Tips for Great Travel Photos
Do you love the idea of capturing your travels in photos, but feel you can’t compete with snaps you see on Instagram? Here are some tips that will help boost your photography skills and bring home beautiful visual souvenirs of your travels.
1) GET TO KNOW YOUR CAMERA
Nowadays, you don’t have to have a fancy camera to take good photos. Even smartphones have so many different camera settings! Before you leave on your trip, take some time to experiment and learn what your camera can do. You can watch tutorials online if you’re just a beginner. Play around with settings like aperture, shutter speed, and exposure - using depth can create really interesting shots, too! By the time you are in the midst of the action, you’ll know automatically what will suit the moment best.
2) WHAT TO PACK
Wearing clothes in a contrast colour can make a picture pop
If you want to look stylish in your photos, consider the locations you’ll be visiting. What outfits are appropriate, which colours will the backgrounds have? For example when visiting Mykonos with its white and bright blue tones, wear a bright red dress, as that really pops in photos. Also take accessories (hats, sunglasses, cute handbags) - they’re great for adding variety to your outfits without adding too much extra weight to your luggage, and give you something to do with your hands while being photographed.
If you’re headed somewhere cold, make sure you pack fingerless gloves or ones that can operate touch screens and warm clothing so you’re not distracted by discomfort when the magic moment for a photo comes!
Take a tripod - especially if travelling solo! There are great ones on the market that can be used as as a selfie stick, too - yes, they don’t have the best reputation, but they help you get more of the background in and take shots from different angles! Ideally get one that has flexible legs that you can wrap around things, in case there is no flat surface to attach them to.
Be sure to bring a portable charger for your phone, as using the camera uses a lot of battery! Take sufficient memory cards if you bring a camera.
A good ankle to consider in Angkor Wat. Source: Unsplash
Check hashtags for your destination on Instagram and look at pictures that appeal to you. Which angles have others chosen, which poses really work, which locations did they snap pictures from? Snapping a picture of yourself climbing onto a Lisbon tram, for example, can be really cute.
This tip goes beyond photography, though. Before you leave on your trip, have a sense of what there is to see. There is nothing worse than visiting a place, and in the next town hearing other travellers talk about this amazing thing that you’d never heard about and that it’s now too late to see.
This is one benefit of going with a group like Indico Travels. Our guides are walking encyclopedias that have already curated a list of must-see sites, and can answer any questions you have or tell you how to get to something you’re dying to photograph.
Pro tip: a guide can also tell you when a site will be swarming with tourists and should be avoided. For example, when we visit the temples in Angkor Wat, we make a point of avoiding the masses so you can get photos as if you had the whole place to yourself.
It’s not a secret that the best hours for taking photographs are just before the sun rises or sets. Often called the “golden hour,” there is a warmth to the light when the sun goes down. The “blue hour” is that magical time when you get up and everything is quiet and has an ethereal glow. At these times of day, the light will do a lot of the work for you. We’ve taken gorgeous pictures on our sunrise boat tour of a lagoon in Vietnam!
Sunrises are amongst the best times to take a good photo! Source: Unsplash
At other times, work with the light. If you’re in a bright place, try heading into the shade; if indoors, position yourself near a window. Have the sun behind you so that it shines on what you’re photographing. If you have too much shadow or the image is too dark, try shooting it again. As long as the lighting is good, you will be able to edit it later if necessary.
And then there are the most impressive of lights: the Northern Lights are notoriously hard to capture! On our Winter Wonderland trip to Lapland, your aurora hunting guides are experienced at photographing them and will give you tips on how to snap your own shots of your once-in-a-lifetime experience.
This picture was taken by our traveller Luisa Klotz on her Lapland trip with us!
5) COMPOSITION BASICS
If photography is not something you’ve done often before your trip, a few solid tips on composition will help you take some extraordinary pictures.
First of all, think about including items in your shot to give views a sense of scale. If you come along with us to the Himalayas, you can put the size of the mountains in perspective by including a fellow traveller or an animal in the picture. This can also help break up a picture that is mostly landscape by giving it a detail or pop of colour.
Details, such as this woman walking, are important to consider. Source: Unsplash
If a person or animal is the subject of your photo, leave plenty of space around it so it really stands out. You can also experiment with not placing your subject in the exact centre of your frame. Try thinking of your picture as divided into thirds, and placing the subject on one of these lines instead of directly in the middle. Even phones have a grid which will divide the frame into nine parts so you can easily visualize how to use this rule when composing your picture.
Once you point, but before you click, take a moment to look beyond the subject of your photo and take in the whole display screen to see what will be included in your picture. There might be something cut off in the background, or an interesting detail that you could include by shifting your angle slightly.
While it’s tempting to zoom out and try to include as much of the landscape as possible, don’t forget to zoom in as well. You can create some really interesting photos by getting up close to the textures of a landscape, showing the intricacy of the vegetation or smaller details that are only visible when you are there.
6) THINK OUTSIDE THE FRAME
A nice idea can be adding a detail or a significant object to your picture. Source: Unsplash
Even if you’re just starting out with photography, you still have your own style and way of looking at things. Resist taking a quick photo from the same place everyone else is. Consider the possible angles that might make what you’re photographing even more interesting, or represent how it is affecting you in the moment that you’re there. Zoom in, or zoom out. Climb to a higher point, or crouch down low.
The benefit of thinking of photography in this way is that it also forces you to be present, studying new ways of looking and how the essence of your experience can be conveyed in an image.
7) ASK PERMISSION
This is a tip we can’t stress enough—no matter where you are, ask permission before capturing people in your photos. You might see someone in another country doing something you think is fascinating, and not want to spoil the spontaneity by asking if they would mind be photographed. It doesn’t matter, always ask first! Not only is taking someone’s photo taboo in many cultures, it’s also just basic respect.
Keep good energy and use your camera as a way to introduce yourself and chat with local people. Even if they don’t want to be photographed, you’ll have opened yourself up to an authentic encounter more valuable than any image.
If you’re into portrait photography, we organise a 5-day photographer’s hike into the Nepalese mountains, where we have set up meetings with Sherpas and mountaineers that are happy to have their photograph taken.
Locals are the best subjects of your portrait photos. Source: Unsplash
A wonderful way to relive your adventure is to dedicate time to editing and browsing through your photos. So that your photos don’t get lost on your phone, we recommend getting a photo book of your tour printed. You’ll find plenty of providers online, make sure to check independent reviews or ask your friends which ones have good quality images in their experience. Then you can simply upload all your pics from the trip, and their app will do a large part of the work in sorting them in the book. It’s a good idea to do this fairly soon after your trip, so that you really get it done!
9) FIND A COMMUNITY
You might not want to be Insta-famous, but travel photography is still a wonderful way to tap into a community of people with similar interests. You can find other travellers, or even use hashtags to see what photo-worthy places people are checking out in an upcoming destination. This is great inspiration before you set out to see a place for yourself!
There are so many great Instagram accounts capturing stunning pictures of their trips, and you can join their ranks and appreciate vistas vicariously while you wait for your next adventure.
10) PUT THE CAMERA DOWN
It might seem like odd advice when talking about photography tips, but if you obsess too much about seeing things through your camera or getting the right shot, you might miss out on what is right in front of you. While it’s understandable to want to capture as much of your travels as you can, don’t let that get in the way of actually being there. Take a moment to leave your camera packed away and enjoy everything you’re seeing all around you.
Ready to take some stunning photographs? Remember to have fun and not stress about getting the perfect picture. It’s all part of the experience that you’ll have as you discover new landscapes and people.
Enjoy the ride and beautiful landscapes around you as well! Source: Unsplash
Some of our trips are great for photographers, experienced and new, such as our getaway to Portugal where we explore the street art in Lisbon and wander through picturesque Sintra.
Take a look at our upcoming tours for people in their 30s and 40s and get ready to capture views that have to be seen to be believed.