Best Photography Tips For Travelers
Taking great travel photos is an art that can only be honed with patience and practice. Great photos combine knowledge of composition, preparation, and an understanding of your camera, but by far the most effective elements in taking eye-catching images are creativity and putting your personality into your art.
Having been a professional travel photographer for over a decade, I’ve been in a million situations where I’ve had to draw on technical, personal, and logistical photography knowledge. Over the years, I’ve learned that a photographer’s style is constantly evolving and that sharpening skills take time and experience.
Drawing on my experience as a photographer, these are 20 travel photography tips you need to know!
1. Know Your Camera
Knowing the in’s and out’s of your camera and how to properly use it is incredibly important in taking great travel photos. If you have a new camera, I recommend watching some online videos about it, understanding the settings, and doing some low-stakes photoshoots at home before taking it out on the road.
2. Scout Photo Locations
Figuring out where you want to shoot before you leave home will not only save you time on the road, but it will also be essential in getting you some great shots. To stay organized with this, I always quickly jot down the address of each location, the distance from my hotel, and a quick note about what to expect at each location.
3. Pack Light
Packing light for travel photography means knowing the equipment you’re going to use and making the most of each piece. While it may seem enticing to bring many lens choices and all the gadgets with you, in reality, you’ll probably only use a few key pieces of gear. Not to mention, lugging around extra heavy equipment is never fun.
4. Choose the Right Lenses
Before you leave on your trip, think about the kind of situations in which you’ll be shooting. Will you be taking a lot of landscape shots? Will you need to take detailed shots from afar? Or are you more interested in street photography?
Knowing the style of photos you want to take will be essential in choosing the right lenses for your trip, and will save you from lugging around tons of lenses you’ll never use.
5. Shoot in the Right Mode
While using the icon modes on your camera can seem easy, in reality, shooting on modes such as sports, portraits, landscape, etc. will be limiting to your creativity.
Instead, shoot in modes such as Program (P), Aperture Priority (A), Shutter Priority (S), and Manual (M). Aperture priority mode is probably the most common of the modes among professional travel photographers, with the camera automatically setting the shutter speed, allowing you to just focus on the ISO and f-stop. From there, play around with the modes and see which one is most intuitive to you.
6. Don’t Overbook Yourself
Such as with traveling in general, you don’t want to overbook yourself as a travel photographer. Give yourself extra time in locations where you know you want to get great shots, and always account for lighting fluctuations, weather situations, and the timing of sunrise and sunset.
7. Bring a Tripod and Intervalometer
Traveling with a compact tripod and intervalometer are key components of taking photos with movement, night photography, and getting yourself in the shots. With these tools, you’ll be able to control the frame as well as how often and how many shots are taken without touching or moving your camera.
8. Get Up Before Sunrise
Sunrise is my favorite time of day for photography. Waking up early will give you great light and you’ll likely have your chosen location more or less to yourself. Just remember, if you’re not a morning person, be sure to give yourself lots of time to get up and out the door.
9. Plan Your Dinners Around Sunset
While generally a more busy time for photography than sunrise, I recommend planning your dinners around sunset — this will give you some beautiful shots with excellent lighting.
Look up when the golden hour will be in your location, and have your photography spot picked out and ready ahead of time. If you’re worried about crowds being in your photos, then research some off-the-radar locations.