You may not take travel photos as a main source of income, but one thing most travelers had in common this year was a desire to take better photography.
As the saying goes, practice makes perfect, but even with a lot of practice, your pictures might be only marginally improving. Should you visit a new travel destination so that you find a new source of inspiration, or are you working with mediocre equipment?
It’s more likely that you just need to re-center your focus. Which you can easily do with these tips.
Tips for Taking Better Travel Photography
Research What Makes Good Photography
Look at some free travel photos by professional photographers and discover what they are doing differently. Look at how they compose their photos, the colors they use, and if there are any common themes to what makes great photography.
You might find that simply changing up your photo compositions will result in a better finished product.
Plan Out Each Photo Series
It’s great to travel with a plan for your photography. For instance, if you’re heading to New York City and you anticipate getting good pictures of its residents in action, you’ll have to be out when locals are most active.
In this scenario, you might want to head out during rush hour in the morning, or on a busy Friday night as opposed to noon on lazy Wednesday afternoon.
Knowing your subject matter as well as their habits will aid you in creating better laid out pictures. And you’ll definitely want to check the weather in advance.
Change Your Approach
Are you methodical with your photography, visualizing each picture in your head before pressing down on the shutter? Or do you take hundreds of pictures and only end up with two or three which are useable in the end?
Surprisingly, altering the way that you approach photography as a whole can make you rethink your pictures and help improve your skill. Refuse to do things the old-fashioned way and see if your latest travel photo series makes you do a double take.
Travel Photo Composition
Photo composition is important, because your subject matter needs to express to the viewer that it’s about travel.
When in Philadelphia, you don’t need to include the famous ‘Love’ statue in every picture, but ensuring that little hints such as famous landmarks or even street signs are included can help.
In addition, great travel photos don’t always make it obvious to the viewer where they were taken. Instead, they should be interesting enough that an observer just has to ask, ‘where was this taken?’
Good travel photos tell a story and create a picture in the viewer’s mind via great composition and juxtaposition. If you’re taking pictures of objects, be very thoughtful about the angles you capture. Also, try to capture people interacting with the environment in the most interesting ways.
Explore Without Your Camera First
Get inspired by walking around the city you are visiting without your camera in tow at first. Smell the air, see the lights, meet the locals and just take it easy for a while.
You’ll be more relaxed and calm when it’s time to start focusing on photography, and you’ll already have ideas about exactly what you intend on capturing with your camera.
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Great tips, thank you! I have recently bought a Sony mirrorless camera, which I love so far, but am still learning how to use it. Have you taken any professional photography classes? Am considering signing up for a day class to get some more pointers :) I think I struggle with the planning, need to get more variety in my shots!
Thanks Katie, glad the post was helpful for you! The Sony mirrorless is a fabulous camera, but yes, as with any fancy new tool it’ll take some time for you to learn the different modes, and settings :)
I haven’t personally taken any classes, I read different free resources online, youtube tutorials, and browse the photo streams of really good photographers to get a feel for their camera angles and learn how they focus, which color schemes look great etc. And I learn that way.
Gary Arndt runs Travel Photography Academy though which offers photography courses, and he’s an insane photographer – his shots are epic, so if you were going to learn from someone I would definitely recommend him. Link is: https://travelphotographyacademy.com/?ref=8
I think there always is room for improvement when travel photography is concerned. Each photograph that one takes can be improved upon. In essence, I don’t think there can be anything like a perfect photograph. Your tips make me think about what all I could do myself to improve my pictures. The tip about first checking out the area without a camera is something I find really interesting and something that I will test out.
I agree! Techniques, as well as technology are always evolving, so there’s always room to learn more and experiment! I also agree that there’s no such thing as the perfect photograph – I think often it’s the imperfections in a scene, or the lighting, which can make a photograph great. That said there’s definitely such a thing as bad photographs! Lol.
So glad that these tips were useful for you – hope they help with improving your pictures!
I learned a few tips here! Always happy to up my game, especially with my Canon shots. I shoot on the fly, choosing to document moments and then shoot video too. It’s hard to plan out. But that said, I’ve traveled with photographers who take great pains to research and plan their travels. Much depends on where your pictures are going.
Awesome Elaine! Glad we could help :) Shooting on the fly is definitely not something which can be planned, but as you said, it does depend on where your pictures are going. Maybe try and plan out some photo shoots for an upcoming trip and see how you go with it :)
Great Post thought I took photos from my phone only. My hubby takes great shots with the DSLR:) Forwarding this post to him:)
Ah the phone photography vs DSLR photography debate :D Honestly both take incredible photographs now, and you can definitely apply a lot of these tips to phone photographs too – like planning out a shoot, your composition, etc :)
It’s my pleasure to have such guideline on taking photos one I’m travelling my best places. I will surely follow your guideline which going to give me better performance on taking photos. It will increase my photo taking experience.
Glad the post was helpful for you Steven – hope you get some amazing photos from your next trip!
What an awesome post here! I am getting great tips on photohraphy. Thanks for sharing this insightful post.
You’re welcome Emmanuela, I’m glad that the post was helpful for you :)
Amazing write-up, Megan!
I’ve always loved traveling, but never thought of making it a source of income until recently. I plan to quit my routine job in order to become a travel photographer, and these tips will definitely come handy on my first trip to Europe next month.
Just one question, are the kit lens and wide angle lens enough for landscape photography or do I need to upgrade my gear?
Thanks Olivia, I’m so glad the article was helpful for you :) For landscapes, your kit lenses and wide angle should be more than enough. Have an amazing time in Europe!