Are you looking to take your travel photography skills up a notch? If so, you’ll want to read on for some pro tips straight from the experts. Here are proven techniques that will help you take stunning images on your next trip.
Although we all have the memories of a trip locked away inside our minds, over time those memories inevitably begin to fade. That’s what makes the use of photographs, souvenirs, and other items picked up during a journey so special! They help us to remember the wonderful times that we had with family, with friends, or even if we took the trip by ourselves.
When it comes to photographs, it is very true that any person can take a professional quality image with today’s digital cameras and have them stored, printed, mounted, or even placed on canvas as a wonderful reminder of a journey well taken.
This article will cover the basics of what makes a good travel photograph, and why learning how to take incredible images is important for travel photographers.
According to National Geographic, travel photography is a $2.3 billion industry, and with good reason – as travel becomes more popular, people are looking for beautiful images to capture their memories with.
Learning how to take stunning travel photos will not only improve the quality of your images but can also lead to a rewarding career.
Table of Contents
- Top Travel Photography Tips
- 1. Find the right light
- 2. Use a tripod
- 3. Get close to your subject
- 4. Be Patient
- 5. Experiment with different compositions
- 6. Use a polarizing filter
- 7. Shoot in RAW format
- 8. Edit your photos
- 8. Use a filter
- 9. Use the Rule of Thirds
- 10. Shoot in burst mode
- 11. Explore Places Where Others Dare Not Go
- 12. Don’t Be Afraid of Black & White
- 13. Add Some Fill Light, Even During the Day
- 14. Backup your travel photography
- 15. Don’t obsess over camera equipment
- 16. Never stop learning
- 17. Have fun!
- What are some common mistakes people make when taking travel photos?
- Not doing enough research before their trip
- Not packing the right gear
- Relying too much on technology
- Failing to back up photos
- Relying too heavily on post-processing
- What are some post-processing tips for travel photos?
- Start with a basic edit to adjust things like exposure, white balance, and contrast
- Pay attention to detail, and don’t be afraid to spend time on small tweaks
- When in doubt, less is more – don’t overdo it with the post-processing
- Experiment with different creative techniques such as HDR or black and white conversion
- Final Thoughts
- How do I make my travel photos stand out?
- What is the best time of day to take travel photos?
- What camera gear do I need for travel photography?
Top Travel Photography Tips
Here are several travel photography tips to help you take stunning travel photography with every click of your camera.
1. Find the right light
Finding the right light is essential for taking amazing photos for a few reasons. It’s simply the best travel photography tip that anyone will tell you. Lighting is everything to capture the perfect shot.
First, the best time to take pictures is early in the morning or late in the evening when the sun casts a soft, warm light. This type of light creates beautiful, natural-looking images.
Second, midday is generally not a good time to take pictures because the sun is so high in the sky that it creates harsh shadows.
And lastly, taking pictures in low light can be challenging, but the results are often worth it. Low light photography requires a bit of practice and patience but can lead to the perfect shot.
See Related: Best Day to Book Flights
2. Use a tripod
Using a tripod will help you get sharper images, and will also allow you to experiment with different compositions. If you don’t have a tripod, look for something sturdy to lean your camera on, like a wall or a tree.
With our family of 6, taking a photograph together has always been difficult. It usually entailed getting 5 people into the image with the sixth person [me] taking the photograph.
That’s when I decided that investing in a cheap tripod that I could take with me anywhere was a good idea. With the automatic settings in place, I could simply set the camera to a 10-second delay and we could all be in a photograph together!
Seems like common sense, right? Except when was the last time you took a tripod with you to capture images at the beach?
Or to capture memories as you adventure forth into the unknown? The average person puts their camera around their neck, maybe utilizes the stabilization feature on the camera if they have one, and then calls it good.
You can certainly get decent photographs that way, but stunning travel photos come with a tripod because you have more flexibility to utilize the manual settings on your camera.
That allows you to bring movement, prolonged light exposure, and other nuances to an image that you normally wouldn’t get.
3. Get close to your subject
One of the best ways to take amazing travel photography is to get close to your subject. This will help you capture more detail and emotion in your images.
Think about what you want to capture in your photo, and get as close as you can while still including everything you want in the frame. If you’re captures a person or animal, get close enough that you can see their individual features.
For landscape photography, get close enough that you can see the texture of the rocks or the leaves on the trees. By getting close to your subject, you’ll be able to take truly stunning photos that will make your friends and family jealous.
So don’t be afraid to get up close and personal with your camera – it’s the best way to take amazing travel photography!
4. Be Patient
One of the most difficult aspects of taking stunning photos is that you’ve often got to wait for it. Whether it is a sunrise, a sunset, or you just want to make that waterfall that is right in front of you look like cotton candy, it is quite rare for the perfect image to be taken the first time around.
A great photographer knows that you need to be there when no one else is to make the image stand out from the crowd.
Give yourself plenty of time to enjoy the area where you want to take pictures, keep an eye out for something special to happen, and undoubtedly something special will happen!
So often we hurry to each place on our itinerary and just snap a few photos as we go.
That can help us remember a hurried trip and sometimes a stunning image can come from that, but to consistently take stunning, memorable images of your travel adventures, an increase in patience must be had.
It is for this reason our family often packs a picnic lunch, a change of clothes for the toddlers, and plenty of juice packs and extra drinks. With just a little extra time, that great image always comes on!
5. Experiment with different compositions
Traveling gives us a unique opportunity to experiment with different compositions in our photos. One way to add interest is to frame your subject with a doorway or window. This can help to create a sense of depth and perspective, and can also be used to highlight the architecture of a region.
Another composition technique is to include leading lines to capture a better photo. Leading lines can help to direct the viewer’s eye towards your subject, and can also be used to create a sense of movement or flow.
By experimenting with different compositions, you can add interest and variety to your travel photos.
See Related: Best Places to Take Pictures in Minneapolis
6. Use a polarizing filter
A polarizing filter can help reduce glare and increase the saturation of colors in your travel pictures. If you’re shooting near water, a polarizing filter can also help reduce the reflection of the sun on the surface of the water. Polarizing filters are particularly useful for landscape photography and nature photography.
If you’re traveling and looking to add a bit of flair to your photos, consider using one of the many creative effects filters available. These types of filters can add color, texture, or pattern to your photos.
Experiment with different filters to see what effect they have on your photos and make your travel photography stand out from the rest.
7. Shoot in RAW format
Any photographer will tell you that one of the most important things you can do is to shoot in RAW format.
RAW files are larger and take up more space on your memory card, but they contain all of the data captured by your camera’s sensor.
This data includes not only the color and brightness information but also things like the camera’s exposure settings and white balance.
When you edit a RAW file, you have access to all of this information and can make subtle changes that can significantly improve the final image.
So if your camera has the option to shoot in RAW format, be sure to take advantage of it. You’ll be glad you did when you’re editing your RAW files later on.
8. Edit your photos
As a traveler, you likely take hundreds of photos on each trip. Unfortunately, not all of these photos will be amazing. But don’t worry – with a little bit of editing, you can bring out the best in your photos and turn them into masterpieces.
Even simple edits like adjusting the exposure or white balance can make a big difference. If you’re not sure how to edit your photos, there are plenty of tutorials and online resources to help you get started.
With a little bit of practice, you’ll be surprised at how quickly you can improve you skills as a travel photographer.
So next time you’re looking at a lackluster photo, remember that with some editing, it can be transformed into something special.
8. Use a filter
Adding a filter to your travel camera can help give your photo a unique look. Filters can also be helpful if you’re trying to capture a long exposure or reduce the amount of light passing through the lens.
There are a variety of filters available, such as ND (neutral density) filters, which can help reduce the amount of light passing through the lens. This can be helpful if you’re shooting in bright conditions or trying to capture a long exposure.
9. Use the Rule of Thirds
If you’re a traveler, then you know that the Rule of Thirds is essential for taking better photos. For those who don’t know, the Rule of Thirds is a principle that suggests dividing images into 9 equal squares.
The goal is to place your subject or interest on one of the squares or lines. This simple technique can make a big difference in the quality of your photos.
Most modern cameras have a Rule of Thirds function built into their displays, so it’s easy to use. The next time you’re out taking photos, try using the Rule of Thirds and see how it improves your ability to capture great shots.
10. Shoot in burst mode
Burst mode is a great way to capture multiple photos in quick succession. This can be helpful if you’re trying to capture a fast-moving subject, or if you want to choose the best photo from a series of shots.
To shoot in burst mode, simply hold down the shutter button on your camera. The travel camera will continue to take photos as long as you keep the button pressed down.
When you’re finished, release the button and review your photos. You can then choose the best one to keep and delete the rest.
Burst mode is a great way to ensure that you never miss a shot. So next time you’re out taking travel photography, be sure to give it a try.
On a recent trip to San Francisco, we fought with the crowds to go down Lombard Street. We fought with the crowds to go see the sea lions by the piers.
We even had to fight with the crowds to get a decent image of Alcatraz Island, deciding to eat lunch with a window view to get it because the crowd level was nine deep!
Iconic images can represent a journey, but what creates wonderful memories is a sense of adventure. Dare to explore places where other tourists may not consider going!
Whether you like getting dirty from an adventurous hike or you’ve discovered a hole-in-the-wall restaurant that no one else even knows about because it isn’t on Yelp yet, your sense of adventure will lend itself to automatic opportunities for stunning travel images.
Find a place where the road is less traveled, see what you might find in that journey, and your worst-case scenario is that you’ll have images that remind you of a quiet, peaceful time spent exploring on your own or with a loved one.
With just a flick of a menu button, the images on my camera can transform from chromatic color to black and white. Some of our greatest moments are captured in this photography medium that is, unfortunately, falling by the wayside.
The contrast and depth of color can still be seen in these images with stunning detail, with shadows and contrasts emphasized more than they would be otherwise.
The trick to capturing a good black & white image is to have great lighting that can emphasize something specific within the photo.
This creates the contrast that you need naturally so you don’t have to spend tons of time trying to photoshop the image to make it look good!
Over time, I’ve just developed the habit of using the flash on my camera on a consistent basis, no matter how sunny or cloudy the day might be. Why?
Because it adds a level of fill light into the image and this helps to decrease cumbersome shadows that might appear.
Now obviously if there is plenty of light and no real shadows being cast, disabling the flash function or detaching the flash [if you’re still old school] is obviously going to create a better stunning travel photo.
Don’t underestimate the power of what the flash can do, however, even when the sun is shining down on you!
14. Backup your travel photography
Traveling is one of the best ways to explore new cultures and create memories that will last a lifetime. However, even the most well-planned trip can go awry. In order to protect your precious vacation photos, it is essential to have a robust backup plan in place.
Ideally, you should have both physical and online backups of your files. An external hard drive is a good option for physical storage, and many cloud-based solutions are available for online backup.
Google Photos is a popular choice, but there are many others to choose from. Whichever method you choose, make sure that your backups are regular and reliable. That way, even if something does go wrong on your trip, your photos will be safe.
15. Don’t obsess over camera equipment
When it comes to traveling, don’t obsess over your camera gear and equipment. Yes, it’s important to have a good camera, but don’t let that stop you from enjoying your trip. A good travel photographer can make do with any kind of camera, as long as they have the knowledge, experience, and creativity.
So don’t worry if you don’t have the latest and greatest DSLR camera. Just enjoy your trip, and take pictures along the way. Who knows? You might just capture some amazing moments that you’ll never forget.
16. Never stop learning
If you want to continue learning travel photography, the best way to improve is by taking online courses, attending workshops, and making regular training sessions. This will help you to not only use Instagram filters and advanced travel photography gear, but also understand the history and landscape behind your photos.
Additionally, portraits with strangers and wildlife photography are difficult but interesting areas to continue learning about your photography skills. However, by completing free online courses, you can get a leg up on understanding these concepts.
So, whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned photographer, continue learning about travel photography to take your skills to the next level.
17. Have fun!
One of the best things about travel photography is that it’s all about having fun and experimenting. Get out there and start exploring – you never know what you’ll find. Of course, there are a few basics that you should keep in mind.
First, always have your camera with you, and make sure it’s charged and ready to go. Second, take advantage of natural light whenever possible.
And finally, don’t be afraid to experiment – try different angles and compositions, and don’t be afraid to get creative. The most amazing travel photography are often the ones that are unexpected. So have fun with it, and see where your camera takes you.
What are some common mistakes people make when taking travel photos?
Some common mistakes people make when taking travel pho include:
Not doing enough research before their trip
Not sure to plan can result in problems when taking travel photographs. Make sure you know where you’re going and what kind of pictures you want to take before your trip.
Not packing the right gear
Make sure you pack the right gear for your trip. If you’re planning on taking a lot of pictures, make sure you have enough storage space and batteries. And if you’re traveling to a remote location, make sure you have a backup plan in case your equipment fails.
Relying too much on technology
While technology can be a great help when taking travel photography, don’t rely on it too much. Be prepared to take pictures without relying on your camera’s auto-focus or other features.
You don’t need a full manual mode or manual shutter speed but at the same time you don’t need to solely rely on auto-mode. Check your camera’s settings for a blend of both.
Failing to back up photos
Make sure to back up your photos before and during your trip. That way, if something happens to your camera, you won’t lose all your pictures.
Relying too heavily on post-processing
Don’t get too caught up in post-processing your photos. It’s important to get the composition and exposure right in-camera during golden hours and have a great starting point, and then you can worry about fine-tuning the details in editing and processing your images.
What are some post-processing tips for travel photos?
Here are a few general post-processing tips for travel photography.
Start with a basic edit to adjust things like exposure, white balance, and contrast
When you’re taking photos while traveling, it’s important to make sure they look their best. One way to do this is by starting with a basic edit in photo editing software like Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Lightroom.
This will help adjust things like exposure, white balance, and contrast to make your photos look more polished and professional.
Pay attention to detail, and don’t be afraid to spend time on small tweaks
When it comes to editing your travel photos, details are key. Make sure to spend time on small tweaks, like adjusting the brightness, contrast and saturation of different parts of the photo. This can really make a difference in the overall look and feel of the image.
Also, be sure to focus on cropping and framing your photos correctly. This can be especially important when photographing landmarks or other iconic scenes. Taking the time to get the composition just right can make all the difference in the final image.
Lastly, don’t forget about basic adjustments like sharpening and noise reduction. These can help make your photos look their best.
When in doubt, less is more – don’t overdo it with the post-processing
When it comes to photography, one of the golden rules is to do less is more. This is especially true when it comes to post-processing your photos. It’s easy to go overboard and overdo it, but this will only end up making your photos look worse instead of better.
So try to keep your post-processing minimal, and only use the tools that are necessary to enhance your photos. If you don’t need them, don’t use them.
Experiment with different creative techniques such as HDR or black and white conversion
Many photographers use different creative techniques to make their travel photos more interesting. HDR photography, for example, can create an amazing effect by using multiple exposures to capture different parts of the scene.
This can then be merged together to create a single image that has more detail and depth than a standard photo.
Black and white conversion can also be used to great effect, as it can give a photo a more classic or timeless look. By experimenting with these and other techniques, you can create breathtaking images that really stand out from the crowd.
One of the best things about photography is that there are no rules. You can experiment with different techniques and styles to find what works best for you.
So what do all of these tips have in common? They’re all about capturing emotion. Whether it’s the joy of a child playing or the intensity of a musician performing, if you can capture the emotions behind your subject, you’ll create photos that are truly memorable.
And as we mentioned earlier, emotion is one of the key elements that separates great photos from good ones.
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How do I make my travel photos stand out?
There are a few key things you can do to make your travel photos stand out from the rest. First, try to avoid the typical tourist traps and instead seek out more unique locations. Second, pay attention to your composition and framing, and third, don’t be afraid to experiment with different techniques such as long exposures or HDR photography.
What is the best time of day to take travel photos?
The best time of day to take travel photos depends on the type of photo you’re trying to capture. If you’re looking for softer, more natural light, then early morning or late afternoon/early evening are typically the best times to shoot.
However, if you’re after something more dramatic, then shooting during the midday sun can also produce some stunning results. Ultimately, it’s important to experiment and see what works best for the particular scene you’re trying to capture.
What camera gear do I need for travel photography?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the best camera gear for travel photography depends on your personal preferences and shooting style. However, generally speaking, a DSLR or mirrorless camera with a versatile zoom lens is a good place to start. For night photography or long exposures, you might also want to consider investing in a tripod.