One of the most disconcerting discoveries I had upon arriving in Beijing was that in most respects it didn't look all that different from Los Angeles. It was packed with cars, bicycles, pedestrians, huge shopping centers, and office buildings. Aside from the people, signs, and a few of buildings being Chinese, Beijing could have been almost any oversized Western metropolis. Combine that with gray skies and flat lighting caused by air pollution, and the result is a city that is not particularly photogenic. This is true of many other travel destinations as well--you can't just start snapping pictures of everything you see and expect them to be any good; you've got to work for them, just as you would if you were at home.
Since I was travelling with my wife and kids, I didn't have the luxury of being able to photograph wherever and whenever I wanted. That meant I had to be extra alert to any opportunity to shoot anthing better than the average tourist "happy snaps." For me, these opportunities presented themselves in the form of dramatic lighting, colors, graphic shapes, patterns, and weather conditions. They may not have appeared as often as I might have liked, yet often enough that I had a good time taking advantage of them. Had I been there longer or in the right places, I could also have taken advantage of special occasions and activities, such as festivals, ceremonies, games, sports, and so on. No matter; as I often remind my kids, "You get what you get and you don't get upset."