Tips for Great Travel Photography

June 22, 2012 by

Dream Travel Job, Photos & Videos, Travel Advice & Inspiration

Thanks to digital imaging, people nowadays are snap-happy. In fact, everyone seems to be a shutterbug! We can take as many photographs as we desire (as long as our memory cards let us), and we can worry about the editing process later.

But let’s face it…we’re sick of seeing the same ‘ol photographs of the Eiffel Tower and our friends standing in front of it with a cheesy smile. We want some good eye-candy, the kind of gorgeous imagery that you’ll want to print and frame as soon as you get home from your big trip.

Eiffel Tower cheesy

A classic (but cheesy) Eiffel Tower shot – gotta love it!

Here are some great tips to consider if you’re just starting out. Hey, you might even be the lucky winner of Viator’s Summer Photo Contest!

Before you go

Before you hit the road, you need to be prepared…and yes, this has a lot to do with equipment.

If you’re shooting with a DSLR, how do you figure out which equipment to take on the road? Photography School suggests you consider:

  • Weight: How much equipment do you need? Think about what you’ll be shooting, and only pack what you need. Consider WHERE you are shooting – is it likely your equipment could get stolen? Being weighed down will make it easier for such incidences to happen.
  • Lens: If you’re going to be shooting a lot of different subjects, try picking up a zoom lens that gives you a wide range of lengths. If you plan on shooting in low lighting, a lens with a really low shutter speed will be useful.

You also need to do your research beforehand to understand the customs and traditions of a place. You need to know not to act in a rude or offensive matter, even if you don’t realize what you’re doing is wrong. This includes taking photos! Read up on all culturally sensitive areas of a new place, especially when it comes to taking photographs of people or sacred places.

Techniques

Oh boy, the learning process is endless. But you don’t HAVE to be a pro to take great photographs…sometimes you just need to experiment! These techniques will help get you started.

Travel photography

Don’t forget to take pictures of people!

  • Variety is the spice of life! Sure, you might be enamored by every pretty building you see in Prague, but it’s essential to MIX IT UP. You’ll come home and your friends and family will wonder if you made any friends on your trip at all, or if YOU were even present. Food, markets, people, landscapes, buildings, and even your accommodations all make interesting subject matter.
  • Another thing to remember: if you’ve been staying in one spot for a long time, the quirks and charms of a place start to go unnoticed. Make sure you capture everything that amused you right from day one. When you want to look back on your time abroad, those little details will be incredibly satisfying.
Travel photography

Try out an interesting angle

  • If you’re using a DSLR, learn the most important elements of photography. This usually begins with exposure, which is the amount of light that falls on a lens, determined by aperture and shutter speed. Sound confusing? It gets easier with practice! Pick up a few books on the basics, or simply look for online guides. Wild Junket has a few great introductory lessons for travel photography.
  • Framing is another travel photography technique that many people surprisingly have difficulty with. How do you want to portray your subject? If you’re taking pictures of friends or loved ones, get in close. Have the subject fill the frame.
Travel photography

Make sure to frame the image properly – you don’t want to cut off the subject.

  • Another useful technique to keep in mind while framing is the “rule of thirds.” In photography, the best compositions are usually split into fields of about equal thirds. For this rule, you’ll want your focal point to be about one third of the way from the top, bottom, or one of the sides of your picture. For example, if you have a sunset, don’t make the horizon line smack dab in the center of the image. Move it up or down to keep it interesting.
  • Be aware of the sun. Typically, you want the sun at your back so that it illuminates your photos. Sometimes, however, you’ll want to keep the glare off your lens to capture a better image. The notoriously best time to capture photos is during the “golden hour,” referring to the last or first hour of daylight which creates a soft glow no matter where you are. The golden hour also casts fantastic shadows that will cause some interesting and unusual shapes!
Ayers Rock

Rule of thirds: the subject takes up one-third of the photo, creating a nice balance.

  • Don’t have a tripod? Don’t worry! You just need to learn how to hold your camera properly to limit camera shake and blur. Hold the camera with both elbows braced against your body, or use an interlocking grip with one hand cupping the underside of the lens and the other hand holding the side of the camera. Stand with your feet wide apart to give you better balance.

Returning home

This might be the most important piece of advice we can offer you in regards to travel photography: BACK UP YOUR PHOTOS, as soon as you arrive home! Buy a flash drive to store all your images. Nowadays you can find a good one for less than $60, and you’ll have some peace of mind about the well-being of your images.

Seriously, do you really want to collect hundreds of memories via photograph, only to lose them all? We didn’t think so either. Time to go shopping!

Candice Walsh

Read more about travel photography or browse our travel tips, or follow us on Pinterest for updates of some of our favorite travel photos!

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5 Responses to “Tips for Great Travel Photography”

  1. saki Says:

    little mistake in “Before you go”
    low light will require low aperture or shutter speed.. definitely not fast shutter speed! 🙂

  2. fitri suryani Says:

    yess thx for sharing to me very good

  3. Costa rica luxury villa rental Says:

    I found very interesting information on your blog, especially its discussion. From the tons of comments on your article, I guess I am not the only one interested in this subject.

  4. Laura Says:

    Oops, thanks for catching that! 🙂

  5. Al Girard Says:

    You say under lens, for low light use a lens with a really slow shutter speed. The shutter is in the camera, not the lens. What you should have said, is get a lens with a wide aperture. Such as f1.2)