more interesting.
Watch your focus when you're filling the frame, and avoid oversaturation in the post-production process.