5 Tips for Taking Better Travel Photos

Have you ever looked back at your travel photos and wished that they evoked the feelings of excitement, happiness, and discovery that you felt when you took them?

 

You don't have to be a pro or have the best equipment to take amazing travel pictures. All you need is a couple of insights, and lots of practice.

 

With this simple tips, your travel photos will get a boost that will make you look back at your memories with pure joy. 

 

(All of the photos in this post were taken on a Sony Alpha a6000 Mirrorless)

 

Take an unexpected point of view

 

 

I know it's tempting to take that head on shot of the Eiffel Tower that's seen on every postcard. Go ahead and take it....

 

but then give yourself permission to play a little.

 

Get a reflection of the tower in a pair of sunglasses or peeking through the middle of an alley. Get a real close up shot of the architectural detail. Turn around and get a picture everyone with their camera phones pointed up toward the landmark. Take a picture of a women eating a crossaint that happens to have the Eiffel tower in the background. 

 

Pictures like these have more interest and are more special than a postcard shot. They can only be taken from your unique perspective and will remind you more of your trip.

 

 

 

people create interest

 

A place is really all about its people. Don’t wait until all the people are out of a shot, they create interest! A crowd of people creates movement in an otherwise still scene, and a human face brings emotion. Capture people going about their regular day, a bustling market, a cute child. Document your loved ones enjoying themselves. 

 

Also, don't be afraid to pose your friends and family in a picture and force them to wait while you get a great angle. They love you already, they have to do it! And when you get a super interesting photo, trust me they will be begging you to send it to them. 

 

 

Work the scene

 

There’s a misconception that photographers walk up to a scene, take one photo, look at the camera and think 'great!'. In reality a photographer will work a scene, taking 100s of photos to get the right shot.

 

Considering this, don’t give yourself a hard time if you don’t get a great picture on the first try. This is all about trail and error, and also practice. Give yourself a few minutes to try different angles, zoom in and out, try landscape and portrait, play with different compositions. Look up and down, interesting things are not always at eye level. 

 

Sometimes a great photo is evident right from the back of the camera, and sometimes you need to go back and select afterwards. Either way, pick just the best one to save for your albums.

 

In the city, set your camera to the lowest aperture

 

Aperture has to do with the size of the lens opening and determines what is in focus in your shot. To understand this, think of what you do when trying to bring something far away into focus- you squint your eyes. For example, if you are taking a photo of a mountain and want everything in the shot to be in focus, you would want the opening in the lens to be small.

 

When sight seeing in the city, change the setting on your camera from auto to aperture priority  (will be marked with an A) and move the dial to the lowest number. In the city setting you don’t have to worry about something being too far away to not be in focus, so this will not affect most of your photos.

 

But, when you decide to zoom in on a detail or a face, you will get a nice blurred background that will look upscale and professional.

 

This is a great way to be ready for any picture when you are wandering around a city.

 

On a newer iPhone you can achieve this look using portrait mode. If you don't have portrait mode there are apps you can use to blur the background of a photo such as AfterFocus. 

 

For landscapes, set your camera to take an HDR

 

When taking grand landscape pictures, you may have noticed that you can never get the foreground and the background to look good in the same photo. This is because a camera, unlike a human eye, cannot take in more than one level of light exposure at one time. There is a simple solution for this that will completely transform your landscape pictures.

 

Google the manual for your camera to find where the HDR setting is on your camera. HDR stands for ‘high dynamic range’. Set it to plus/minus 1. When you have this activated, your camera will take 3 photos in quick succession at different exposures. You can later combine them into 1 picture.

 

This may sound complicated, but after you do it the first time it will be very easy. One change in the camera and 1 click in a photo editing program and your photo will totally change. Trust me, take 10 minutes to research your camera so that you can use this technique, it will be worth it.

 

The new iPhones automatically take an HDR when necessary and combine the 3 exposures for you. 

Regular

HDR

I demonstrate how to process this in Adobe Lightroom below:

 

Select the 3 photos

Right click, Photo merge, HDR

Click 'merge'

 

 

I hope these tips are useful for you!

 

More great travel photo tips? Leave them in the comments below.