9 Tips for Better Travel Photography

Better Travel Photography

You don’t have to be a professional photographer to take amazing travel pictures. Here are 9 tips that will make you look at the world with new eyes, and impress viewers.

Add Drama: One way to make your pictures more exciting is to add drama to your scene. You can do it by bringing in contrasting colors, for example, bright yellow and vibrant green. You can do it by bringing in objects, which by their nature have a dramatic shape or form. And you can do it by placing objects of extremes next to each other. For example, a person standing next to a giant waterfall.

Get Rid of the Clutter: Clutter in the background can distract from the main subject that you’re trying to capture. So whenever you compose the image, be aware of that background. Unless you’re bringing in clutter for effect, it’s better to keep the background clean. This will draw the eye to the main subject and make the image more aesthetic.

Be Aware of the Corners: Don’t just snap away. Look at the whole composition. And especially at the four corners. So often we get distracted by the main subject that we forget the corners. The corners are important because they add to the overall balance of the photograph.

Be Unique: You want to add some personality to your travel photographs. By that I mean look for unusual angles. Try to move around the subject, testing different points of view. Maybe higher, maybe lower, closer, further away. Spend some time exploring this and you’ll be surprised how much better the photograph can turn out. There is usually one viewpoint that outperforms all others by a large margin, however, it’s usually not immediately apparent. You need to explore.

Capture the Action: If you’re shooting people, don’t just have them line up in front of the camera like a family portrait. Shoot people when they’re involved in doing things and not really aware that you’re there. Try shooting from the hip sometimes, or holding the camera in such a way that people don’t see that you are shooting. You want them to be unaware. Observe their actions and wait for the right moment.

Landmark Warning: Don’t be a tourist. If you’re in Paris, don’t just go snap, snap, snap in front of the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe and Notre Dame. If you have to shoot these landmarks, be original. But to be truly original, avoid the landmarks altogether. The spirit of France is found elsewhere on the streets, in the caf├ęs, in the parks, and in the people living in the city. Challenge yourself to discover the spirit of a place, no matter where you travel.

Tell a Story: Not all pictures have to have a story, but if you make an attempt to bring it out in whatever you’re shooting, that makes for more exciting travel photographs. You want the viewer to feel that the picture is worth more than a thousand words. That it communicates a story. Look at the photographs in National Geographic and you know what I mean. The photographers behind those images are master storytellers. They don’t need a pen, they do it all with the camera. Think about that the next time you travel.

Edit Ruthlessly: Remember, all photographers take bad pictures. But one of the main differences between the good ones and the bad ones is that the former group doesn’t show their bad shots. You’re the editor; therefore you need to be extra tough on yourself. Imagine that you’re about to have a show in a major gallery in New York, and these images are what you’re going to display. That’ll keep you on your toes.

Understand Your Camera: Understanding how your camera works is essential. How to work with depth of field, and how to adjust exposure time and aperture. Most digital cameras have an “automatic” button, which makes it a no-brainer to take a picture. But if you want to take A-rated travel photographs, knowing your camera and digital photography as a subject is essential.