Do you find yourself inwardly cringing every time you look at photos from your recent vacations? But not because you look terrible in them, but because they’re simply not nice enough to display in your home or in a photo album? If your travel pictures are always overexposed, cluttered, or just generally not very pleasing to the eye, then you probably do—which means you’re usually left with no choice but to leave them hidden away in memory cards or stored and forgotten in the digital bowels of your computer.
If you always end up with pictures that you aren’t happy with, then you are wasting a great opportunity to immortalize some of the best experiences of your life. Travel photos are supposed to help you capture the memorable sights and sceneries that you encounter every time you visit a new place. They serve as wonderful reminders of the giddy, exhilarating feelings that usually come with traveling to an exotic new city or a foreign country or and experiencing new and exciting things.
If you want to learn how to take truly stunning and remarkable travel photos that perfectly encapsulate your memories, here are a few simple tips that can help you do just that.
Table of Content
6 Tips to Improve your Travel Photography Skills
Choose the right travel camera
Whether you’re a frequent traveler or not, you will always need a trusty gadget to help you snap a photo of an exotic dish or an unforgettable view. Choosing the best travel camera for your needs can be difficult—particularly if you aren’t updated with the latest camera models. Still, if you want to take nice pictures, it’s important to know what kind of gear will be useful for you and your future trips.
And no, your smartphone’s camera doesn’t count.
You can choose from four kinds of travel cameras: point-and-shoot, DSLR, mirrorless, or action camera. As for me, portability is one of the most important factors that I look for in a travel camera, so I invested in a lightweight mirrorless camera: the Sony Alpha A6000. It is highly portable while still having the capability to take DSLR-quality images, making it worth every penny I’ve spent.
Choose the right camera for you by taking the time to think of what specs and features you will need. Do you need something durable enough to take with you on extreme water sports adventures? Or do you need a camera that can shoot crisp photos even in low-light conditions? Figure out what you require from a travel camera before you go out and purchase one, so that you can get something that is perfectly adapted to your needs.
Get to know your gear
Familiarize yourself with everything there is to know about your new camera. Shooting in auto mode is fine, but it can limit your creativity and prevent you from taking more diverse and dynamic photos.
So, before you take your new camera out for a spin, take the time to learn how to use it in manual mode. This is a particularly important step if you wish to take better photos, because knowing how to tweak those knobs and controls can certainly help improve the outcome of your travel snaps.
If you’re using a DSLR or mirrorless camera, you will need to understand ISO, shutter speed, and aperture. And of course, you will also need to learn how to adjust these exposure tools on your camera. Doing so will not only help you produce great globetrotting photos, but it will also broaden your knowledge about photography.
Bring the right accessories
You won’t always be able to take good travel photos with just your camera alone. If you want stunning images of the places you’re going to visit, invest in camera accessories and gear that will help you take better photos in any given situation.
First and foremost, you will need a sturdy camera bag that will keep your camera (and any additional gear) protected as you travel.
As for lenses, a newly purchased camera usually comes with a kit lens, which you can practice on before you graduate to more advanced lenses. Take the time to maximize this beginner’s lens and understand how it can help you take better travel pictures. Eventually, once you get the hang of the kit lens, you can start investing in other lenses, such as a wide-angle, prime, telephoto, or zoom lens—all of which are great instruments for travel photography.
A tripod is also essential, as it gives you the ability to shoot with slow shutter speeds without worrying about the photo being blurry. It can also help stabilize your camera to avoid camera shake, making it perfect for night photography or time-lapse videos.
Alternatively, you can invest in the lighter, less bulky monopod or “selfie stick.” In addition to allowing you to include yourself in the shot, it can also serve the purpose of providing added camera stabilization.
Lastly, carry at least three to four SD cards and two extra batteries in your bag, because the last thing you want is a full memory card or a drained camera battery when you’re trying to capture a once-in-a-lifetime moment.
Use natural lighting
Here’s a tip you should always remember: lighting is key when it comes to taking amazing photos. Whenever you’re taking a photo of a subject, make sure the light is indirect, soft, and most importantly, natural.
Luckily, natural lighting is not hard to come by when you’re on vacation. You will most likely be outdoors for most of the day, so there will be plenty of natural light available. For best results, follow the “golden hour” rule and shoot your pictures at dawn, or under the glow of a gorgeous sunset.
One thing to remember is that natural lighting can also be harsh and unforgiving, as would be the case during a particularly hot and sunny day. Avoid this type of extreme lighting if you can, because it can overexpose your photos and leave you with washed out colors and indiscernible details.
Take the time to compose your shots
Always pay attention to the details so you can compose your shot properly. Before clicking the shutter button, identify the key point of interest in the scene you want to capture, and figure out how to frame it in the shot so that it looks prominent and interesting. This way, you can be sure that every photo will count.
While there are many photography composition rules out there, the rule of thirds is the most common of them all. It’s pretty easy to use, especially if you have a feature in your camera that allows you to see intersecting grids.
If your camera doesn’t have this feature, use your imagination instead. Imagine two horizontal and vertical lines, then position your subject on the intersecting points. This will make your photo look more natural and aesthetically pleasing.
Know when to let go of the camera
Taking beautiful pictures is great, but try to remember that it’s not what your trip is all about. You travel to see and experience incredible things. You travel because you want to explore what the rest of the world has to offer. You travel because you want to be in the thick of it all—not because you want to stand on the sidelines while dutifully snapping away with your camera.
Remember—you don’t have to take a photo of everything. What’s important is that you get to capture the most important moments while still being able to enjoy everything around you.
As a beginner, don’t get discouraged if your photos don’t turn out the way you want them to. You’re still a work in progress! Don’t pressure yourself, because with the right amount of practice and patience, you’ll eventually get to that point where you can effortlessly take those perfect travel photos you’ve always wanted or even become a freelance photographer.
Guest Blogger Bio –
Guest blogger Liz Pekler is a travel photographer who has found a new love: going on adventures with her little bundle of joy and taking great pictures together. If you found these tips useful, follow Liz Pekler on Twitter or LinkedIn – Feel free to connect with her directly for more killer travel photography tips and tricks for beginners.