There’s no denying that travel and photos go hand in hand. After all, you’re having the experience of a lifetime, visiting places you thought you’d only ever dream about or stare at through a computer screen… so of course you want to do all you can to remember every single moment!
However capturing what you see with your eyes in a photograph can at times be challenging, especially if you’re new to photography or just bought a new camera that you haven’t learned to operate yet. I too struggled with knowing how to capture my travel photos in the early days of blogging and when I look back now I can’t help but to cringe at some of the snaps I took!
To ensure this doesn’t happen to you and you start taking
great amazing travel photographs sooner rather than later, I’ve put together the top 12 travel photography tips that have helped me most when snapping my holidays!
1. Research Locations Before you Arrive
Hands down my best tip for taking better travel photos is to stop winging it and do a little research before you arrive. Sure, winging it is always good fun, but if you’re after the best snaps of a new city, you’ll need to know where to go to get them first! My favourite tools for researching photography locations are Pinterest and Instagram.
For Pinterest I simply search the new destination I’m travelling to, i.e. “Paris”, and see what comes up. After a few hours of endless inspiration I’ve got a list as long as my arm that I want to tick off in a few days – all in search of those magical moments!
For Instagram I have a few ways to research a new location, but my favourite is to search for the tourism board’s Instagram and scroll their feed as it will be a great source to find the best photographs showing off the location. Some tourism boards do this better than others of course, but if you’re heading to a destination like @Tasmania, I promise you there’s no better way to find the best photo locations than their Instagram feed!
2. Morning & Afternoon Light
Perhaps the one single factor that always has to be considered when taking not just travel photos but any photos, is light. Most photographers will tell you that mornings at sunrise and early evenings an hour before and during sunset are hands down the best times to take photos. I’m a huge believer of this too and almost always take my photos first thing in the morning and at sunset – the colours are much more impressive and give a beautiful tone to photographs.
3. Weather Depending
A huge factor I think many travellers overlook is weather. As someone who loves all seasons equally (yes, I’m one of those crazy people who absolutely adore winter), I love to travel any time of year. However I couldn’t help but to notice that my photographs of Paris were much more colourful and lively in Spring than they were in Autumn or Winter. Thus I would suggest considering the weather factor with any of trips and keeping in mind that your photos will be significantly impacted by weather, so plan accordingly!
4. Learn to Edit, Subtly
It has taken me years to really find my signature editing process and surprisingly to most I sit down to coffee with and divulge all of my ‘secrets’ to, my editing process is incredibly simplistic. Early on in my blogging days I thought I could edit photos to look exactly how I wanted them to, even if that meant over saturating colours to make the image look more colourful and summery. I have since learned that subtle changes are best, as well as that I would prefer to spend longer getting “the shot” than I would sitting at a computer editing the photograph later. One great tip a photographer told me a couple years ago was to edit your photos as you wish, then go back and reduce your edits by 50%.
5. Find out the Apps + Programs the Pros are Using
Whenever I meet up with photographers or fellow bloggers that I admire, I almost always ask what photo editing software and apps they use. While most professional photographers use Photoshop (something I am yet to conquer), many of the people I admire manage to still edit their photos through iPhone apps only – something I too am fond of, especially being on-the-go so much! My process is fairly simple, usually only requiring a few tweaks through the Instagram app itself. I’ll almost always increase the brightness, saturation, decrease highlights, adjust shadows and increase the sharpness. Et voila!
6. Pack Only What you Need
Although it might seem like a trivial tip to give, I can promise you over-packing has often been more troublesome for me over the years than under-packing has! Once upon a time I would pack all of my cameras, lenses and tools… and I mean all of them! I’d pack two professional cameras, a small hand held camera, an instant camera, a handful of lenses…. even iPhone lenses! These days I know how to plan for the type of trip I’m taking and leaving anything unnecessary at home. The truth is that if you’re unsure whether you will use something, chances are you won’t.
7. Landscapes are Better with People in Them
When I first started solo travelling almost five years ago, I would always be asked by friends, family and eventually readers of my blog why I was always facing away from the camera. Its so funny to think back now at how many times I answered that question and defended by decision to be a part of the photo and not the actual photo itself. Of course nowadays everyone seems to be doing it and I can totally see why! Having a person in your frame tells a story and makes the viewer picture themselves there in your shoes. People also create a sense of scale for monuments, sights or attractions on your travels.
8. Ditch the Observation Deck
It took me far too many years to realise that the best photos weren’t to be taken from the observation deck or designated photo spots for travellers. More often than not the best views will be those you have to work for – climbing up mountains without tracks, jumping over “no entry” signs or entering a sight/attraction before opening hours. Proceed with caution but be brave!
9. Timing is Everything
On that note, beating the tourist rush is absolutely integral to landing a great photograph. Most travel guides say to arrive at popular attractions as soon as they enter to avoid the lines to enter, but really you want to add another hour before that to snap great photos before any of the tourists are even out of bed!
10. Look at Postcards
Sometimes I arrive in a new city with absolutely no prior research or planning whatsoever (I know, I know… in direct contrast to tip #1!!) Whenever this is the case or my memory fails me as to where I’ll snap great photos of the city I’m visiting, I almost always head for the souvenir shops and look at postcards. Not only do they reveal the most popular sights/attractions in town, but will also give you a variety of ideas on angles and times of day to photograph them!
11. Invest in Camera Equipment that Suits your Needs
When I purchased my first DSLR camera I was a salesperson’s dream come true! I walked into the shop thinking that the most expensive piece of equipment must be the best and what I would need in order to take great photos. I have since learned that this is not entirely the case. Sure, investing a great deal of money can land you some pretty amazing equipment, but if you aren’t capable of using it you’ll still be taking mediocre photographs!
I have since sold the first two DSLR cameras I had and moved on to Olympus mirrorless products. Both of my cameras are much smaller and lighter than my original choices and best of all…. cheaper! I use an Olympus OMD EM5 Mark II and an Olympus PEN E-PL7.
12. Practice Makes Perfect
I know this tip might seem irrelevant or even obvious but I really can’t stress enough how much your photos will improve the more time you spend practicing! Even when I have a beautiful sunset or sunrise in front of me, I frantically run around finding new angles and play with lighting in the hopes to get better photos. I’m also always researching tips online like how to take photographs of stars or the rules of composition. You can never stop learning and improving!