Level up with these easy and simple travel photography tips
No matter how advanced we think we are, it’s always nice to refresh the basics sometimes. I know that I personally need to strip things back and reinforce the foundations from time to time. So no matter what point you’re at in your photography journey, spare a few minutes out of your day to skim though these 5 travel photography tips.
1) Having the right equipment for the job
This has nothing to do with megapixels, cost or brand of camera. It’s all about having the right camera for the job.
This is one of my favourite photography quotes:
The best camera is the one that’s with you – Chase Jarvis
It’s especially true for travel photography as you’re limited by what you can travel with. There’s no point in having a huge DSLR and a range of big heavy lenses if you don’t carry them around with you. Or worse, you do carry them around but can’t be bothered to put down the camera bag and get them out at the end of a long day.
I know I’ve been there. An opportunity presents itself but the hassle of getting everything out and setting it up deters you from taking the shot.
Make sure you have what’s right for you.
For me that means mirrorless, specifically the Fujifilm X series range. The camera bodies are small, lightweight and take up minimal room in my bag. And unlike the Sony A7Riii for example, they aren’t full frame so the lenses are just as small and lightweight.
Only you know what is best for you though, so make sure your needs are met. After your needs have been met then go for whatever system will be the least hassle and easiest to travel with.
2) The 6 P’s
To be a successful travel photographer the old saying from the marketing industry applies perfectly.
Proper Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance.
It’s funny, but it’s true.
As travel photographers we don’t always (hardly ever) have the luxury of local knowledge so researching and planning a shoot couldn’t be more important.
Most of the time you’ll be going somewhere you’re not familiar with and often you’ll have limited time there. You need to try and visualise the images you want to come away with in your head otherwise you’ll end up running around like a headless chicken.
Your biggest assets here are Google and Flickr. Search for the destination you are going to and see what other photographers have been shooting there. Google street view is a good tool to use if you want to go on a virtual tour of the area before actually getting there.
Don’t copy what others have done, simply use it as inspiration and to point you in the right direction. Also you can get apps that tell you in which direction the sun rises and sets in different places, super helpful for landscape photographers.
By planning your shoots it will also help you decide what equipment you are going to need to take with you.
Remember, coming away with a handful of well thought out photos is much better than coming away with hundreds of average photos with no real substance to them.
Take time over composing your images. Composition and planning go hand-in-hand, you’ll find that most of these 5 travel photography tips complement each other like this.
Let’s use an evening sunset shoot as an example.
If you’ve planned it out well then you should know exactly which direction the sun sets in and at what time. This means you should be able to arrive early enough so you have time to set up and really focus on composition.
The exact composition you go for is completely up to you, that’s all part of the creative process. But if you give yourself enough time to try different angles out then you’re going to stand a better chance of nailing it.
Use the rule of thirds, or don’t use the rule of thirds. Landscape or portrait, it really doesn’t matter. What matters is you’ve given yourself enough time to come up with what you think looks best.
If you are really struggling with composition though, then making use of things like leading lines and anchors are good places to start.
4) Tell a story
An image speaks a thousand words. Which is true, especially when you get it right.
It doesn’t have to be a super complex story, it just needs to provoke a reaction in someones mind. It could be something as simple as a candid photo of a person going about their daily life in an unfamiliar environment.
For example, instead of just taking a photo of a marketplace try to include a human element like in the photo below.
Adding a human element is maybe one of the easiest ways to get people to empathise with an image.
5) Post production
Not everyone has the same opinion when it comes to editing images but whether you like to spend a lot of time in Lightroom or prefer to use it as little as possible, sometimes a little basic editing is needed. Especially in travel photography as you can easily make small mistakes that need correcting.
It’s easy to let little mistakes creep in in the spur of the moment, let’s face it nobody is perfect.
It could be something as simple as slightly underexposing an image or not quite getting the horizon level. These are easy fixes that make the world of difference if you correct them.
Personally I hate landscapes that have an uneven horizon, it’s so easy to fix that it just shouldn’t be a factor in anyone’s photography.
Hopefully these 5 travel photography tips have helped, even if it’s just to remind you of the basics…
Can you think of anything that should be added to the list? If you can drop your suggestions down in the comments below, I’d love to hear them.