Photography Tips for Travel

Written By: The Planet D

Investing in travel can be one of the best things you can do for yourself. It can also be one of your most expensive purchases of the year, so you want to make sure that you bring back the best images that you can. Having the right equipment is one aspect but good technique is a must. Here are some photography tips to help you improve your technique while on the road.

The Digital camera has changed the way we view photography. It allows us to have more finite control over the post production of  our images as well as giving us more in camera control. Different brands and price points offer different features but whether you are a DSLR user, a point and shoot user or a photographer that employs the use of both there are certain techniques you can use to produce stunning travel photos.

Photography Tips for Travel

For the purpose of this post I am going to assume that you already have an understanding of your camera’s features and a basic knowledge of digital photography terms. I will cover some of what I consider to be the best photography tips for better travel photo’s.

1.Composition

Now this may seem like a no-brainer but when you are traveling and have to shoot from the hip (maybe at some once in a lifetime festival or event) it is important to have a understanding of the rule of thirds and how to employ it quickly and effectively. Imagine that your photo is cut into thirds like the grid on the photo below. We want to make sure that the main focus of the photo is not in the center square. By placing the subject either in another section or where the lines intersect gives the photo more impact and more energy than just centering it. So the next time you are taking a photo give it a try and see the difference for yourself.

ruleof-thirds
The Rule of Thirds

2. Lighting

This is a very involved subject and here are a few main points. When shooting outside remember that at midday the sun is at its harshest and, from a lighting standpoint, is the worst time to take a photograph. If you can early morning or late evening is the best time when the sun is low in the sky it will give you contrast and better colour. Another rule of thumb is try not to have the light directly behind your subject (back light) unless you are going for a silhouette effect as it can cause your subjects to lose colour and detail. And finally, move around your subject and observe how the light falls from different angles. This will give you a better understanding of light and how direction, quality and colour affect your photo’s.

The histogram in your camera shows you what the camera sees in terms of information. It is simply a graph that allows you to judge the brightness of an image.The trick is to make sure that we don’t go off the edge at either end of the graph. When we do it is referred to as clipping, which means that information is lost. You should bias your exposures so that the histogram is snugged up to the right, but not to the point that the highlights are blown. There is no such thing, in my opinion, as the perfect histogram. If you experiment with your camera before your trip you can get a better understanding of how it works.

900-mac

3. Angle

This tends to be overlooked as we tend to take all of our photo’s from one angle; straight on. The key here is to experiment especially when you are at places that are photographed a lot. Look for a unique angle, something that hasn’t been done before. When photographing children it is always best to get down to their level, it shows a level of respect as photographing people from above tends to have a condescending effect. Low angles tend to lend strength and dominance as well as dramatize the subject where high angle shots help orient the viewer, because they show relationships among everything in the picture area and tend to minimize the strength and size of the subject.

travel-photography-tips-angle

4. The 3 Question rule

This one is something I do before taking any photograph. I ask myself:

  • Is there anything that is distracting in the frame?
  • Where and what is the primary light source and how does it affect the image?
  • Impact: Should I get closer or further away?

By answering these simple questions you have already become a more aware and better photographer.

5. Depth of Field

This one tends to confuse people but it is very important in defining the impact of a photo. DOF defined is simply the range in a scene, from near to far, that is in sharp focus. DOF can be used to separate your subject from a background or keep the foreground in focus as well as the background. It is great if you have an idea of what kind of photo you want before shooting as this allows you to prepare for it. When you are shooting wide angle landscape shots it is best to have the largest depth of field as you can. In order to achieve this you should use a small aperture as well as a short focal length and be far away from your subject. That’s the easy one. For shallow depth of field you should opt for a wider aperture, a longer lens and be closer to your subject. Most new DSLR’s come with a DOF Preview which can help a lot giving you a preview through the lens of the desired effect. Unfortunately this feature is not available on most point and shoot camera’s so you will just have to experiment. Sometimes taking advantage of DOF will require a tripod or a shutter release. Not everyone can travel with these, but in there place you can use a sturdy surface and the timer on your camera.

dofsmall
Shallow Depth of Field

I hope these 5 techniques will help you in producing great travel photo’s. I know it has helped me.

Travel Planning Resources

Looking to book your next trip? Why not use these resources that are tried and tested by yours truly.

Flights: Start planning your trip by finding the best flight deals on Skyscanner

Book your Hotel: Find the best prices on hotels with these two providers. If you are located in Europe use Booking.com and if you are anywhere else use TripAdvisor

Find Apartment Rentals: You will find the cheapest prices on apartment rentals with VRBO

Travel Insurance: Don't leave home without it. Here is what we recommend:

  • World Nomads - Digital Nomads or Frequent Travelers.
  • Allianz - Occasional Travelers.
  • Medjet - Global air medical transport and travel security.

Need more help planning your trip? Make sure to check out our Resources Page where we highlight all the great companies that we trust when we are traveling.

About The Planet D

Dave Bouskill and Debra Corbeil are the owners and founders of The Planet D. After traveling to 115 countries, on all 7 continents over the past 13 years they have become one of the foremost experts in travel. Being recognized as top travel bloggers and influencers by the likes of Forbes Magazine, the Society of American Travel Writers and USA Today has allowed them to become leaders in their field.

Leave a Comment

19 thoughts on “Photography Tips for Travel”

  1. The best way to get a bit more creative with your photography is to experiment with perspective. The exact same scene can often look very different when approached from a different angle, and capturing your subject from above or below may change the whole feel of a photograph.. BTW, nice article here. Very informative indeed!

    Reply
  2. I love travel with great photos to capture, this post really give nice tips that so useful for travelers, thanks very much. And I may say that the point of being a photographer is to capture the world as you see it and share your unique perspective with others. It’s important to visualize what you want your photo to look like before you take it. This is pretty common sense, but it’s easy to forget. You are the one taking the pictures, not just the camera. Hoe that my point inspire a lot. Cheers!

    Reply
  3. These and a few other travel photo tips are always on my mind. The one I can never follow is the don’t-shoot-midday one. I only have so much time in a destination and I can’t skip seeing things in the middle of the day. So some shots are too sunny and shadowed. So be it.

    Reply
  4. Great tips guys. You have awesome pics on your website (and I’ve featured a couple of your funny travel pics on mine). Travel and photography go hand in hand!

    Reply
    • Thanks Anthony. You are so right, travel and photography do go hand in hand. Visiting new places is the most inspiring thing for taking photographs.

      Reply
  5. Great post here! I agreed with all the tips, but I especially like the three point rule! Lighting and light source makes a big difference.

    Reply
  6. These are great tips and it really is true that the camera is only as good as the person that uses it. My camera is so complex to use I had to have training in order to use it and get good photos.

    Reply
  7. Good tips to get folks thinking – composition is particularly important and so often overlooked. Also love that shot of the sitting girl 🙂

    Reply
  8. Thanks for that – easy, basic tips that I need to start thinking about. Dani’s the photographer and I’ve always been indifferent to really trying since she gets great shots. But I have just recently started using my iPod Touch on the daily and would like to develop my own style that actually takes into account composition and especially the three questions you mention!

    Reply
  9. One thing I would like to add as far as lighting is many people take pictures in a shady ares during the day and don’t think much about it because there seems to be plenty of light but when they look at the pictures the faces are dark. I would suggest anytime you are in any kind of shade especially if there is bright light in the background to always use the flash you will be so surprised at how different the pictures come out.

    Reply
  10. The shot of the young girl is lovely.

    As a long-time photographer I’d like to know what camera and lens selection you suggest for travel.

    Reply
  11. Wow, this is awesome! Lately, I’ve been more focused on creating better photographs. The light issue can be a real pain so thanks so much for the information about the histogram. I need to work on depth of field too.

    My biggest issues are definitely light. I hate taking a great photo and have glare from the sun or lose color because my lighting is wrong.

    Thanks for the tips Dave!

    Reply
  12. Have you tried using the shot for self-photos? I learned about it from another travel blogger and have used it A TON. Nice lightweight accessory to add to the camera bag.

    Reply