My Top Travel Photography Tips
Most people when they travel want to capture the essence of their destinations with photography. The desire to record the sights and feelings experienced while is often strong and therefore it can be incredibly disappointing to return home and not be happy with your photographs.
I’ve set out below my top photography tips to help you achieve better images during your travels.
I am just touching on this topic briefly as this is not relative to just travel photography. Make sure you know how to use your camera and try to avoid ‘auto’ mode so you can learn to be more creative with your imagery.
If you need refreshers on the fundamentals of photography, I previously published comprehensive posts on aperture, shutter speed, ISO, exposure compensation (and many other topics – just click on the links to see these posts).
Don’t forget about basic photography composition and framing techniques that will help you obtain more creative and compelling images.
This is vital. Before going away, it is a great idea to have a list of the places you want to visit 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 do an image search to see what kind of images other photographers have taken. I 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/transportation map on your phone for convenience and to save Google maps for the area offline so you still have access without incurring roaming fees.
There is a fine balance between ensuring you have all the gear you need and not weighing yourself down with an overloaded, heavy bag. The things to never travel without are fully charged spare batteries, extra formatted memory cards, travel adapter(s), cleaning cloths, a waterproof cover, lens hoods, a travel multi-tool and a tripod.
Take Unique Shots
Obviously it is easy when traveling to get overwhelmed with the desire to photograph everything. Tying in with my earlier heading above, Research Location, you will no doubt have a list of places and images that you want to take. It is often difficult to shoot images that are different to the multitude of photographs 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. Whether it is 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
In addition to unique shots, don’t forget to photograph the little elements of an area or scene where you are visiting. Often people overlook the details and try to capture the entire view in one frame. Take time to look around where you are and capture the parts that encompass the essence of where you are.
Avoid Crowds: Get up Early and Stay Late
Sometimes a photograph requires the human element to add depth, 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 at least with very few other people), you often have better lighting from the sunrise, 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 be used to. Don’t forget to try to adapt to these when traveling abroad. Asking permission where necessary and basic courtesy 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 focused on getting your images 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 too easy to become obsessed with getting the perfect image and forgetting to relax a little. Exploring and immersing yourself whilst traveling is fantastic inspiration for your creativity.