Someone jokingly asked me, “If you take a trip but have no photos to share, did you really travel?”
Though there’s always a balance to everything and I never want to be glued to my camera, much of the fun in traveling is taking beautiful pictures to share! There’s nothing worse than witnessing a feat of nature, an experience of a lifetime, taking a photo and having it turn out…mediocre.
Follow these tips below to make sure you take the best pictures!
Choose the right gear
This is probably the most important step you need to take first for taking great photos! DSLR? Compact? GoPro? Lenses? Tripod? These will vary according to the type of photography you’re doing, and where you’re shooting.
For example, a high end DSLR paired with a wide angle lens is necessary for photographing the northern lights, or paired with a zoom lens for wildlife. GoPros are great for action shots and videos, or you may opt for a quality compact for everyday shooting, such as the Sony RX100.
Research the location beforehand
Chances are, you won’t get to hang around the location forever, so I recommend researching your destination before. Is it camera friendly? Is there a lot of light, movement, or external weather factors? What are the best angles, what potential issues must you plan for? This will help prepare you for when the time comes to shoot, and will help you get better travel photos.
For example, when doing photography in Antarctica there are numerous factors to consider. Low light, sea spray, salt and wind necessitate specific equipment.
Similar to the above, you can research the location on social media to get some inspiration for great travel photos! Instagram, Pinterest, or travel blogs are wonderful places to search.
For Instagram, I love typing in a hashtag with the place I’m going to, or find the geolocation and opening up the images taken there.
Get there before everyone else
The early bird gets the worm! I’m the farthest thing from a morning person, but friends will attest to my determination to get the best shot. For example, early morning has beautiful lighting, and I woke up at the crack of dawn to go shoot at Iceland’s black sand beach littered with ice. As the sun rose up from the horizon, it shot brand new streaks of gold into the ice, which contrasted beautifully with the black sand.
Especially if you’re shooting at a famous location such as Ankor Wat, timing your visit is vital if you don’t want to get a shot swarming with tourists!
Photograph at the right time
Photographers will rave about Golden Hour, which is one of the reasons why I love Iceland so much (winter in Iceland has incredibly long stretches of Golden Hour(s) and soft, muted lighting at each end.) Towards sunset, the light basks everything in a golden glow, adding warmth and vibrancy to your photos!
Alternatively, other places may be more stunning at a certain hour when the sun shines from a specific angle to avoid harsh lighting/shadows, or at nighttime if you’re doing astral photography or chasing the northern lights.
Aim for a unique perspective
If you’re visiting a known location, try to be different (as hard as it may be!) and get a picture that sticks out from the rest. Get low, high, close or far – these variations will help for more unique images.
Or go classic!
Sometimes there’s an angle that’s famous for a reason! Classic and unmissable.
For example, there’s a general spot where most photos of Machu Picchu are taken from. This is because 1. it’s able to show the scale and size of Machu Picchu perched on the mountaintops, and 2. geographical factors limit the ability to take photos from different angles.
Edit your photos
Whether you’re a pro and use Lightroom, or want a simple editing app, putting the final touches on your images is a vital step that allows you to take better travel photos. Just remember not to go overboard.
Feel free to share your photos below, and subscribe for more tips!