Tips & Tricks for Travel Photographers

This guest post was contributed by the Blurb friends at Cloundinary, an image-management platform.

Travel photography is undeniably and endlessly inspirational. Who doesn’t love to look at photos of captivating people from foreign cultures? Of surreal and ethereal landscapes, intricate architecture, and energetic street life? Each image, including those that are far from beautiful or pleasant, tells a story.

Above everything else, travel photography is about using photojournalism to capture moments that may have otherwise been unrecorded history. It’s about telling stories of history, culture, landscapes, people, food, street life, diversity, wildlife, universal similarities, struggle, and happiness. Trying to capture all these things may seem like a daunting task, but we’ve compiled a list of travel photography tips and tricks that will make it a lot easier.

Tip #1
Travel Slowly

This advice isn’t just for photographers, but for anyone traveling. The slower you go, the more you’ll see. When traveling, you often see the opposite of this. People are in a rush, so they quickly jump out of a vehicle, snap a few pictures, and carry on. Make sure to wait for the best moment to arise, take time to consider composition and weather, and try to truly experience the place or subject you’re photographing.

Tip #2
Patiently Watch and Wait

Patience is everything. If you don’t have it, you’ll miss out on getting the best possible picture. If the lighting isn’t right, stick around. Too much cloud cover? Wait it out. If your subject is a little nervous, give them time. When there’s a scene you want to create, sometimes you just have to wait.

Travel photography: Watch and wait

Tip #3
Plan. Plan. Plan.

Planning your trip as a photographer is different than doing so as a tourist. There are more things you have to consider. Are some countries more photogenic than others? Are you traveling to have photos of places that tell a story? What things do you want to capture? What emotions are you trying to convey? Do you only want to have photos to that allow you to remember your trip? Asking yourself these question will help you choose where you want to go, which can sometimes be tough to narrow down.

Tip #4
Keep Your Camera Handy

Try to make a habit of bringing your camera everywhere, because the day you don’t is the day that you miss a wonderful photo opportunity. Having said this, there is value to be found in occasionally taking a step away from your viewfinder, to give you a different perspective on a place.

Travel photography: Keep your camera handy

Tip #5
Travel Light (but don’t under-pack!)

Generally speaking, you’re going to want to bring one camera body, several memory cards, a lightweight travel tripod, a portable storage device, probably a flash, maybe a compact point and shoot for the times you can’t bring your DSLR, a durable bag, maybe a couple of filters, and a couple of lenses. Bring the ideal lenses for whatever type of photography you practice most often. Don’t bring ALL your gear just because it’s a big trip, but traveling as a photographer means more gear than traveling as a tourist.

Tip #6
Get Off the Beaten Track

This is one of the most important tips. If you’re comfortable enough, try your very best to get off the beaten path. Explore roads less traveled, go on your own, wander down maze-like alleyways in ancient cities, visit far-flung rural areas, and meet as many locals as possible. These kind of scenarios are where the magic really happens. Spontaneity is all part of the fun.

Get off the beaten track

Tip #7
Mix it Up

Make sure to closely consider your composition options. Know how the focus of interest looks at different times of day and in different weather conditions, consider the different foreground and background options for the same subject, try shooting from different angles, using a different lens, thinking about different vantage points, and how to tell a story from a different perspective. Shoot a variety of subjects too from food and architecture to nature and people. That way you can represent the fullness of the place.

Tip #8
Always Ask for Permission

Etiquette is one of the most important things to remember when taking photos of people. Always, always ask for permission, especially if you want to photograph children. Interact with your potential subjects, take time to get to know them, learn about their story, and treat them as humans rather than a mere prop or photo opportunity.

Travel photography: Always ask for permission

It’s important to be confident when approaching strangers. A lot of photographers struggle with this and with the possibility of being rejected, but it’s a necessary hurdle. People will almost always let you take their photo if you approach the situation correctly. If there’s a language barrier, smiling, using hand gestures, and being polite will go a long way. If someone says no, just move on and don’t worry about it. If you’re keeping your eyes open, another shot will present itself.

Final Thoughts

Every destination has its own character, feel, and energy, which is sometimes impossible to put into words. But through travel photography, we try to capture this essence. Years later a photo can kick-start our memories, take us back to a moment in time, and allow people who have never been there to visit a place through your picture.

Travel Photo Books
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