10 Top Travel Photography Tips
I have recently been fortunate enough to spend some time traveling to various places in Europe, and thought I would put a few travel photography tips together to help you obtain better photographs when you next travel.
These are the things that I feel are alway useful to me and to pass onto to other photographers before and during their travels.
I am just going to touch on this topic briefly as naturally this is not confined to travel photography.
I have previously written comprehensive posts on aperture, shutter speed, ISO, exposure compensation (and many other topics on the fundamentals of photography. Don’t forget about RAW, composition and framing and other key elements that will help you obtain more creative and compelling images. Try to get the camera off ‘auto’ mode and take control of how you photograph a scene.
This is vital. Before going away, it is a great idea to have a list of the places you are visiting and what images you hope to obtain. Other key information is where to stay, how to get around, weather forecasts, opening hours, tide times if by the ocean and if so inclined to an image search to see what kind of images other photographers are taking. I certainly try to avoid duplicating images taken by others but it can be a useful guide to the style of imagery that is possible at certain locations. Two other useful tips I have found is to have a copy of the local subway map on your phone for convince and to save Google maps for the area you are visiting offline to still have access without incurring any roaming fees.
There is a fine balance between ensuring you have all the gear you need and not weighing yourself down with an overloaded bag. The things are never travel without are spare batteries (fully charged), plenty of memory cards (ensure that they are all clear and formatted before you travel), travel adapter, cleaning cloths, waterproof cover, lens hoods, travel multi-tool and tripod.
Try to take unique photographs
Obviously it is easy when traveling to get overwhelmed with the desire to photograph. Tying in with my earlier heading above – research – you will no doubt have a list of places and images that you want to take. It is often difficult in some destinations to try to obtain images that are different to the multitude of photographs that are taken on a daily basis by others. That said, I do think it is always worth the effort to try to come up with something unique wherever possible and whether that be the angle, lighting, time of day or framing of your image, taking many images of the scene from different vantage points may well result in something more individual and reflective your own photography style.
Photograph the little things
This follows on from the previous heading – Don’t forget to photograph the little elements of an area or scene where you are visiting. Often many people overlook the small details and try to capture the entire view in one frame. However, take time to look around where you are and capture the parts that capture the essence of where you are.
Get up Early and Stay Late – avoid crowds
Sometimes an image requires the human element to add depth or scale or emotion into an image. However, most often hoards of tourists will do very little to help you obtain a compelling image. As such, I always try to get up early and say out late to avoid the multitude of people at certain key sites when traveling. Not only will you sometimes get the location to yourself (or for example in this image of the Louvre Museum in Paris with very few other people), you often get better lighting from the sunrises, sunset or evening city lights.
Be polite, courteous and respectful
It goes without saying that different cultures have differing social norms than what we may perhaps be used to. Don’t forget to try to adapt to these when traveling abroad. Asking permission where necessary and basic politeness will always go so much further with others and often result in a positive response.
Remember to stay safe and be aware of your surroundings. You will inevitably be carrying a lot of expensive gear and it is easy to get so focussed on taking your image that you lose sight of your bag, your environment or what is going on around you. In crowded environments try to carry your backpack so you are not such an easy target for pickpockets and consider using a simple lock for the zippers to prevent them from being too easily opened if you are distracted or unaware.
Finally enjoy yourself
Don’t forget to enjoy yourself and where you are. It is all to easy to become obsessed with getting the perfect image and forgetting to relax a little, explore and immersing yourself whilst traveling is fantastic inspiration for your creativity.