Taking better travel pictures is really possible. The best thing about traveling, aside from the exciting new experiences, is the chance to take stunning photos along the way and keeping them as the best reminder of your fantastic memories! But too often, when we visit famous landmarks and other popular travel destinations, we end up with run-of-the-mill photos that fail to capture the amazement and exhilaration we feel at that precise moment. Sometimes, we end up with photos that look like regular old postcards—which can obviously be purchased at the nearest gift shop.
So how can we make our travel photos more interesting, and ultimately, more memorable? First and foremost, you will need a reliable camera—the kind that can take high-quality photos in the blink of an eye and performs flawlessly in all types of lighting or weather conditions. Most memories are fleeting, and if your camera misses them, they’re gone forever.
When it comes to cameras for travel photography, my personal favourite is the Nikon D750, which I purchased from Adorama a few years ago after reading its glowing reviews. It’s an affordable DSLR with a lot of pro features, plus it’s smaller and more compact than most Nikon DSLRs, which makes it great for traveling. When you’re taking travel photos, you don’t want to be hindered by a lot of excess weight, so a lightweight, travel-friendly camera with powerful features is a must-have.
But enough about equipment—let’s move on to some travel photography tips!
Taking better travel pictures is possible!
Immerse yourself in the scene.
Famed war photographer and photojournalist Robert Capa once said: “If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.”
Taken literally, this statement could mean that one only needs to zoom in or move closer to the subject to get a spectacular shot. But what Capa most likely means, especially due to the nature of his work, is that we need to immerse ourselves fully in the action to take amazing, memorable photographs. Basically, don’t be an outsider looking in—get involved and take photos from a participant’s perspective for more intimate photos that can evoke true-to-life emotions.
I’ve found my trusty Nikon D750 to be particularly handy for this purpose, as it’s ideal for action shots due to its fast shutter speeds and remarkable autofocus capabilities. But any camera that allows you to take photos at lightning speed (without blurring, of course) will do.
Have a mix of elements.
The key elements of travel photography are people, places, things, and events. Most of the time, we limit ourselves to one or two of these key elements—a picture of the Eiffel Tower with a couple standing in front, for instance. But to make your photos more memorable, try to have a mix of each element in your photograph. Exotic locations and historical landmarks are interesting in their own right, but that’s what postcards are for. If you want to add more interest and personality to your photo, include some other key elements as well.
Pay attention to lighting.
Lighting is always a critical component to creating a great photo. The middle of the day—when the sun is shining at its brightest—may appeal to some as the perfect time for taking photos, but in reality, it is probably the worst time of day for it. The harsh lighting may wash your subjects out, for one, and then there’s the struggle of trying to shoot anything against the light.
When choosing a time of day to take photos, it’s best to go with sunrise or sunset, which is when the lighting is softer, warmer, and much easier to work with. That is the ideal, of course, but most of the time you won’t be able to choose a time of day to shoot your photos. Learn how to work with the available lighting by changing your position or experimenting with your aperture, shutter speed, and ISO settings to get just the right amount of exposure for your photo.
Experiment with angles.
Shooting a familiar location from a different, unconventional angle is one of the best ways to make a photo more interesting. For example, most people who photograph famous landmarks like the Taj Mahal would shoot it from afar while standing up. But if you want a more interesting photo, experiment with different angles while shooting your subject. You can even shoot from a low-angle perspective to spice up an otherwise boring, traditional postcard shot.
When it comes to shooting unconventional angles, it really helps to have an adjustable tilt-angle screen on your camera. My Nikon D750 has a tilting LCD screen that makes it much easier to take certain types of photos—such as extreme low-angle shots—that are nearly impossible to take while looking into the viewfinder (unless you want to end up having to lie flat on the ground with your chin in the dirt). Smartphones work as well since you can easily tilt your phone to see the screen, but if you are a photography purist, you should invest in a good DSLR with an adjustable tilt-angle screen.
Don’t limit yourself to the usual tourist spots where people normally take photos. Be adventurous, explore, and go farther than everyone else is willing to go. Follow Robert Frost’s advice and take the road less traveled. You’ll find beautiful, exciting new places you’ve never seen before, meet new people, and experience new things.
For memorable, out-of-the-box photos, creativity is essential. Zooming while simultaneously taking your shot is a cool trick to try to convey a sense of movement, while playing around with motion blur creates movement and beautiful lighting effects. Another popular trick is to shoot through an object to add more interest to the photo’s composition and intensify the focus on your subject.
When it comes to creating memorable photos, your creativity can be one of the most important tools in your arsenal. Use reflective surfaces, moving cars, and various other elements to create unique, interesting photos of your travels.
Never stop taking photos.
Just keep snapping away! You know how professional photographers usually take about a million photos before choosing just two or three out of the bunch? That’s because it usually takes a whole lot of shots before you get just the right one. Not only that—constantly taking photos of everything you see will help give you a more realistic collection of travel photos that can more accurately capture what your trip was really like.
Wherever you are or whatever you’re doing, don’t forget to snap a few photos. It gives you a better chance of capturing every glorious, spontaneous memory from your trip!
Bring less gear.
Okay, this tip won’t necessarily help you compose a memorable travel photo, but it’s still important to include. Most people always end up bringing way too much equipment when they travel, and that can really get in the way of taking amazing, spontaneous photos and creating memories.
When you’re traveling, it’s always a good idea to put a limit on the items you will be carrying around with you. Mobility is absolutely critical when you’re traveling. When it comes to your camera gear, just stick to the bare essentials because unless travel photography is your profession and you’re traveling solely for the purpose of taking photos, bringing five different lenses, two tripods, three flashes, and a macro ring light may be on the excessive side. Besides, you don’t want to be hampered by all that weight when you’re trying to enjoy the sights, right?
When I take pictures, I usually just bring my DSLR, maybe a tripod (if I’m shooting at night), an extra lens, an all-around flash, and a spare memory card. Most would recommend bringing an extra battery, but the D750 has a pretty impressive battery life, so an extra battery is not necessary for me.
It’s also important to note that bringing too much equipment—and expensive camera equipment at that—makes you a prime target for thieves.
Despite affording you the chance to visit exciting new locations, travel photography can get monotonous—especially if you take the same types of scenic photos over and over again. For your next adventure, try using some of these tips to make your travel photos more interesting, more distinct, and ultimately, more memorable.
All Images Source: Pixabay.