5 Basic Travel Photography Tips To Know Before You Go

January 7, 2010 18 Comments »

travel photography tips

I’ve taken thousands and thousands of photos. I’ve carried my favorite cameras and lenses to heights of 18,000 ft. It’s  been with me every step of the way to over 65 countries for over 10 years of traveling. I feel like at this point I’m qualified to give out a little photography advice! I do a lot of candid street photography as well as landscape photography. Both have its challenges when you are on the road and at the mercy of Mother Nature, geography, and human nature. I’m sure that as a traveler, you want to capture what you’re seeing and experiencing, so here are a few tips to get the exceptional shots you want on your next trip.

Scan Your Frame Before You Click

travel photography tips

Nice! Except for power line in the upper right!

Before you click the shutter button, take one last look around your frame; especially the corners. Look for pesky power lines and other distractions. There’s nothing worse than trying to get a great shot of the simplicity of village life in remote areas and there are power lines running through your shot! If power lines are in your frame, then go to another vantage point (squat down or stand on something) so you can get a nice clean shot. Right before I shoot I move my eye around the perimeter of my frame to make sure it’s clear – then take the shot.

Go Wide to Tell the Bigger Story

wide angle travel photography tips

Capture your surroundings with a wider angle

I know everyone likes to have these super zoom cameras and lenses, but the more powerful photos are the ones where you can see the people relate to their environment.  Your photography will improve by widening your view. Not only will you get the environment around a person, but by using a wider angle and not relying on the ‘crutch’ of a zoom lens, it will force you to get up closer to your subject. This means that you’ll interact more with your subject and that ALWAYS makes a better picture. Don’t simply zoom in and ‘steal’ pictures, they are never as good. If you use an SLR camera, simply use a wide angle lens for a day and see how your photography improves!

Memorize Your Camera

travel photography gear and tips

If you are using an SLR camera make sure you get to know your main controls by feel BEFORE the trip. While you have the camera up to your eye looking thru the view finder, make sure you can find and switch the ISO, shutter speed, aperture, and focal points by feel (without removing the camera from your face to look for the buttons!). Practice these things before you leave on your trip. Set up a shot and see if you can change all of these things quickly by feel. It may be tough at first, but with practice, you’ll get to know the locations of these buttons and wheels just as you know your shutter button and zoom. Knowing these features will help you to react quickly to the ever changing situations around you while doing travel photography.

Crouch Down for Better Photos

travel photography tips

Get to their level

Doing street photography is challenging. If you don’t want to stand out as you are taking photos, then try to blend into the crowd more. I do this by crouching down/squatting and taking photos from a lower viewpoint. This way I don’t stand out as much (I normally travel in Asia where I seem to tower over everyone!). If you are photographing children, then crouching is a must to get to their level and interact more with them. It helps put them at ease. Plus crouching has added benefits – it normally offers a more unique perspective.

Be Patient and Wait For the Photo You Want

When you see someone doing something you want to capture, how do you go about asking permission to take their photo and not have them stop what they were doing and pose/grin into the camera? You wait. And wait. It’s inevitable if you ask someone to take their picture while they are playing an intense game of cards, they will all stop and look at the camera and smile; not quite the shot you were looking for. However take that shot of their cheesy grins and then show it to them…they will all laugh and smile be satisfied. Then they’ll go back to their game of cards. That’s when you can now wait around and get the real shots you want. Your newness will wear off and they will forget you are there and go about their intense game. Now you can start clicking.

These are just a few travel photography tips you can digest for your next trip. But the best advice I can give you is to PRACTICE!

What’s In My Camera Bag?

Good travel photography gear is important.  Here’s what I take with me on my travels! My Favorite Travel Photography Gear

Do you have a travel photography tip to share? Speak up and help others improve their shots!

View Sherry’s Photography Portfolio


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