Tips for Capturing Great Shots While You Travel
While we may all have different travel styles and reasons for why we travel, what nearly all travelers have in common is that they enjoy taking photos. Taking photos is often one of the main highlights of traveling and it’s safe to say very few of us fail to take at least a few photos during our trips.
Whether it’s taking selfies in front of famous landmarks, taking foodie shots of delicious dishes, seeking out wildlife with a long telephoto lens, or simply documenting special memories while traveling with your family, being able to relive your special travel moments through photos and share them with family, friends, and possibly the world allows those moments to live on forever.
They say a picture speaks a thousand words, but a good picture speaks poetry and sparks emotion. If you want to make your travel photos really stand out for your travel blog, making stunning prints for your wall at home, or simply to make your socials like Instagram more impressive, here are some easy tips that will allow you to start taking more quality photos.
Where Not to Take Travel Photos
Before we get into how to take better photos, it’s also important to highlight places where you shouldn’t take photos while traveling whether it’s out of respect or because doing so could be disruptive or land you in trouble.
Airports are the first place where you may be inclined to take photos and while many beautiful airports like Singapore deserve to be photographed, there are areas that are off limits when transiting through airports. These include security checkpoints, bag screening, immigration and customs, and other sensitive areas.
When it comes to attractions, many places readily encourage you to take photos and share your memories on social media for publicity. However, places of worship like mosques, temples, and churches often ban or restrict photography. Art galleries and museums often prohibit the use of cameras or possible flash, one of the most notable places banning photos altogether being the Sistine Chapel.
Certain shops may also ask that you not take photos, especially those selling artistic creations. For example, places like the mask shops found in Venice often frown upon tourists taking photos.
Casinos too are a place where you may find the use of cameras is not allowed. Often times, taking photos or videoing active gaming tables, the cashier’s cages, or employees will get you in trouble. You may be asked to delete photos you have taken or even be escorted off the premises.
So maybe just forego taking photos at casinos and just stick to playing online casinos so you won’t be tempted to take a sneaky selfie in front of the blackjack tables. A quick read of national casino review shows that gamblers who choose to bet online have greater access to more games, the tables and slots are always open, and you can often take advantage of enticing rewards and bonuses.
Many people believe you must need a lot of camera gear to be able to take quality, professional-looking photos, but that just isn’t the case these days. Thanks to the photographic advancements of smartphones, especially iPhones, taking photos with your phone can produce some surprising results. Many photos you see in popular magazines today were taken with smartphones.
You may not need the bulky and heavy tripod, long lenses, and camera bags. The more camera gear you carry the greater the burden can be, and the greater the burden the likelihood you will actually take less photos because you won’t want to carry your gear everywhere.
The goal is to make taking pictures enjoyable and easy so that you can capture more travel memories. It is often those travelers that carry a more compact lightweight camera that take their camera everywhere during their travels and therefore miss very few incredible travel moments.
Know How to Use Your Camera
This may seem like an obvious tip, but you’d be surprised at just how many travelers fail to get to know their camera equipment fully. Don’t discard your camera user manual as it offers a wealth of information that will allow you take to advantage of all of your camera’s features. If you can’t locate it, you can often do a Google search for a free PDF manual of your camera.
Even if you are using your smartphone, there are often a number of camera features you may not have been aware of that could help improve your shots.
DSLR cameras often have many buttons and settings, and learning what each does and when to use them could turn a good photo into an exceptional photo. Some cameras or their interchangeable lenses may have limitations as well, so knowing what those limitations are can help.
Different lighting situations as well as different subjects often require using different cameras, lenses, and filters so it’s all about learning what equipment and settings are ideal for the conditions you are shooting in or the subject you are photographing.
Choose Optimum Times to Shoot
Capturing stunningly-lit images with colors that seem to really pop often take some planning. You cannot expect to achieve ideal lighting and colors under harsh conditions like a midday sun. Often, you’ll find the most pleasing light for shooting outdoor travel photos is just after sunrise and just before sunset. The further you get outside these times, the harsher the light becomes under sunny skies.
You may be able to still achieve positive results around midday if you have overcast or cloudy skies. Depending on the subject you are shooting, they may look more pleasing at certain times of the day. Some landmarks or places may only be lit up by the sun during certain periods of the day so it’s all about learning when the best times are to get the best photos of the subject you are interested in shooting.
One way to really get your photos noticed is to make them look different than everyone else’s. We tend to see amateur travel photographers trying to take the same exact images they have seen in their Instagram feeds. It’s not about copying what you have seen but instead trying to capture something unique to create a style that is more exclusive to you.
Try to capture an image that conveys how the subject you are photographing made you feel. Look for unique angles that may offer a different perspective on the subject you are shooting. The more unique you can get with your images whether it’s through adding elements or finding a unique vantage point or angle that is rarely used can make your images more intriguing to look at.
Take a look at local tip sources like travel forums, websites and guide books for potential locations, events, and attractions in the area. Local photographers can be an invaluable source of information and can provide invaluable tips that often aren’t published anywhere else.
At least knowing what may be available to photograph will help you better draft an itinerary that allows you to plan where and when to go so you don’t miss out on opportunities offered by specific destinations. Knowing when special events are that may interest you will allow you to possibly book travel at certain dates to take advantage of events you would like to photograph.
And while it’s great to use travel books, guides, and Instagram for inspiration on what to see and photograph, allow yourself some time to explore new places in the area you are visiting. A great deal of what makes a good travel photograph is the subject you are photographing and the uniqueness of it as we touched on earlier.
Venturing off track will often reveal hidden gems and private locations more suitable for photography. You don’t want to simply follow the same well-trodden tourist path that will yield the same images everyone else takes, rather you want to make your own trail and uncover authentic culture and travel experiences that tell a story of the place you are visiting.
It’s not about hitting all the top landmarks and locations, simply documenting the same subjects that you see all the time in travel books and guides, rather it’s trying to capture the true feel and character of travel destinations that will allow you to relive the moments you remembered most.
Limit the Edit
When shooting, try to resist the urge to over process your images. While basic retouches can be nice, anything more may start to look artificial and can strip away any natural beauty the shot may have. Try not to crop too much or add heavy filters or effects unless your goal is to be artsy with your images. Allowing an image to speak for itself adds a level of authenticity to the photograph.
When it comes to travel photography, editing should be more about subtlety enhancing an image to replicate what you saw with your own eyes rather than to create a false misrepresentation of what something was. You don’t want to deceive others with your travel images, giving them a false idea of what they can expect to see, nor do you want to create false travel memories for yourself with images that may not really tell the true story.
Learn Photography Basics
Learning the basics of photography isn’t difficult and will allow you to quickly achieve more professional-looking results. You want to gain an understanding of things like composition and the Rule of Thirds, when to use Aperture Priority and Shutter Priority modes, ISO, depth-of-field, exposure compensation, adjusting white balance, etc.
Following the basic principles that equate to a taking a quality photo can be used for all types of subjects, so learn these principles and you can start taking better photos of nature, people, buildings, monuments, food, landscapes, etc.
Travel always brings people together in unique and often unexpected ways. Experts suggest capturing moments of joy and human emotion. Whether it’s a story of a child running up to you in the street for a hug or a once-in-a-lifetime moment such as a woman in her wedding dress, try to make your shots personal and genuine.
Taking a selfie here and there or posed shots is fine but it’s often the unexpected candid shots that capture real emotion and really stand out. It can be very difficult to stage real emotion and you can tell a picture that has captured a real moment in time as opposed to one that has been orchestrated.
Take Many Photos
For every exceptional image you take you can expect to delete countless others. Even professional photographers often take hundreds if not thousands of images before they end up with a single photo or two that they are really pleased with.
We thankfully live in a time where we have digital photography which makes taking tons of images both easy and inexpensive. Don’t be afraid to take a lot of photos and simply delete the ones you are dissatisfied with later. The more photos you take, the better your chances are of capturing a special moment, especially when it comes to photographing wildlife and people.