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Every travel destination has its own unique vibe, culture, history, emotions, scenery, and stories. Mastering the art of photography allows you to document and preserve a destination’s uniqueness and share it with the world.

Photographs enable you to share your travel experiences with friends and family, while at the same time documenting the world’s diverse cultures and sharing local customs, traditions, and daily life so as to promote cultural understanding.

How to Take Better Travel Photos, Even if You Think You’re Terrible at Photography

A photo really does speak a thousand words and photography therefore allows you to tell a story of your travel adventures. They allow you to relive those special moments and preserve memories that may otherwise fade over time.

Of course a story is only as good as the author that writes it and if you are telling your story through images, your story will only be as good as your photography skills. So let’s look at a few simple tips that can make your travel stories really come alive through photographs.

Cool Tricks for Capturing Quality Travel Photos

Edit Your Photos

No longer is photo editing an arduous time-consuming task thanks to easy-to-use apps. You can now use photo editing apps for quick and easy photo adjustments and enhancement filters. Editing can significantly improve photos by enhancing various aspects of the image, such as composition, color, contrast, and clarity.

Photo editing allows you the photographer a chance to realize your creative vision, correct mistakes, and optimize images. Being able to achieve proper exposure through editing is one of the most common needed fixes and allows you to darken or lighten an image. You can also adjust the color balance, saturation, and vibrancy of a photo to make colors more true to life.

Of course, another big benefit of editing is the opportunity to remove blemishes, imperfections, and unwanted objects from images. Meanwhile, applying filters and special effects can give your photos a unique and artistic look, helping to create a mood or give style to your photography.

Choose the Right Camera

Of course, before you can edit photos you need to focus on what camera to use. Taking quality photographs begins with buying the right camera, and the “right camera” will depend on what type of photography you plan to focus on. The type of camera and lenses you’ll need will be determined if you plan to shoot mostly landscapes, portraits, wildlife, sports, or food while travelling.

You don’t necessarily have to splurge on expensive cameras and lenses to capture stunning travel memories these days. A good-quality smartphone with a decent camera can do the job just fine.

That being said, there is nothing like the versatility of a DSLR camera which often offers stunning image quality, interchangeable lenses, and numerous manual controls. This makes a DSLR a great option for the traveler who likes to photograph a bit of everything and have freedom of control.

Compact, point-and-shoot cameras are great for casual photography. They are small, easy to carry, and operate which means you can take them everywhere and never miss a shot.

Other things to consider when looking for cameras include whether they have image stabilization, perform well in low light, have a high megapixel count, offer 4K video if you’re interested in shooting videos, and offer advanced focus tracking and fast autofocus speed.

Utilize Natural Light

Photography in New Zealand camera RF

Proper lighting can transform an ordinary shot into something extraordinary. Good lighting has the ability to enhance your subject, set a mood, and add depth to your photos. Whenever possible, I always like to utilize natural light sources such as sunlight.

Pleasing images are often a result of picking the perfect time of the day to shoot. Soft, diffused natural light, like that which is often found during the so-called golden hours (early morning and late afternoon), usually produce the most satisfying results.

Pay attention to the direction of light as well. Side lighting adds depth and texture to your subject while front lighting has a tendency to make images look a bit flat. Backlighting can be used when you want to create a dramatic silhouette effect.

Add Action to your Photos

Moving beyond stationary subjects to capture action can really make your photos stand out. However, action shots require a combination of technical skill, creative vision, and good timing. You’ll need to use a camera with a fast shutter speed capability to freeze motion, with DSLRs and mirrorless cameras being the best choices for action photography.

You can try to freeze motion by shooting in burst mode to capture a series of shots in quick succession, or you can slow down the shutter speed to create a more artistic blurred motion effect.

Action photos should convey a sense of excitement and emotion. Focus on the expressions of the subjects and the story being told. You want to capture moments of interaction, intensity, and anticipation.

Capture Genuine Moments

Authentic moments are those that genuinely reflect the emotions, personalities, and essence of your subjects in your travel destinations. When shooting people, candid photography is a great technique to use which captures moments as they happen naturally, without posing or directing your subjects. This often leads to authentic expressions and emotions.

Alternatively, you may wish to build a rapport with your subjects to make them feel comfortable and relaxed around you so that their true selves shine through. Another option is to try and be inconspicuous which can help people forget you’re there.

Use a telephoto lens to capture moments from a distance or shoot from the hip to maintain a low profile. And remember that authentic moments often take time to develop. Wait for the right moment rather than rushing the shot. Patience is key to capturing genuine emotion.

Develop Technical Photography Skills

Wildlife photography

Develop your photography skills to capture amazing photos on your next trip. Improving your photography skills often involves mastering the technical aspects of photography which includes things like understanding exposure, ISO, aperture, shutter speed, bracketing, white balance, etc.

Also learn how to use histograms, which display the distribution of light in your photos, to check exposure and adjust settings accordingly. Shooting in RAW allows for greater flexibility in post-processing. You can adjust exposure, color balance, and other settings with more control compared to shooting JPEG.

Learn and apply composition techniques such as the rule of thirds, leading lines, framing, and symmetry to create visually pleasing images. Understand how aperture settings affect depth of field, like how using a wide aperture creates a shallow depth of field which is pleasing for portraits, whereas using a narrow aperture is great for landscapes to create a deep focus.

Seek Feedback

Sharing your photography for feedback is a great way to improve your skills and get valuable insights from other photographers or simply from friends and family. Choose a platform or community where you feel comfortable sharing your photos whether it’s a photography forum, social media platform like Instagram or Unsplash, your own photography website, or a Facebook photography group.

On social media platforms, use relevant hashtags to increase the visibility of your photos. This can help your photos reach a broader audience and therefore hopefully more feedback.

If your photos contain recognizable people or private property, be mindful of privacy and copyright concerns. Ensure you have the necessary permissions to share such photos, and avoid sharing sensitive or inappropriate content.


Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; an online magazine dedicated to opening your eyes to the wonders of the wild & natural world.

Having visited 100+ countries across all seven continents, Megan’s travels focus on cultural immersion, authentic discovery and incredible journeys. She has a strong passion for ecotourism, and aims to promote responsible travel experiences.





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