There is no excuse for terrible travel photos. When the number of images you can take is only limited by the gigabytes on a memory card and the battery life of a camera, there is simply no excuse for missing out on creating stunning photographic memories from some of the most exciting moments in your life.
This how-to guide is not going to tell you to “remember a spare battery,” to “get lost” or any of those common sense tips for taking better photos. This guide will give you the fundamentals of taking great photos, and focus on the things that even good photographers most commonly forget, or don’t know to do.
Plan your destinations
Research the best spots for photos. Instagram is a brilliant research tool for sourcing great photo locations, with plenty of examples of the types of photos you can take once you get there. Come up with a definitive list of 5-10 spots for solid photos that you know are going to look great no matter what.
Always have your camera in hand
The best photos are most often the serendipitous and spur of the moment ones where you think afterwards, wow it’s lucky I was holding my camera. It can be a pain to always be carrying something but the reward is often worth it in the end. You’ll also find you take a lot more photos than if you were to only pull your camera out of your bag for specific moments.
Keep the sun at your back, frame your subject so that no limbs are being awkwardly cut off and are positioned in a third of the frame. Often it is easier to move yourself to adjust the framing, then it is to ask your subject to move. Don’t hesitate to take physical steps to get closer/further away or to find a different angle.
Not another Google stock photo
While it’s nice to have images of particularly beautiful or significant buildings and landscapes, the element that will make your images stand out against all of the other stock standard Google images is the people in your’s. Endeavour to include your travel companions (and yourself) in your images as much as possible.
Don’t shoot at eye level
This might sound odd but by always taking a photo at different levels either by crouching right down to the ground or standing on something, it will give you a more interesting perspective. It will also make your images more dynamic and give the viewer more of a sense of being present in the scene or like being a fly on the wall.
Get up early
For the most impactful photos of famous landmarks you won’t want to see other tourists hovering around in the background and the only way to avoid this is to get to the most popular sites early. If you have ever wondered how the best travel bloggers and photographers get those incredible photos in front of the Taj Mahal or the LACMA Urban Light Sculpture with no other tourists popping up in the background? They are up before the crack of dawn not just for the best light but so they can capture these stunning images with no background distractions.
Tell a story
Everyone takes photos of the typical touristy things like statues, mountains, transport, temples, buildings, airports, hotels etc. but we often forget to photograph the little things that remind us how we were feeling or the little moments that make up the trip like the funny buttons used on the toilet or how everyone in the restaurant was using their hands to eat.