Updated: Aug 1, 2019
It doesn’t matter if you have a $4000 camera or an old smartphone - photography might play a big role when you’re travelling. Whether you just want to share with friends and family or make a living out of it, we all have fun when documenting a trip. Said that, today I’ll share with you 15 very simple tips to improve your travel photography game and help you create better images without talking about equipment, technical specifications or anything like that.
1. Always have your camera with you.
You never know when the action you’re looking for is going to happen. So, keep your batteries charged and your camera in hands and be prepared for anything. Luck can play a key role in travel photography!
2. Don’t always have your camera with you
Yes, that’s correct. Don’t carry your camera all the time. Let’s be real: how many times did you miss the “photo of your life” just because you didn’t have your camera with you? Not many, right? Leave your camera in the hotel for a day or simple keep it inside your bag for a couple hours. I promise you the next day you’ll feel much more inspired to take pictures. Its all about balance!
3. Get up before the sun does
Morning light is, 90% of the times, the best light to photograph. Besides that, it’s always less crowded than during the day and the weather conditions tend to be better too. I’m not saying that you need to wake up for sunrise everyday, but when the place is special for you it’s definitely worth to make an effort.
4. Always look for good light
Light is everything in photography – it helps you recreate the atmosphere and the mood of that place at exactly that time. As I said before, morning time is a great time to photograph because the sun is not too strong yet, so you don’t face very dark shadows and harsh highlights. Also a couple hours before and after sunset are very interesting (called the golden hour), when normally the skies get some warm/pinkish tones. There are places where shooting during daytime – around noon – are the best too. So there isn’t a special recipe, good light depends on the place your shooting. Make sure to do some research!
5. Be a local
The best way to know a place is to know local people. Ask them to take you to their favorite restaurant, street or park. I’m sure that will not only have great photos of those places, but an amazing experience.
6. Get inspiration
Today I follow around 1500 people in Instagram. At least 75% are photographers which inspire me on a daily basis. Nowadays that’s the easiest thing you can do. Open Instagram, Youtube, Pinterest (…) and follow some travel photographers and content creators you like and begin to pay attention in their work – light, colors, composition, editing style, etc. If you’re planning to go to a new destination, search for hashtags or dedicated accounts (ex: @wonderfulindonesia, @visitjordan, @dubai, @everydayiceland) and write down or simply pin on Google Maps the places you would like to visit during your trip.
7. Invest time
If you’re really into photography and want to improve, you’ll have to study hard as you would do with any other subject from school. From composition to post-production, it takes a long time to master some techniques. I’ve learned everything I know in Youtube and I truly believe that is a great platform to learn for free. If you’re really committed and willing to spend money, take a course or a workshop with people you connect with and believe in their work. But, as I said, there are many free options in the internet that can really help you.
8. Find other angles
Straight up, get down low, diagonally, trough the crowd. There’s no limit for imagination - try the unusual! After defining a subject, force yourself to shoot it from at least 4 angles besides the first one you imagined: up close, from the bottom, from the top, from the sides, from the back, from far away, etc. For sure it will help you find the angle you like the most. Another good option is to shoot with different focal lengths if you’re using an interchangeable lens camera or a zoom lens. All of the photos below were taken at the same spot, yet they are so different!
9. Learn how to treat images in post
Photography is an art and art is subjective. Treat the image the way you think it’s the best and don’t listen to others too much – though constructive critics are always welcome. The biggest majority of photographers work their images using a post production software to achieve their personal style and give their own character to the photos. Think about your favorite photographers and figure out their techniques and workflow and then create your own style – something that you make people recognize who took that picture even before reading your handle on the top. Personally I recommend Adobe Lightroom, which is a very powerful tool that can be used from beginners to top-level professionals. What I can really recommend is going on Youtube and search for dedicated tutorials for specific creators you like – example: “@ricardobrazb editing style”. Not all of them will have one, but it’s always worth trying.
10. Get out of your comfort zone
Take that trip you’ve ever wanted to do or hike to that place you’ve never thought about ir before. Look for challenges and embrace your fears. Push yourself and you’ll grow – and you’ll feel great after! Now apply all these concepts to photography. Use every resource you have to take that perfect shot!
11. Improve your storytelling
Probably the most difficult thing about photography is to tell a good story just with one image. Of course you can write about in the caption, but it’s important that the photo itself tell that story. If the viewer emotionally feels what the photographer was experiencing at exactly that frame, it’s already a good start. A well-told story can evoke many emotions – excitement, anger, joy, happiness. If you manage to freeze a moment that will make your audience feel what you felt, that’s perfect. Nowadays you can even add more photos to a single post within a carrousel, so make sure to use that feature.
12. Don’t photograph everything, but don’t choose what to photograph
Do you want to be a landscape, a portrait or a wildlife photographer? Or the 3 of them? In the beginning is important to try different kinds of photography to see what you like, but eventually it will be important to focus on a particular style to master it. Storage nowadays can be cheap, but having 100 photos of your ice cream cone or a street sign is no good. When you have your camera in hands, remember: “is it worth photographing this? I am ever going to see this photo again?”. Remember, quality over quantity!
13. Less is more
When composing a picture, don’t try too fit many elements on it, otherwise it can get distracting. Set a subject (that can be a person, a tree, a mountain….) and think about the best way to frame it in that scene. If you have in the same photo a big waterfall, a group of people, a dog, flying birds and a camping tent, where would look first?
14. Get lost
Often the best places you’ll find by accident. A wrong turn, a dead-end road or a small alley can provide incredible off-the-beaten-path places to photograph. Don’t worry if you’re lost. In fact, get lost! Wander without destination and you won’t regret. But remember, be safe always!
15. Enjoy the moment!
You’re traveling – it’s time to enjoy. If you feel like your camera is bothering you or interrupting you to have a good time, don’t worry – try again another time. On the other side, if you’re like me, make the most out of your trips to create some incredible content to share with everyone!