travel photography

15 Useful Travel Photography Tips

Travel Photography Tips

There is nothing more freeing or liberating than traveling the globe and getting to experience new and exciting horizons. This is not only why people love to travel, but why travel photography is one of the most popular forms of photography out there.

Travelers not only love capturing their once-in-a-lifetime trips with high-quality images, but many travel and photography enthusiasts also love seeing photos from all over the world as well. Whether you are looking to take better photos during your next upcoming vacation, or if you are interested in venturing into a career in the world of travel photography, this is a very special type and style of taking photos.

If you are looking for ways to better yourself as a photographer and really hone the art of travel photography, here are a few tips that can help take your current travel photos and transform them into something truly spectacular. Take a moment to check out these top 15 tips to help you with your travel photos.

white sands monument photography

Footprints in the sand. Shot on Iphone XS. Sometimes all you need is one camera and a phone.

1. Travel Light 

It is a rather simple tip, but one that bares repeating. If you are going to be a travel photographer, you need to be as mobile as you can. Sure, it would be great to be able to take as many different cameras, lenses, filters and accessories with you—but typically this isn’t possible or practical.

 You need to think ahead about your kit, what you are going to put in it and how much you can realistically take with you. Make sure that your kit is light and portable enough to go with you no matter where your travels take you—but that it still has all of your basics. Here’s what I recommend including in your kit:

  • One camera body
  • A handful of memory cards
  • A lightweight mini tripod
  • Portable storage unit
  • A flash unit
  • A couple of only essential lenses (if you can only choose one—go for a fast zoom)
  • Extra batteries, chargers, and power cords

2. Invest in the Right Camera Bag 

You know what you need to bring with you when you take travel photos, but you also need to make sure that you have invested in the right camera bag—it can make all of the difference in the world. I recommend one that evenly distributes weight over both shoulders, such as a backpack style camera bag.

You will want to pack all of your gear in the right camera bag, which should be durable, should fit over your shoulders and should be equipped to handle cold, sand, heat and water, so it can go with you no matter what weather you may face.

3. Be Prepared to Make the Most of Your Memory 

This is one thing that many travel photographers don’t think through completely before they head out. As a travel photographer, you are going to be taking once in a lifetime photos and you will want to make sure that you shoot in RAW and JPEG Fine, for more flexibility.

 However, this also means that you will need to have enough memory to back up all of these photos. Make sure to bring several high-capacity memory-cards with you and get in the habit of downloading your images to a photo storage device or laptop every night. There is nothing worse than running out of memory as a travel photographer.

Mapping out a route and planning ahead can save you a lot of time!

4. Research Destinations Ahead of Time

Scouting locations is important with any type of photography—especially if you are a travel photographer. You need to have a plan if you are going to be taking travel photos.

 Do your research, plan where you want to shoot, use Instagram and Pinterest as sources of inspiration and make an itinerary of where you are planning on going and what you are planning on shooting when you are there.

Bonus Tip: Use Google Maps to mark your spots and plot them out—it is a great way to plan a route for all of the places you want to see and to determine how close/far away they are.

5. Journal Every Day 

Travel photography can be extremely overwhelming as there is so much to see, capture and take in each and every day. It is easy to forget the things you see, and shoot and where certain images are taking place when you spend an entire day in a foreign land.

 This is why you should always bring a journal with you, and take down notes about where you are, what you are seeing and what you are shooting. Trust me, it will come in handy later on.

Griffith Park Sunrise

Shot at 400 mm from Griffith Park Over Los Angeles. f 32 to get detail from the sun

6. Plan Your Shoots Early in the Day 

In order to avoid tourists (more specifically avoid tourists getting in your photos) you will need to get up early and get a head start on your day before the average tourist does. The good news is, this is a great way to capture some of the best lighting of the day as well.

7. Get Creative With Angles

Even if this normally isn’t your go-to, feel free to be creative with angles when shooting travel photos. This is especially true if you are planning on taking photos of famous sites that have been photographed a lot before.

 If you want your shot of a famous landmark, say the Brooklyn Bridge, to look different than the ones you can see on a postcard, you need to be willing to think outside the box.

8. Practice, Practice, Practice

Before you get to your final destination, make sure to do some practice first. If you are planning on taking photos in a forest destination, take some practice images in the woods behind your house. If you are planning on shooting a certain shot at sunset, do some sunset photos at home.

 Make sure you have a strong grasp on your basics and do some practicing before you get to your travel destination, so you feel confident in your skills once you get there.

Enjoy the moments

9. Be Willing to Put the Camera Down

Sure, this article is all about travel photos, but you need to be able to put the camera down from time to time and to really appreciate where you are and the beauty of your surroundings. Trust me, it will make for a better travel experience, and help you connect more with the destination you are visiting—and that will absolutely be reflected in your final photos.

10. Try to Find a Hotel With a View

This is one of the best and easiest ways to get some unforgettable travel photos. If you can, book a hotel with a balcony or a view to take advantage of. This is a great way to get some beautiful landscape or cityscape shots, and it gives you the opportunity to set up your shot with less intrusions—some of my favorite travel photos were actually taken at sunset from a hotel balcony.

11. Give Yourself Plenty of Time

You need to build in plenty of photography time at every location you visit and try not to rush yourself. If you don’t give yourself enough time and are too rushed, you are going to end up with the same photos that everyone else has from their trip. Give yourself the time you deserve to take truly great pictures.

mexico cenotes

adding people to your photos adds a sense of realness to the frame.

12. Add People to Your Photos 

While you are going to want to try to avoid hoards of tourists while taking travel photos, it doesn’t mean that people can’t play a role in your pictures. Having locals in your photos is a great way to bring a human element to your pictures. It can help bring emotion to your images and tell a story with your photos.

 13. Be Patient

When taking travel photos, chances are you are going to run into quite a few obstacles. Rude tourists, poor lighting, uncooperative weather. All of these things can get in your way and prevent you from getting the photo that you want.

 Be patient with yourself and the situation. Rushing or giving up early is only going to be reflected in your sub-par photos. It isn’t worth it. Be patient. Soak in the scenery and really appreciate where you are and how lucky you are to be taking photos on this trip.

sunburst photography

Capturing the perfect sunburst can compensate for the midday photography blues… Be patient and look for the right angles

14. Shoot in Manual Mode 

Now is not the time to rely on your camera’s automatic features. While they can do a pretty good job—travel photos are not about being “pretty good.” You want your travel photos to be outstanding.

 So, before you arrive, take the time to really learn about your camera’s manual mode and challenge yourself to shoot on manual mode. The end results of your pictures will be totally worth it.

15. Get Lost

Yes, having a plan is important, but let yourself get lost while you travel. Go off the beaten path, wander around aimlessly. Once you’ve taken your planned photos, get lost in the place you are visiting and explore. In the end, these may be your favorite travel photos of them all.



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