18 Travel Photography Tips To Take Better Photos

Are you looking to become a travel photographer? Are you planning a vacation and intend to capture your time away?

Travel photography is more than just carrying your camera along on your trips. It is likened to a time machine capturing memories gotten from your trips and adventures. It is a means of conveying to others the spirit of a place; giving them a glimpse of what they stand to experience should they venture there.

To this end, I have put together some travel photography tips to help your capture great shots you’ll be proud to show off and even sell.


1. Research


Travel photography is to begin way before your arrival at your destination. Even while at home, it is necessary to do fairly thorough research on the location you intend to visit.

You want to spend some time finding out about the various photo opportunities locked up in the location, such as areas of natural beauty, interesting landmarks, and architecture. This research will also help you become familiar with the rules, laws, and cultures of the locals at your travel destination. This way, you can avoid committing any mistake or offense during your adventure.

If there’s is a festival or interesting event going, you’ll also be aware and possibly use them to your advantage in capturing stunning and memorable pictures. With the help of the internet, together with travel guides, it has never been easier to do this research.


2. Invest in a Lightweight Tripod


One camera accessory whose importance cannot be overemphasized is the tripod. This is particularly true when it comes to travel photography.

From experience, to achieve the best dramatic landscapes requires a great deal of stabilization. This, in turn, can best be achieved with a tripod.

This tool goes a long way to help you get creative with your shots, such as taking longer exposures. It also helps you achieve excellent shots as it forces you to be intentional and careful about each shot you take. This attribute comes in handy even in low light.

It may be important to note here that you don’t need to travel with a massive tripod. There is a variety of this tool in terms of weight, size, style of photography, and budget. Go for a lightweight and not-so-bulky option.


3. Explore Different Composition


One of the differences between an award-winning shot and an average one is a good composition. The freedom to experiment with new positions and angles is the beauty of this genre of photography. This experimentation allows you to achieve a better photo at the end of the day.

For instance, you can start your shot standing up straight, and then for a low angle try something different like laying on the ground. For a higher angle, you can also climb on something and make your shot.

More than just the difference in angles is the difference in distance. That means you can begin with a wide shot, move over to mid-range, and then get personal and up-close. The bottom line is to never be satisfied with your first shot.


4. Pay Attention to Every Detail


Sometimes, we can be so caught up with capturing tranquil beaches, wide landscapes, and busy street scenes and undermine other small details at the same destination.

As much as they still make for great photos and capture the atmosphere and beauty of the destination, looking out for smaller details is a great of some sort of variety to your shot.

The small details usually help in telling a more intimate story about the environment, thus giving the viewer a better sense of what you experienced during your travel or visit. Your eyes should always be kept peeled for elements that unique to your destination.

For instance, you find yourself in the countryside or a beach, you want to look out for nature’s elements so small such as leaves, flowers, shells, or pebbles.

More than achieving great shots, getting up close to capture the fine details of your subject or destination can lead to an interesting or new discovery about your destination.


5. Shoot During Golden Hour


Before arriving at any destination, it is essential to note their times of sunrise and sunset, otherwise known as the golden hour; and plan your photography around it.

These timeframes are very crucial to any genre of photography and have the potential of doing wonders for your shots. This is so for very good reasons.

During these times (sunrise and sunset), the sun usually lits up with wonderful and beautiful colors; providing beautiful scenery for your photography.

As beautiful as these timeframes are, they are short, and you are likely to lose them if you’re not positioned in the location well before. For instance, having the sun rising or setting at your back, casts upon your subjects a warm, orange glow. Also, shooting straight at the sun during sunset produces a dramatic scene.


6. Mind your Framing


One thing that always differentiates a great photo from others is framing. This technique is a good way of not only drawing your viewers’ attention to certain elements, or the subject of an image but keeps it there.

It transforms your photography from mere shots into a work of art. Framing is a way of developing a story for your shot. It goes a long way to give your image a sense of layers and depth. That is, it adds to your shot an extra dimension layer by putting something in the foreground.

One can achieve and create a good frame from about anything – from nature to color, architecture, and light. As much it makes your shot more interesting, it also helps your viewers with a better understanding of the destination.

This can be achieved with foliage and other scene elements. This technique goes a long way to make your image a lot more interesting.


7. Use Natural Light


Amongst all the factors that contribute to great photography, none is as important as light. Simply put, light is the bedrock/foundation of photography, and its most important and basic form is natural.

Artificial light such as fluorescent and tungsten lights is likely to cheapen your image. The natural light which is only sourced from the sun offers a lot of variety. That is photos shot under natural light can vary depending on which time of day they were shot.

Photos taken during the golden hour, during the sunny day, and at dusk will all look different from each other. Unlike artificial light, natural light is flexible and can be used for not just landscape photography, but portrait as well.


8. Remember the Rule of Thirds


The Rule of Thirds is one of the most classic and basic photography tips that help you create balanced compositions and improve your photography.

It helps transform a simple shot into something stunning ensuring that every section has something interesting. I also help you creatively make use of spaces surrounding the subject.

Using this technique to compose your photography can be easily done using the grid feature in your camera. When you turn the feature on, you get a display of a rule of thirds directly on your LCD screen.

What this feature does is break an image down into horizontal and vertical thirds, splitting them into different sections. The important parts of the photo are placed into those sections, and the overall image framed in an eye-pleasing way.


9. Get up Early Enough

Travel Photography Tips

Depending on your destination, it may be necessary to arrive at your location early enough to avoid a situation where there’ll be too much traffic and a crowd.

Particularly with popular attractions, the daytime is usually rammed full of people. This can hinder you from getting clean pictures with minimal people.

Also, you may want to take advantage of the reward and photo opportunities that come with early sunrise – the best light. While other tourists are sleep, you’re creating amazing memories.

Getting up early enough also helps with beating traffic that would have delayed your arrival at the destination.


10. Choose The Right Lenses


Travel photography comes with a great measure of flexibility and freedom, thus opening up a wide scope of photography styles and genres to explore. This can make it difficult to take along the right lens for your adventure.

Your choice of lens will take into consideration the kind of situation and style of photos you will be shooting. This is usually difficult in most cases.

If you are certain and precise about what style of photo you intend to take, you shouldn’t have a problem, as you already know what lens you carry along.

You don’t want to be lugging around with tons of lenses that may not be useful at the end of the day.


11. Travel with Extras


Whether the camera is new doesn’t mean it can be completely trusted. Sometimes things we least expect can happen. Knowing that you’re in an unfamiliar location, it is necessary to travel with extras should something go wrong.

For instance, your battery could rundown or discharges too quickly, particularly in destinations with cold temperatures. Also, you want to take along extra memory cards so you’re not stressed looking for where to get a memory card in an unfamiliar place. At best, you may have to delete some shots just to make room for others.

These accessories are lightweight and small; plus it’s better to regret carrying more of them than you need, instead of not having enough.


12. Shoot in RAW Format

Travel photography usually involves going to an unfamiliar and most likely distant location to explore with your camera. This means that when you leave, there’s a less chance you will be able to return should any had gone wrong with shots you took.

Apart from spending more, you probably may be losing an opportunity to make another trip. For this reason, I recommend capturing your images in RAW format. This format usually allows for edits such as denoising, white balance correction, and basic sharpening or highlights or recovering shadows.

In all these, no details of your image are lost. Compared to the usual JPRGs, Raw files accommodates much more data and allows for more adjustment should you have made a mistake with the exposure or white balance or exposure.

Also, you have control over the noise level removal, which allows you to hide the colored speckling by process low-light images and not lose a lot of detail.


13. Master your Camera Gear


As much as possible, you should avoid buying a new camera before leaving for your trip. The best place you want to practice with your new camera is at home.

Being in an unfamiliar location is usually associated with some form of fluster and pressure. Every new gear usually comes with a learning curve which of course will depend on how complicated the gear is.

The last thing you want is wasting time you should be using for photographing in trying to figure out the various menu systems and how to manipulate the camera features. This can be frustrating and can cause you to miss out on some great photographic moments.

You also want to be at your best and totally composed when shooting. If you must get a new camera, ensure to practice with it and carry it along with the instruction manual when traveling.


14. Consider Shooting in Manual Mode

As a photographer, understanding manual mode is an advantage that helps to improve your skills. A lot of cameras these days come with the ability to operate on auto mode, but getting your desired image is not usually guaranteed.

This is because shooting in auto mode restricts your control over the settings of the camera. You are forced to accept whatever and however your camera captures. But, being in manual mode gives you control over the outcomes of your shot.

You probably already know this, a lot of photographers avoid this mode because of the fear of making mistakes. This shouldn’t be the case because, with practice, you’ll get to be consistent in taking better shots.

Shooting in manual mode teaches you the actual process of how an image is produced, thus giving you a deeper understanding and appreciation of photography.


15. Scouting a Day Before


It’s always a good idea to go on a short scout, on your arrival at your chosen destination. Depending on the destination, this is not usually easy, especially if you don’t have personal transport, but it’s necessary. This will allow you to familiarize yourself with the various spots and locations you will be capturing.

This is also where you get a clear and first-hand idea of the shots you intend to take. You want to be sure that what you heard about the destination is what it really is. You could also discover amazing spots and places you never imagined during your scouting.

Apart from serving a rehearsal for the main deal, it saves you time spent on photographing. The more organized you are the more you tend to get out of your travel photography adventure, and this is one way to achieve that.


16. Get Local Tips

No matter how much research you get before making your trip, sometimes, there’s a limit on how much information you will find about your destination. This is why it is necessary to interact with the locals as this usually gives a perspective that otherwise wouldn’t have been gotten.

A good number of them are usually excited and willing to show off their town. This can even get more interesting if the local is either a photographer too or has some ideas about photography. As being their hometown, you can be sure that they know the best spots for your adventure more than anyone.

You could get lucky enough and discover amazing spots for your adventure that you couldn’t have found on the usual tourist landmark.


17. Be Creative with Angles


For your photography to stand out, your shots need to be different from everyone else. One of the ways to make this happen is to be creative with your angles and make them as interesting as possible.

Asking around for spots that don’t find their way to the travel guides is a great way to get started. Get used to taking a lot of shots and in so doing, experiment with different angles.

Rather than shooting the usual straight-on photos, you can tilt the camera a bit, get down on the ground, or hand on to something or swing to take the shot. Sometimes, you could look crazy doing this, but at the end of the day, you’ll be making a unique and cool shot.


18. Have Fun

Generally, photography is best achieved when you allow your creativity to run wild. This is particularly true when it comes to travel photography. The more fun you have at taking photographs, the more creativity you will see in your shots.

Having fun will also help you with looking at the world creatively. Don’t be so much caught up trying to capture great shots and forget to appreciate things like the flare of the sun rays through palm trees (at the beach).

Note that while having fun at your destination, you want to adhere to the rules and ethics around the place. Always ask for permission where necessary, before going ahead with your photographing.


Final Words On Travel Photography Tips

Travel photography has in today’s digital age climbed the ranks as an essential skill. It is an art that requires tons of practice and patience to be honed. The above tips should get you started, and I hope you find them valuable.

Whether you’re planning a round-the-world adventure, family vacation, or weekend city break, taking the eye-catching shot will become a breeze.

Did you get value from the above-listed photography tips? Would you love to share any photography tips not mentioned in my list? Feel free to use the comment box below.

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Last update on 2021-05-03 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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