Nowadays it seems like we have a camera stuck to our hand everywhere we go, from cell phones and point and shoot, to DSLR and beyond. What was once a split second in your travels, can now be preserved for all time.
If we are going to preserve our travel memories to share with friends and family, it makes sense to put some thought into it. To take photos others will find engaging, photos that will help trigger memories in the years to come and of course photos that make us look amazing. Here are my top 5 tips for taking awesome travel photos.
Get a hand – If you’re going solo don’t be shy about asking for a hand, you will be surprised at how many people will be happy to take two seconds to help you with that awkward snap. Then there is always the selfie stick, but be aware these useful contraptions are increasingly being banned from galleries and museums. Lastly, if you’re serious about photography a mini tripod will fold up in your pack and improve your shots to no end.
What to take pics of – As often as not we are taking photos of the wrong things! What you will be struggling to explain to the folks back home is the feel of a place, of daily life and causal oddities, not that one amazing view. By all means photograph the view, but put some thought into other things you will want to remember when you look back at your trip. Try photographing your dinner or other daily tasks, local people (with permission) and architectural detail. It takes a little practice to notice the smaller things that shape the feel of a place, but looking back at your travel snaps you will be glad for the effort you put in. Another helpful idea is to snap signs and place names, handy if you get lost with no local language and when looking back through your photos it will remind you where you were when the photo was taken.
Know your camera – The best way to get the most from even a point and shoot camera is to understand what you are working with. To start off read the manual and get a good idea of what the pre-sets and modes do. Take a bunch of photos and decide what works best. Make sure you set your camera on the highest possible resolution and that you are using optical NOT digital zoom. You may also want to experiment in different levels of light as longer exposure times almost always take better photos than using the flash.
Composition – The next step in taking amazing photos is considering your subject. The first step in a good composition is making sure you don’t cut off part of the picture, limbs etc. The second is having good balance. In art we often refer to the rule of thirds, breaking your pic into thirds both vertically and horizontally so you have nine tiles. Now place the main points of interest in your piece centred on the four intersections of these lines. Now you have an interesting shot showcasing your subject without being too symmetrical or boring.
Then there are portraits. Start with a simple background and a well-lit subject. If you are taking a selfie, experiment with camera angles till you find your best side. Extend your neck and practice smiling. Believe it or not, the secret to a good self-portrait is practice
Sort and store – So sorting photos is never fun and if you let your 20,000 holiday snaps get in a tribal mess, there is a good chance you will never come back and enjoy them. So set up some good practices from the start. Set your camera’s time and date correctly, then when you upload your photos to a computer you can simply place them in files by month. If you also take photos of signs, towns, guest houses and attractions you will be able to remember where you were. Finally but maybe most importantly: back up your photos. Put them onto online photo sites, back up to the cloud, a hard drive or a memory stick to send home. As someone who has personally lost months of priceless memories I know making a habit of regularly backing up your files will be something you never regret.
So there you have it: some lightning fast tips to make your travel photos amazing.
Below is a slide show of travel photos to give you some ideas of things to take photos of. Try something different to keep those memories fresh and fun.
Hope you enjoyed this article; please share any of your own photography tips in the comments section on my main blog page.