Have you taken a look at your old travel photos lately and discovered they all looked the same? The same family poses in front of skylines, the typical silhouette sunset shots, holding iconic monuments and all the exact same thing as everybody else? Let’s spice them up a bit with these easy travel photography tips that make all the difference.
Travel Photography Tip #1: Get into Position
Are you guilty of staged travel photos? You know the ones where you stand stock still with a fake smile. Why not make it look as if you captured an in the moment shot? Walk a bit and then turn around, maybe twirl, maybe just smile at the photographer look up at something, move around, point and interact without talking.
At the very least place one foot in front of the other and make use of your arms to not just leave them hanging, push your hips and shoulders back and your chest out to ooze confidence and a model look. Turn a little and don’t face the camera frontal. Basically, treat the camera like a friend and see what happens. Don’t be afraid of taking multiple shots, after all that’s the brilliance of digital cameras. You can take as many as you want and later select the best.
Travel Photography Tip #2: Be Considerate
Do you know why the selfie stick gets such a bad rep and is even banned in some places? Because it has been misused as a vehicle for vanity and self obsession. Taking travel photos is not just about [email protected] It is perfectly fine if you are a traveller with a love for selfies or don’t want to rely on others to take photos for you (which always turn out bad in my experience).
But do not use it absolutely everywhere to get ahead of other people, to raise it up in the air and ruin other people’s shots and get into people’s faces. It’s not fun. The same thing goes with the ipad photo trend. Do not stand in front of popular buildings and take your sweet time for your portraits when a huge crowd is waiting or start pulling out your phone and swiping back and forth to take some more photos for another 10 minutes. Come all set, get the shot done and give others their turn.
Travel Photography Tip #3: The Photo Composition
Do you take photos where the subject is placed perfectly in the middle? The landmark is there, your family in front of it or maybe you are holding the Pisa tower? Been there done that and so has everybody else. Add some more perspectives to your portfolio.
My favourite of all these travel photography tips is to try and implement the Rule of Thirds, which means that you should mentally divide your picture into threes and place your focus on either line of the outer divides. If you position the subject in the middle why not make it look super small and put it in the lower third of your composition? Try to bend down and shot from a very low angle to create a sense of looking up or standing on an elevation and shooting down? Play with perspective and see how it changes the picture!
Travel Photography Tip #4: Tell a Story
I love it when I take serial shots and later, when I browse through them, they act like the booklets that become animated when you flip through them. It’s silly, I know but hilarious to watch. And if you stretch that thought even further, why not create a little comic strip out of it? Even if you want to create less creative photos, you can try to capture a story or mood within one shot.
Besides the ordinary sights, why not capture special moments you live through? They might be a breathtaking view with your travel buddy looking all small in comparison to an epic skyline or a group of people you have just met in the middle of their lively conversation? Something personal that serves as a reminder of magic moments you experienced.
Travel Photography Tip #5: Work with Your Surrounding
Sure, why not hold the Pisa tower or play with dimensions and “hold” something that is standing way back in the palm of your hand. But think beyond that and get creative with your travel photography. You can pretend to walk into a picture, take silly jumps, try to lift things, take cute couple pictures, stand together and make a pyramid, the list is endless. Perspective matters and using what you have cleverly is a great tool for your travel photography.
And another thing is your reaction to it. You don’t need to smile your brightest toothpaste ad smile. Sometimes you can just smirk, look away coyly or just gaze in admiration. And one more thing, don’t ever smile at war memorials. I just cannot wrap my head around what goes on in people’s heads when they do. It is a memory of a very sad and tragic thing and a smile is nothing that should be the reaction to this.
Travel Photography Tip #6: Use Accessories
They might be part of your surrounding or you might come with them. How about fashionable statement pieces? A hat or scarf are super versatile. You can take great shots regardless of bad hair days, you can have them blown in the wind, you can unwrap them or hold them. It helps keep your hands busy and add an air of elegance.
Another one of my travel photography tips is to play with your necklace, cufflinks, rings or other jewellery. If you want to try something different, you can play with the focus and blur out the rest. This means you can still be in the picture but the photos has a completely different topic, such as a statue or glass of wine on a verandah. This way, the moment is captured far more differently than if you were just shot sitting there.
Travel Photography Tip #7: Use Filters
There are different ways to change the colours and shadings of your photos to change the atmosphere or create an artsy feeling. For one, you could change the white balance and settings on the colour grid to pull out more orange tones or manipulate the tones and set it to lighter tones and a more open aperture to let more light in and create a very bright image.
Another option is photoshop to later edit and completely alter your image. An easy third option is screwing on a polarising filter onto your lens and tweak it depending on how dark you want the sky to appear and the clouds to pop. Just make sure your camera is actually capable of having one screwed on.
Travel Photography Tip #8: Clear Communication
Solo travellers like me often face the problem of needing their travel photos taken but can’t find a place to put their self-timed camera on or feel unsafe just putting it down. A solution is to travel with a travel buddy, use a selfie stick or to ask a stranger (strangers are not as dangerous as you think). If you decided on a trustworthy looking fellar, you still might be fooled by the Nikon around their necks that suggests they know what they are doing and you might end up with cut off feet, hair or zoomed in nose shots.
Time and again I have seen the most ridiculous photos of me and so I started to give minute instructions as to what I want. From pointing out my position on the grid to stating to exclude the railings and include more sky and over to prohibiting the use of the zoom function entirely, I have tried everything. I recommend you do the same and then let me know if it works for you. I still end up with odd looking photos that are completely different to what I explained.
Travel Photography Tip #9: Edit Your Travel Photos
So far, all these were travel photography tips to help create better photos. Once you do actually have them, don’t just take them as they are. You can make them even better. My number one with my travel photography tips is photoshop editing (you can also use the regular editing function with your windows photo preview instead). Bring out the colours with saturation, adjust the lighting and cut the frame to focus on a specific object.
Travel photography tips on editing in photoshop are an entirely different chapter, however, so I just leave you with this quick introduction. Check out my friend Ashlea’s post on photoshop for a headstart.
If you are keen on updating your photography game, here are some hand-picked cameras and gear. The images lead to affiliate links which comes at no additional cost to you but will help bring more content to this blog with a small commission.
Despite all these travel photography tips, the one thing to remember is to have fun, don’t stress over the details and take the photos the way you want to. There is no need to try to be a professional and be glued to your camera and miss out on actually experiencing your travels. Studies have shown that the less you take photos, the more you actually remember. And I can agree with this from my own experience.