Tips for Taking Better Travel Photos

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As the year begins to come to its inevitable conclusion, I have fallen into the trap of reminiscing and reflecting upon the previous twelve months that I have spent mostly abroad in various parts of the world. One of the most popular questions I have recieved is regarding ‘how to take better travel photos’?

First and foremost, I’m no expert.

Atlantis The Palm Dubai

The Atlantis the Palm, Dubai

I’ve never taken a class in photography, I’ve never progressed beyond the automatic functions of my Canon 60D, and I’ve never had a professional photographer join me on my travels.

Instead, I have endeavored to capture thoughts and emotions rather than your standard ‘stand in front of iconic monument, smile, snap’.

But it’s worth mentioning that I have been travelling the globe since I was 13 years of age, and at the ripe ol’ age of 22 I have progressed through trial and error to have found my ‘style‘, if you will.

I’m incredibly particular (those who have travelled with me will know) but with a large amount of persistence and a dabble of luck, I walk away with a photo I can look at 80 times over and still be blown away by. So what are my 10 tips for taking better travel photos?

Arosa Kulm

Arosa, Switzerland

Get to know your camera before you go

It should go without saying that this is your first step in the right direction. Although the instruction booklet looks nice and glossy on the surface, it’s often much easier to consult Google with your tech questions and be exposed to the wonderful world of forums. Simple questions like “how to turn the flash off” can be resolved in a matter of minutes, through to the more tech-savvy questions like changing the shutter speed, etc. As a self-confessed hopeless photographer wannabe I tend to stick to the automatic function unless I have time on my side to experiment as I go along.

Have your camera at the ready

More times than I care to count I have seen a perfect photo pass me by in the space of minutes and been too in the moment to even consider getting my camera out. Though I have become better over the years, I must confess I still get caught up in the moment and watch a perfect picture literally pass right by me. When you’re travelling there are going to be endless photo opportunities at every turn, so be sure to have your camera in prime touristy position – strapped around your neck – and be ready to shoot at any moment.

Marrakech sunset

A Moroccan sunset

Four Seasons Milano

Don’t take the shot everyone else is taking

While I myself I have fallen into the ‘I was here’ trap, if you want to create photos that will last a lifetime and inspire your friends and family rather than present like ticks off a checklist, then consider ways you can differ your photos from everyone before you. Instead of snapping the Eiffel tower front on, consider using a Fisheye lens from the base of the tower, or visit during sunrise or sunset to add something special.

Rise and shine

The colours are better and the crowds are less. When visiting Milano for the first time earlier this year I had read in my guidebook that there was no good time to visit the Duomo as it would be bustling with tourists ‘no matter what time you go’ in the summer. Day 1 confirmed this but day 2 had a nice surprise waiting for me that came in the form of an early sunrise with literally next to no one in the square in front of the Cathedral. This made for much better photos and was just generally a better experience all round!

Practice makes perfect

As a self-confessed perfectionist, I know first hand just how much skills can evolve over time. Take advantage of the evolution of technology and go wild on that 32GB memory card! In this day and age you can literally take thousands of photos and pick and choose the creme de la creme, whilst discarding the not so good shots. For beginners (like me) it is often a process of trial and error, but don’t let a few mediocre shots set you back! Just keep shooting, trying new things, seeing what you like and don’t like…. and doing it all over again!

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