6 Tips for Better Travel Photos
Photography is a favorite activity for many travelers, and with good reason. Having photos from your travels will ensure that you’re able to having something visual to remember that places you’ve visited, and of course, to show to friends and family. Photography is also a great activity that can be a lot of fun when you’re traveling to new locations whether it is a big city, a small town, a quiet island, or a wide open national park.
If you’re a traveler that enjoys taking photographs during your trips you probably at some point have been interested in getting a little bit more out of the quality of your photography. With that in mind, here are some simple tips.
1. Research Your Destinations
One thing you can do that will have a big impact on your photos is to research destinations ahead of time. Rather than just wandering around taking photos of whatever you happen to see, find a few key spots or locations that you want to photograph. It could be a building, a monument, a place where locals congregate, a great location to see a sunset, or anything else.
If you do some simple Google searches about the best photography locations in a specific destination you will find a lot of helpful information. There are countless forums and blogs where people have posted their own tips about great locations for photos, and this can be really valuable information. As an example, a few years ago before I visited the Grand Canyon I did a search for the best spots for photography and I came across a forum recommending Shoshone Point. It’s a spot that you probably wouldn’t find unless you were looking for it. It’s in the national park and there is a trail leading to it, but it’s not really marked and you need to hike for about 15 minutes to reach it. The view is spectacular and rather than being surrounded by a few hundred other people at one of the major spots, I was surrounded by about 5 or 6 other people for a great sunset at Shoshone Point. If I hadn’t researched ahead of time I never would have known about it.
Another thing I like to do is to do a search on Flickr. If I’m going to be in a particular city I’ll just search the city’s name and sort the photos by the most interesting (one of the options on a Flickr search). You’ll find some cool photos and most of them will have a name or a description that tells you where it is. You can then find out where it is with the help of Google Maps or GPS. This is also a good method for finding ideas for creative photo. You can try to recreate the photos that you like, which can help to improve your own photography skills.
2. Get an Early Start
The hours just after sunrise are possibly the best for photography. While most other people are still in bed you can get out and start your day by taking some beautiful photos. Not only is the lighting best at this time of day, but if you’re in a popular or crowded location you’ll have a better chance of avoiding those crowds by getting out early. If you’re traveling with family or friends that don’t share your interest in photography, you can get up and out early, and you can probably get at least 1 or 2 hours of photography in and still be able to meet up with them at the start of their day.
3. Try Different Perspectives or Angles
Popular attractions tend to be photographed from the same perspectives and angles by most visitors. If you want to come away from your trip with some interesting photos, try to find some new perspectives and angles for your shots. It may mean walking off the beaten path, finding a building with a window or balcony where you can shoot from, or some other creative way to get a new view.
4. Get Some Time on Your Own
I mentioned that by getting out early you can avoid the crowds. Even if you are not getting out at sunset it’s still helpful to have some time away from your traveling companions, unless they share your interest in photography. If you can get some time away from your traveling companions to can be less distracted when you are trying to find great photo opportunities. Set aside some time specifically for your photography and you will see much better results than just snapping photos while walking around with your friends and family.
5. Stay Within Walking Distance
If possible, choose hotels or resorts that are within walking distance of some your key photography locations. This makes it much easier to get out for a sunrise or to get an hour or two on your own to focus on the photos.
6. Carry a Lightweight Tripod
Most amateur photographers never consider using a tripod, and most professional photographers wouldn’t think of not carrying a tripod. If you are shooting in low light situations (like dusk or night), shooting indoors, or shooting landscapes, having a tripod can help you to get sharper photos. Having a tripod can also help with your photo composition because it forces you to really consider what you want in the shot rather than just snapping away quickly. The key to a good tripod for travel photos is weight. You don’t want to be carrying something that is very heavy, because you’ll wind up not even taking it with you if that is the case.
Travel photography is something that most people can easily improve on with some simple efforts. If you want to get better photos you can get off to a good start by making more of an effort in these areas.