So, you wanna step up your travel photo game. Who doesn’t? We don’t spend thousands of dollars gallivanting around the world just to get there and take lousy photos of beautiful locations, am I right?! Now, I know travel is about much more than an epic Instagram photo. However, I also know that sharing adventures with the world (and primarily our friends and family) is super important. So, we should all strive to create travel photos that most accurately reflect our experiences – what we saw, felt, smelled, heard – in order to truly give them a sense of our travels. And, bonus points if they translate into that epic Insta photo, too. 😉
So, here are my top tips for improving your travel photos and upping your photography game!
Find the Pretty Light
Photography is all about light. In reality, if there were no light, there would be no photos. However, in order to create a truly epic photo, you must find truly epic light.
Look for light that is soft or glowy, often found during golden hour. Golden hour is the time of day just after sunrise or just before sunset, when the light is low and golden.
Also, look for light that is coming from behind or beside the subject. Side and back light make for beautiful light effects and interesting shadows.
Consider Your Composition
Composition is simply how you arrange your photo. What elements are in the frame and in what order are you arranging them? A strong composition will easily translate into a strong travel photo.
There are a few things to consider when you’re planning your composition for a photo:
- the rule of thirds
- leading lines
The Rule of Thirds: imagine a tic-tac-toe board running through your photo. The points where the lines intersect throughout the board are the perfect locations for your subject(s). In this instance, the horses are in the lower 3rd of the frame, and at the right third of the frame. Perfect!
Leading Lines: think of the things within a photo that represent lines. Then, try to get those lines to point to your subject. Here, the lines of the shelves and the lines of the mountains are all pointing in the direction of the subject.
Angles: consider the angle in which you’ll photograph. Here, I got down at a lower angle as to include the water in the photo. When arranging your composition, experiment with your height angles and width angles to find the best and most interesting viewpoint.
Silhouetting is a great photo technique that allows you to balance out the exposure of an image. If you want to photograph something in the shadows while also getting a good exposure of a bright background, simply make the object in the shadows a silhouette. This is a creative solution to a common problem when taking travel photos!
Pro-tip: When silhouetting a human, consider having them face the side so that you see the outline of their profile. This creates more shape and definition. If you choose to photograph them from the front or the back, ask them to spread their legs slightly and have some separation between their arms and their body, otherwise they’ll just look like a big black blob!
Don’t Forget Humans!
Photographing people is sometimes just as important as landscapes when taking travel photos. I mean, humans are the best representation of culture and energy in any given location, right?! So, resist the temptation to only photograph buildings, landscapes, etc. and step outside of your comfort zone to photograph humans. This will also give the viewer a sense of connection to the location, since they will be able to put themselves in your subject’s shoes and imagine themselves in that very spot.
Another bonus that humans photographed in epic locations is all the rage on Instagram right now!
Pro-tip: don’t pose people. Forget the duck-faced selfie and have your subject interact with the environment. Frolic on the beach or play an instrument or whatever your little heart desires. Just don’t forget the importance of natural interaction.
Be a Creep
Ok, don’t really be a creep – I don’t want you to get arrested. But, don’t be afraid to try out a little street photography! Street photography is a style of photography in which you candidly photograph people living their every day lives. See a woman on a motorcycle in China carrying 8 kids and a donkey? Photograph that ish! See some cave divers bathed in the most beautiful light while in Puerto Rico? You bet your ass I’m shooting that!
Remember the Little Details
One of my favorite things to photograph while traveling is the small details I find while exploring. Yes, epic landscapes are awesome, too. But, I really want to remember the smaller things that I found, ate, touched, etc. Getting up close and personal gives people a much more intimate experience with the environment, and with my travel photos.
Other Random Things That May Help You on Your Travel Photography Journey
- Scout out your locations beforehand using Instagram’s search function.
- Be sure to drop a pin or use GPS apps to mark your location so that you can remember where you were at any given time.
- Invest in quality equipment that will produce quality photos.
- Consider a wireless remote trigger if you want to get an epic photo of yourself without relying on the help of a stranger.
- Look around and up. Sometimes the best shot may be behind you, beside you, or above you.
- Don’t be afraid to photograph at night! Night shots, especially in the city, are pretty rad.
Do you have other suggestions for improving your travel photos? Share them with us!
Do you want some epic travel photos of yourself? Or maybe to learn a bit about photography in person? Join us in Puerto Rico June 5-11, 2017 for a week of sun, sand, eco-adventures, and photography! Visit our trip page for more details!
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