Ah, travel photography! The perfect way to capture memories of that epic trip you took and show off your photography skills on Instagram. But let's face it; sometimes your travel photos look like they were taken by a drunk sloth with shaky hands. Not the vibe you were going for, right?
Don't worry, my fellow wanderlusts; I've got your back. In this article, I'll share some fun and easy tips to up your travel photography game and make those memories shine brighter than the sunsets you'll capture.
How to Take Great Photos of Travel:
- Understand Your Camera Settings
- Pay Attention to the Time
- Have a Plan
- Understand The Basics of Composition and Framing
- Test out Different Angles
- Find Interesting Human Subjects
- Rely on a Tripod, Not Your Hands
- Understand the Exposure Triangle
- Choose Between Manual vs. Auto Mode
As a child, I didn't go to many fun vacation spots. Since we had family in Laredo, Texas, that was the extent of our traveling. Now that I'm an adult, I want to travel as much as possible and see the world. These travel moments are ones that I want to treasure as long as I can. And one of the best ways to do it is by photographing as much as possible!
So, without further ado, here are my tips for perfecting those dreamy travel shots that will make your audience book a trip:
Understand Your Camera Settings
Your camera is your lifeline to snapping the perfect photographs. Before any photo journey, take a few minutes and read the manual to understand the settings. Experiment with your menu and buttons. The last thing you want to do is fidget with your camera when you have the perfect tourist destination in front of you.
Pay Attention to the Time
The time of day will mean a lot for the overall results of your travel photos. Try to shoot during the golden and blue hours.
The golden hour is either the first hour after the sun rises or the last hour or so when the sun begins to drop. The sun will give magical colors and a beautiful warm glow.
The blue hour is when the sun causes blue hues once it's below the horizon.
Whatever you do, try to avoid taking photographs when the sun is entirely out because those harsh rays will cause shadows.
Have a Plan
Never go into a photoshoot blind. Make a solid plan by researching the destination you're traveling to. Make a list of hot tourist spots you want to photograph so you can schedule your day accordingly.
Visit travel websites to see what others recommend. Maybe you want to capture the hot springs in Wyoming but need to hit them before the tourists come out - see what other people are saying! Google Maps, Reddit, and many travel forums will have these insider tips.
Understand The Basics of Composition and Framing
Take notes on this article about composition: Photography Composition Techniques
Once you have found the composition technique you want to use, pay close attention to your frame. Focus on your subject but remember the entire frame in your viewfinder. You don't want to accidentally chop part of your background off in a weird spot, someone's head, the top of a mountain, and so on.
Test out Different Angles
Keep on moving and testing out different angles. Don't just rely on one angle to get that perfect shot. Move around and keep your eyes peeled. You might be set on one composition but then notice a better option just from taking a few lil steps one way or the other. You can never have enough photos, so keep on snappin'.
Find Interesting Human Subjects
I love when I see photos from someone's travel, and they completely capture the culture. I love history and seeing people in their traditional cultural garb. However, remember to ask them for permission first and then make them feel comfortable. People might feel uncomfortable and unsure of a stranger photographing them. For example, Bangkok, Thailand, is known for having some of the best street food. Being able to capture Thais in their element whipping up excellent food is totally photo-worthy.
Related article: Street Photography - How to Become a Street Photographer (5 Steps)
Rely on a Tripod, Not Your Hands
Carry a tripod with you as frequently as possible. A tripod will be your best friend and a surefire way to capture a photo free of blur. It also helps when taking pictures in low light conditions when you need to slow down your shutter speed.
Plenty of durable yet lightweight tripods you can carry with you in your camera bag. Here are my recommendations for the best tripods on the go!
Understand the Exposure Triangle
The tips above are pretty general - however, you might be seeking more! So, let's get technical, baby!
Your aperture determines how large or small the lens opens to let light in. The aperture is measured in f stops, and the smaller the f stop number lets in the most light. The bigger the number, the less light.
Protip: Choose a wide aperture if you are striving for a blurred background. If you want everything in focus, stick with a smaller aperture.
Related article: What is Aperture and How to Use It?
While the aperture determines how much light comes in your shutter, the ISO determines the light sensitivity. It's best to keep your ISO number as low as possible to reduce too much noise. High numbers make your lens more sensitive to the sensor but are necessary for fast-moving subjects. So, for travel photography, stick to a low number.
Related article: What is ISO in Photography - When do I Use it?
The last of the holy trinity is shutter speed. The shutter speed is how long your shutter is open to grab the image. If you're on an African safari and spot a cheetah run by, you'll want a fast shutter speed of about 1/4000th of a second. On the flip side, if you are in Hawaii near beautiful waterfalls, you may want a shower shutter speed of 3 seconds to make it look smooth.
Remember your tripod! Especially when using a slow shutter speed, and this helps eliminate that camera shake. Anything slower than 1/60 of a second should have a tripod.
Related article: What is Shutter Speed in Photography
Choose Between Manual vs. Auto Mode
I recommend manual over auto mode. When your camera is in manual mode, you have complete control over everything rather than letting the camera pick the settings.
With these tips in your camera bag, you'll be well on your way to becoming a travel photography ninja. Remember, practice makes perfect, so get out there and snap away! One day you'll be the next Ansel Adams or Annie Leibovitz, capturing stunning shots from around the globe. But for now, enjoy the journey and keep clicking those shutters. Happy travels and happy shooting!