Taking photographs as you travel is one of the best ways to preserve your memories of your trip. Whether you’re sharing your photos on a blog or Instagram, sending them to friends back home, or aiming to create a photo book full of your adventures, here are a few simple tips for how you can improve your travel snaps.
Beat the crowds
Get out early in the morning or in the evening to take your photos, especially if you’re staying in a city or visiting a popular tourist site. If you’re looking to capture the perfect shot of a landmark without hordes of tourists standing in front of it, you need to visit when no one else is around. The other benefit of shooting in the morning or evening is that you can take advantage of the best light of the day during what is known as the Golden Hour, when the sun is lower in the sky.
Talk to people
It’s rude and disrespectful to take photos of local people without their permission—and you’ll also achieve much better shots if you aren’t attempting to use your camera sneakily. Approach people who you find interesting, start a conversation with them, and then ask if they would mind if you take their photograph. If they say no, respect their decision.
Know the rule of thirds
Composition is one of the easiest parts of photography to get a handle of. If you are unsure of how to compose your travel shots, turn on the grid feature of your camera to see a grid of two horizontal and two vertical lines on your feed. Your goal is to place the important parts of your photograph on the points where the lines meet, and also to use the lines as a guide for how to frame your photo. If you’re taking a picture of a landscape, try to line up the horizon with one of the two horizontal lines for a perfectly balanced photo.
Step into your image
Even if you’re travelling alone, you can feature in your images by using a tripod and either a remote shutter or a self-timer. Try to get creative with how you place yourself in your photos by facing away from the camera or interacting with your surroundings. If you’re taking a shot of a landscape, use yourself to add perspective to the image, so that the viewer of the photograph can see how high or large a cliff or lake is.
Pay attention to the little details
It’s easy to just take a few photos of popular landscapes or landmarks, then put your camera away, but you’re more likely to capture interesting photographs if you pay attention to the little details. By all means, photograph the main tourist sights, but also spend time wandering around, photographing anything that catches your eye. You could get closer to a building and photograph details such as tiles or carvings, or you could pay attention to the things that other people may miss, such as an interesting plant or an intriguing shadow.
You will be able to take much more creative and interesting photos if you learn how to use your camera on its manual mode. Take some time ahead of your trip to get to grips with aperture, shutter speed and ISO. Learn how to give an image more depth of field or how to take photos of fast-moving objects.
If you want to take more interesting travel photos, you need to step outside the box and look beyond the typical postcard pictures. Choose a different perspective, experiment with a shallow depth of field or focus on less obvious parts of the landscape to create unique photographs that offer something a little bit different.
Tell a story
The most important thing to remember when taking your travel photos is that you want to tell a story. Take photographs that are full of personality and intrigue, capturing moments that you’ll want to remember. Use your camera to tell the story of your trip, photographing the places where you stay, the meals that you eat and the people that you meet. Show the type of holiday that you have had through your images.
Emma Lavelle is a UK based writer and photographer and has her own blog Field and Nest.