Travel photography can be a tricky thing. There are many things to consider while you are on a photography trip.
Most tourists tend to take snaps anywhere they go and at anything they look at or think precious. Sometimes they try to take pictures like they have seen on the internet.
Well, most of them fail. They might take photos, but those are not great. As a hobby photographer, I already learned many things about travel photography. So, when I am traveling and my camera is with me, I always think how can I take a much better photo than the previous one?
What photography tips a tourist or traveler must know?
Now I am doing more research and practice how to take good photos with the device you already have. It’ can be a DSLR or even a mobile camera.
In this post, I am going to discuss some of the greatest travel photography tips shared by the pro-photographers.
01. Travel Light
If your main goal is taking photos then you are traveling with only the accessories you need most. Most traveler by habit always travels light. They know what to carry and what is important for where they are going.
When you are traveling to take photos you need to carry some professional equipment with you. Like as, extra lenses, battery, tripod and maybe an extra camera body. So, you need to minimize your other luggage.
Tips: Travelers travel alone or in a very small group, to keep up the pace.
On the other hand, most tourists will take only a small DSLR bag with them and loads of luggage to make it feel like home wherever they are staying. They do not have the proper skill to manage time and weight they are carrying.
Tourists tend to take snaps when they saw others are taking photos or selfies, not thinking of quality but quantity.
You need to determine which class are you. Are you a traveler or a tourist?
If you are into photography then choose your luggage carefully. Travel light and carry good equipment with you. You are traveling to make memories not to make the hotel room look like your living room.
02. Choose the right Lens
There are several lenses that can do the same task. Choose your one very carefully. You might lose money if you do not choose wisely.
Don’t go for a huge expensive camera body or lens when you are just starting as a photographer. Hobby photographer like you and me shouldn’t go with an expensive camera at the beginning.
If you have room for only one camera and one lens, then go for a lens that can do multiple tasks, like for landscape photography to portrait.
A good selection of camera lenses can be found in the 18-200mm or 28-300mm range.
With this range, you can do multiple tasks. The choice is yours.
03. Shoot in Raw format
While you are traveling and capturing photos, you want to snap the moment and later save it, edit it or share it with the world.
So, shooting in RAW format will save a lot of hassle for you. Fine tune your camera settings to shoot photos in RAW or JPEG FINE format.
This will give you a great flexibility to edit them later.
04. Taking notes
Not directly related to shooting your snaps, but it will greatly help you to organize your photos later.
When you go back home you might forget many details about where, when and on what occasion you have shot the photograph.
Again if you are a blogger like me this will help you regain most of your information later. After capturing photos in a place, take down notes of the place, moments or any other info you think important in your notes. Carry a regular notebook if you want.
Or, a smartphone and Google docs can do the job for you. It does for me. I always take notes in Google docs for later review on my laptop. It saves the info in the cloud automatically and I do not have to worry even my phone is lost.
Good Practice: Always copy/download your photos from your memory card to your laptop and save it online. If you do not travel with your laptop then go to a nearby internet cafe to upload them online for safekeeping.
If your mobile can read memory cards then you can do the job on your mobile too. Isn’t it amazing how a smartphone can be used to save your important data?
Always use some good quality class-10 memory cards. Here are some of them for you.
05. Choosing the Right Location to Take Snaps
Obviously, it is not possible to know every place of your destination for an ideal photo-shoot. But, you can do some online research about the place before you land there.
Read travel guidebooks and check some of the photos in Instagram or Flickr about your destinations. You might get an overall idea about what you need to carry with you and when you need to go.
Sometimes asking a local guide or fellow photographer of the place will do wonder for you. So, pre-trip location scouting is an important thing.
You wouldn’t love to roam just here and there to get a good photo by luck. Luck favors only the intelligent.
06. Talking with the Local People
Some people will say do not talk to the local people unless you have to. I disagree.
I have found it pretty amazing to chat with locals when photographing. Most of them were very helpful and after a while when I asked them for portraits they happily agreed.
Selfie is a cool thing to grab the attention of your local friends. Don’t forget to take one after they agreed to become your subject. It will also help you keep your memory lane clear.
The first thing is to ask politely if you can take portraits of them. Then chit-chat about something around you. Tell them you are interested to learn about the place.
Then ask them if you can take their photos. You will happily see that how many co-operates you. Even they do not agree, don’t lose your smile. A nice smile can make a great purchase for you.
One time in Kolkata, India I talked with a local in a tea stall for an hour. He then happily agreed to take photos with me and also his portraits.
I also got some valuable insider info on when to get up early the next day for photos.
07. Rule of Thirds
This is the most common thing every photographer tried to maintain in most of their photos. You might have already know about this. Following Rule of Third makes your photo more classic and balanced when doing landscape photography.
What is Rule of Third?
Imagine your viewing area is divided into three vertical and three horizontal area. There are lines separating them in same distance from each other. Now place you most important objects in between the criss-cross sections and the line should be over them.
For an example, if you are taking a landscape photograph with a tree as your primary object. Try to put the tree in the first vertical grid so the line is over it.
It’s not a mandatory thing to do, you just make it more appealing to the eyes. Keeping the tree in the middle of the photo will make it boring.
Remember, you do not need to follow this rules with every photo. Just take several photos with or without maintaining the rule and see which one looks better.
Pro Tips: Taking photos with a telephoto lens is much harder than you think. Try to zoom less as much as possible.
You can turn on the grid lines from your camera settings. Each camera has different menu settings so look for your one.
08. Use a Tripod
Many people have steady hands and they can take almost perfect photos in any condition. Even after that, they use tripods for much better photos.
Whatever your skill level is you are just a human and your hands are shaky when holding a camera for a long time. The solution is to use a tripod.
Using a tripod is particularly helpful when you shoot in low light condition, taking photos of sky, star, waterfalls and obviously landscape photos of the sunrise/sunset.
When you need to capture some sharp photos in low light condition, you need to keep the ISO low also the shutter speed slow, a tripod is a thing you need at that time.
With the camera fixed and steady you can concentrate on the other components of the photo.
Does that mean you will carry a heavy tripod wherever you go?
Of Course not!
Here is a good travel tripod you can carry with you. It’s pretty small and lightweight.
09. Add Human Subjects to your photograph
If you have good eyes for photography you might have seen that almost all the good landscape photos have some known element to measure it up.
A human subject is the most common thing to measure the distance and size of the elements in the photograph.
Not necessary, but adding humans in your photographs will make them more appealing. It’s also easier to measure other aspects of the photo easily.
Try photos with and without humans and check which one looks better.
10. Look from a Different View
In a crowded tourist location, you can easily notice that everyone is standing and taking photos here and there. Just from the height and front view of what they see.
Then there are very few who clicks selectively. The climb trees, lay down in the ground or bending their hip to take photos from a different angle.
I like these people. They are trying to see the whole image from a different angle. Try to be like that. Take photos from a low height and from a top distance. Mix your viewing angle.
If you have researched the location well you already know where you have the best view. Try something different then most people do.
11. Your Mobile can be Your Best Friend in Time
Believe me, in time your mobile phone will be your best friend. Think about a position where something is happening at the moment; when you have no time to adjust your camera, are you going to leave the moment?
NO! Use your mobile to snap the moment. The most mid-range mobile phone takes super quality photos in auto mode.
As a travel blogger, I always carry a good quality mobile with me. It serves me great. I can take notes on it and snap photos of the places I am going to write about. My DSLR can elaborate on the details later.
Tips: Always carry your cell phone with you. It must have a good camera for shooting still pictures and video.
12. Try to Shoot in Manual Mode
The “Auto” mode in the camera saves a lot of time. You do not need to adjust the aperture, focus, shutter speed etc.
But, it has a great drawback too. In Auto mode, you can only capture a photo as the machine program is set to do.
On the other hand, in manual mode, you can choose your own version of light and speed.
For example, you can’t shoot water trail of a waterfall in auto mode. You need a tripod and manual mode to shoot that.
My suggestion is always practice to take photos in manual mode. After a year or less, you will see how fast you can adjust your manual settings in different light and condition.
Manual mode is necessary to create effects that are not present in the camera. You can be more creative with the light and effects of your surroundings in manual mode. YouTube has a great many tutorials on how you can manipulate your camera in manual mode.
Photography is a job for the patience one. No amount of tips or tutorial can help you unless you practice a lot. It’s not always necessary that you need expensive equipment to capture great photos.
What needed is your perspective of viewing the world differently than others and a lot of patience.