Tips for travel photography

It is the time of year when many people travel and spend the holidays in beautiful and sometimes exotic places. Naturally they want to come back with beautiful photos, even great photos if possible! The good news is it is entirely up to you to do that 🙂 Being persistent and picking the right time to do your photos will be of great help!

Here I have compiled some tips as to how to do that.

1. Pick the right time to take photos

Picking the right time to take photos when you travel will be of utmost importance. I know that getting up early is not what most people plan to do when they are on vacation, but nothing beats that amazing morning light. Waking up early also means you will have to deal with fewer fellow tourist and photographers when picking the best spots for your photos.

Tips for travel photography

Fuji XT-2 and Fuji 56mm F1.2 lens

Photographing before the sunrise or during it will allow you to get photos with beautiful, soft and warm light that will make all the colours in your photos look great.

Don’t like to wake up early? Don’t worry, there is an option for you as well. The hour before sunset (The golden hour) and the hour after it (The blue hour) are great options as well.

In comparison, taking pictures right in the middle on a bright sunny day is probably the worst possible option.

2. Think about the light, composition and framing when taking photos

I personally get very exited when traveling and taking photos. Standing in-front of Taj Mahal, for example, can make you completely forget all photography rules you have so carefully memorised and practised.

Tips for travel photography

Canon 5D Mark III and 16-35 F2.8 II L lens

It’s ok to just snap a few photos to satisfy your desire for immediate results, but then please take your time and explore the scene you are photographing. Try different angles, get low or high, play with the light and composition and don’t forget about the rule of thirds! It’s the simplest and easiest photography rule to implement.

And at the end think about the background in your photos and please keep your horizons levelled 🙂

3. Don’t get too technical

Nothing will kill your desire to take pictures faster than a 15kg camera bag filled with cameras, lenses, filters, tripods and various other photography related tools.

I am a true believer that SIMPLE IS ALWAYS BETTER. Simplify your photography, get one camera and one lens and forget the rest. Don’t waste your precious travel time fiddling with tools and settings instead of taking photos. Just put your camera in Aperture priority mode and use the exposure compensation to get the desired look.

Nothing says that better than this advert from a few years ago by Canon:

4. Try telling stories with your photos

Remember that when you are taking a photo, you have all the background and surrounding knowledge of your trip in your mind. When you enjoy your images later, all of that will come back to you and will help you enjoy your photos.

Other viewers will not have that advantage. For them the picture of a mountain is just that a picture of mountain. They’ve already seen hundreds. They won’t know about your strenuous trek to get there, the harsh weather, the energy and the sweat you spent climbing etc.. As photographers we are often told that a photograph is worth a thousand words. It’s your job to convey those words.

How do you do that? Well, use all the tool you have in your photography kit – proper framing, colour, light. Put yourself in your viewers shoes – what will help you get the story while looking at the photos?

Look at this photo for example:

Tips for travel photography

Fuji XT-2 and Fuji 23mm F1.4 lens

We were visiting a friend in Malta and this photo was taken on an afternoon we decided to explore the Citadel of Gozo. I wanted to take a nice photo of mu daughter having fun and running around, but I also wanted to show the beautiful city around us and the gorgeous weather and light at that moment. Focusing just on the girl would have completely removed all that information from the photo.

Here’s another example:

Tips for travel photography

Canon 5D Mark III and Sigma 85mm F1.4 lens

I was traveling in India a few years ago and visited the desert city of Jaisalmer in Rajasthan. I went on a desert safari to enjoy the sunset and wanted to come with a few memorable photos. The desert was vast and I really wanted to convey that, so I decided to include one of my fellow travellers (for size comparison) in the shot and to use the sky as a huge negative space. If I decided to just make a photo of the sand dunes from up close, I wouldn’t have had all that info.

Last but not least – don’t be lazy, go out and take as many photos as you can! The more photos you take, the more you will learn how to compose and capture great images.

Do you want to learn more? Please attend of of my workshops! You can subscribe here: “The everything you need to know photography workshop in Brussels“.