Travel Photography is one of the most popular genre in photography. In order to get the best travel photos you desire it requires a lot of planning, good skills, etc. That is why I decided to share with you “15 Amazing Tips For Travel Photography Every Traveller Should Know”. Whether you are a traveller without any photography knowledge or you are a beginner travel photographer who is looking to learn and upgrade photgraphy skills, you have came to the right place.
In this article you will get to learn and find information about several important things you need to consider for getting better at travel photography. Make sure you read this article till the end as I will be providing you with two bonus tips. Before we get into out main topic of this article, let’s first take a look at short definition and explanation about travel photography.
What Is Travel Photography?
Wikipedia says that, Travel photography is a genre of photography that may involve the documentation of an area’s landscape, people, cultures, customs, and history. The Photographic Society of America defines a travel photo as an image that expresses the feeling of a time and place, portrays a land, its people, or a culture in its natural state, and has no geographical limitations.
Many travel photographers specialize in a particular aspect of photography such as travel portraits, landscape or documentary photography as well as shooting all aspects of travel. Regardless of what your style of travel photography is, these 15 amazing tips will help you get better at it.
Now enough of this introductions, let’s dive into our main topic of this article:
15 Amazing Tips For Travel Photography Every Travel Photographer Should Know
Here is a quick look ate these 15 Amazing Tips For Travel Photography:
- Scout Your Location Before Your Trip
- Wake Up Early And Stay Out Late
- Always Plan Your Shots
- Ask Permission From Locals For Portraits
- Consider Using Light Weight Tripod
- Always Travel Light (Things In Your Travel Camera Backpack)
- Learn And Get Better At Composition
- Keep Moving Around And Take Multiple Photos
- Learn And Get Better At Post-processing
- Never Stop Learning
- Always Backup Your Travel Photos
- Shoot In Raw (If Possible)
- Always Have Patience
- Always Carry Extra Spare Batteries
- Never Forget To Enjoy And Have Fun
- Bonus Tips
1. Scout Your Location Before Your Trip
Even before you reach your destination always learn about the place you are travelling to. Read travel guidebooks about your destination. Scour the internet for articles and blog posts to help give you ideas for photos. Talk to someone you know who have been there if possible. Reach out to other photographers. Become more knowledgeable about which images will capture the essence of a place.
You should know the rules and every culture of your destination beforehand as it will help you get ideas of what kind of photos to expect. You can search on social media platforms such as instagram, pinterest, etc; You can also search on search engine sites such as google images. You can use them to learn where iconic locations are so that you will be able to create your “shot list”.
This is because once you figure out the names of potential photo locations, you will be able to do more research on those locations such as, Which time of day has the best light? How difficult is it to reach certain vantage points? What time does an attraction open, and when will tourist traffic be low? What will the weather be like?
Being well prepared with research beforehand saves time so you can fully commit to producing amazing travel photography once you’re there, and maximize your time.
2. Wake Up Early And Stay Out Late
This is an important tip you need to remember if you want to make the most of your trip. Waking up early means you’ll have to deal with fewer tourists and other photographers. Want an epic postcard shot of a famous landmark like the ruins of Great Wall Of China or the Taj Mahal? Just get there early right when it opens and you’ll pretty much have the place to yourself.
You should take a rest during the middle of the day so you would have more energy for early morning and evening photography missions when the light is best. As you probably know, the Golden hours and Blue Hours are considered the best time for Travel Landscapes. Make sure you don’t just shoot only in golden hours or blue hours, you should also consider capturing the night life.
3. Always Plan Your Shots
Now that you have already marked the locations you would be visiting during your travel trip and also found out the best time for you to shoot a particular location, it is time that you should plan your shots. Before you arrive in your tourist destinations, spend a few hours planning out your shot list of images you want to photograph. You can get inspiration from Instagram, Google Maps, travel guides, magazines and more.
Doing this will help you nail the shots you want to go, and give you more purpose and direction. You need to know that all of the best photographers use tools like Google Maps or social media to form a shot list, and you should get used to it too. This social media platforms, apps or tools whatever you want to call it are very useful as long as you know how to use it to your advantage and the best part about these things is that they are free!
4. Ask Permission From Locals For Portraits
Travel photography is not just about great landscapes, it is also about the culture of the destination you are going to. Portraits are the best way to connect with people from different cultures from different locations through photography. So, make sure you ask permission from locals before you take their portraits.
You just have to go and ask them, be bold! The worst thing that would happen is that they will say “no”. It’s not like that “no” is going to ruin your trip. In fact, getting rejected will actually help you get better at asking permission, it will just get easier and easier. Also, usually people are excited to get photographed by a foreigner in many countries, it’s not always the case but it happens.
5. Consider Using Light Weight Tripod
A tripod allows you to set your camera position and keep it there. With the camera fixed, you can then take your time arranging the perfect composition. You can also adjust exposure settings, focus points, and really spend time paying attention to the image you want to create you will be also able to use advanced techniques like HDR, focus stacking, and panoramas by the help of a tripod. Tripods give you the ability to shoot much slower shutter speeds (long exposure, motion blur, etc.) without worrying about hand-held camera shake. You can keep your ISO low (for less sensor noise) and use smaller apertures, so more of the image is in focus.
Just make sure you use a light weight tripod which is travel friendly. If your tripod is too heavy you might get tired carrying it around halfway through your trip and in that process you might loose some great moments for your travel photography just because you where too tired to click the photo. Talking about light weight tripod makes me come to our next and one of the most important tip:
6. Always Travel Light (Things In Your Travel Camera Backpack)
It is the same as the above tip, you should make sure you travel light. You should only have necessary things in your travel camera backpack. The only necessary things in your travel camera backpack I would recommend are a compact light weight mirrorless camera such as Sony A6600, Sony A6400, Canon M50 (or M50 Mark II), etc; as mentioned above a light weight tripod, if you use zoom lenses consider carrying only two zooms which will cover different focal lengths you desire to take a photo on and if you use prime lenses you should consider using a 35mm, 50mm (highly recommended), 85mm focal length lenses according to your photography needs.
The only extra accessories I would recommend is lens filters such as UV Lens Filter, Circular Polarizing Filter and ND Filters. Lens filters are not necessary it’s just that it can help you take great pictures by just adding a piece of glass to your lens but still at the end of the day it’s your photography skills is what determines how good or bad your image will turn out.
If you consider using lens filters make sure it is of good quality as poor quality filters can introduce a lot of glares and ghosting. You should buy from good brands, for example: Kodak Variable ND Filters, AmazonBasics UV Filter, AmazonBasics Circular Polarizing Filters. You all probably know that Kodak is a go to company for any photography equipments and I have read a lot of good reviews about AmazonBasics lens filters.
7. Learn And Get Better At Composition
Not just travel photography but photography in general composition is one of the absolutely key elements of any good image. In simple words, it is important to have a good composition in your photo. If your photos, do not have good composition, then they are just not good photos, it is as simple as that.
Composition can be hard to wrap your head around, plus it includes lots of confusing rules and terms. That is why it is important to learn and get better at composition. This is also because composition is the language that you, the photographer, can use to communicate with the viewer. It is also important to experiment with different composition and sometimes just break the rules of composition to get creative and for artistic purpose.
8. Keep Moving Around And Take Multiple Photos
This is an important tip to remember especially if you are new to travel photography. Don’t just stand at one place and take photos, you have to move around your feet to take different perspective, angles and compositions. If you take several photos standing still on same place there won’t be any difference in those photos. That is why you have to move around to find different angles and perspective.
This is the number one mistake a beginner travel photographer tends to make. By moving around you will be able to find the best view you would want to capture. Go closer, move back, step to the side, consider your lens’ focal length, etc. Imagine trying to take that iconic Taj Mahal photo, only to find out later that you were 2m to the left of centre, throwing off that perfect symmetry.
Take multiple travel photos from multiple different perspective, compositions, etc. and fill up those memory cards from the same photo locations so you have lots of options when you get home to see which is your favourite. Taking extra photos and failing is better than going home and regretting later if “I would have taken that shot?” because you might not know when you will go back to that place or maybe it was once in a lifetime oppurtinity.
9. Learn And Get Better At Post-processing
Cameras do not respond the same as a human eye does to light and colors. That is why it is important to learn and get better at post-processing (editing). It is a myth that, “editing your photos is cheating”. In fact, 99% of your favourite travel magazine photos, travel photos by a professional travel photographer, etc. have been edited to some degree. If you really want to get the most out of your travel photography, you should start playing around with post processing.
You don’t have to be a professional photo editor. Simple basics is more than enough for the start which will help you correct the exposure and color correct as well as color grade your photos. Important thing to remember in post-processing especially if you are a beginner is that color correct and color grade are two different things, always keep that it mind.
10. Never Stop Learning
Not just travel photography but photography in general, if you think that you have mastered and learned everything about photography, here is a harsh truth “you are very very very very wrong!” Even professional photographers with 20 or 25 plus years of experience still keeps learning. This is because there is always something new coming up every other day in this world of photography. Also, you shouldn’t just learn new things you should also learn from your own past mistakes.
You should go out and practice, attend photography workshops, watch tutorials on youtube, read articles on photography websites on a regular basis. You just have to go out and challenge yourself, this is how you become a better photographer.
11. Always Backup Your Travel Photos
You never know you might visit the same place again and for some people some destinations are once in a lifetime opportunity. There are many more reasons I could name but this is one of the most common reason that is why it is very important to always have a backup of your travel photos. Save those photos in at least 2 to 3 storage devices for example: your mobile phone, cloud storage, your laptop and external hard drive (if available at the moment)., etc. You do not want to loose any photos because those are your special memories you carry back with you.
12. Shoot In Raw (If Possible)
If you have any mordern DSLR or a Mirrorless Camera, you probably have RAW file format as an option. Usually every camera captures at JPEG format but if you have RAW option available to you I would highly recommend using it.
The reason is; you can say that a JPEG file format is basically a comperessed file format to save space and in the process of compression there is less image data whereas you could say that a RAW file format is an uncompressed file format and has more image data than a JPEG file format. So, if you heavily color grade or edit your photos shooting in RAW is very important. If you do a lot of editing on a JPEG image you might loose a lot of image quality whereas you might loose little to no image quality on a RAW image.
13. Always Have Patience
Matthew Karsten from Expert Vagabond explains it well, he says: “Photography is about really seeing what’s in front of you. Not just with your eyes, but with your heart & mind too. This requires dedicated time and attention. Slow down and make a conscious effort at becoming aware of your surroundings before pressing the shutter”.
I totally agree with him because if you don’t have patience and always be in hurry, you are totally going to miss some great opportunities and very important and special moments you could have captured for your travel photograph. Also, always make sure you pay attention to details.
14. Always Carry Extra Spare Batteries
You never know how long you are going to have to wait for that one perfect shot or multiple shots you desired. You do not want to miss anything just because your camera battery is low or completely drained. That is why it is very important for you to always have an extra set of batteries.
One important tip to remember for carrying extra batteries on flights is that you will have to seal the batteries with something such as wrapping it in a tape and putting it in a secure case so that it would not leak. If you don’t do that, you would not be able to allowed to take those batteries with you on your flight. So, make sure you read the rules and guidelines of your respective flights, countries and destinations for carrying a battery.
15. Never Forget To Enjoy And Have Fun
This travel trip is probably your vacation, after all. Don’t take things too seriously to the point where you forget that this is supposed to be a vacation and you should always have fun on your trips. If not than what is the purpose of your trip. You can still be on a business trip and still enjoy it. Only choose travel photography if it actually makes you happy. This is because if you are enjoying every moment of it, it eventually becomes a part of your life that you never want to stop doing.
Now, as promissed at the beginning of this article here are two bonus tips for you just to appreciate for spending your precious time in reading my article this far:
2 Bonus Tips:
- High End Professional Camera Is Not Necessary
- Don’t Get Obsessed Over Photography Equipments
1. High End Professional Camera Is Not Necessary
You really do not need a very high end professional expensive camera for your travel photography. You can just use your phone to do travel photography. As long as you have skills, it really doesn’t matter what camera you are using. In fact, nowadays mobile camera are getting better everyday and are very capable of taking a high quality professional looking photos. Make sure that not having a high end camera be your reason to not do travel photography. You can easily take good quality photos in your smartphone also.
2. Don’t Get Obsessed Over Photography Equipments
This is also same as the above bonus tip. You shouldn’t get obsessed over photography equipments and accessories. As mentioned in the above #tip 6, it’s not the high end equipments and accesories makes you a better photographer it is your skills that makes you a better photographer. You should depend on your skills rather than depending on your equipments.
Just like anything, becoming a great travel photographer takes time, and a lot of practice. The only way you can get better is by getting out there taking travel photos. You don’t even need to have the most expensive camera and gears. Buy whatever you can afford or don’t buy at all just use your smartphone it doesn’t matter, just go for a walk around your city and snap away and get better at your photography skills. This will ultimately help you to not miss any great moments to capture while you travel.
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