11 Travel Photography Tips to Capture a Destination Fully

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Our little ‘ol planet is a pretty fascinating place floating around in the cosmos. With so many places to go, people to see, and experiences to live, the desire to put them all in our pockets drives us collect pictures. Millions of them. The challenge often is how to shoot the best pictures while being present and enjoying the moment at the same time.

“Photography is not about the camera,” Ami Vitale writes in Explora. “It’s not even about the beautiful images we create. It is about telling powerful stories and capturing memories. ”

In this blog post I will show you how you can do this with some great photography tips from the best photographers in the world while you travel around the world. 

To make stunning images you nowadays don’t need a professional and expensive camera anymore. Almost every phone has a good quality camera that allows you to make some great pictures. There are many great articles about how to make great pictures with your phone.

Making pictures with your iphone
Photo credit Andika

To get the most out of your holiday be aware you are not hopping from one place to another, click your camera, and off you go again. Remember why you are making pictures. Often, because you want to capture that moment and a great memory so that when you see the picture you wonder off again to that precious experience.

The most memorable moments of your travel often include the local people you meet, at least that is my experience. Your trip will get much more value if you immerse into a local culture and have the courage to connect with the local people. This will often provide you also with the best photography opportunities. Below some tips how you can do this.

Be respectful

Travel keniaWith this in mind it will help you get to know a community with deeper meaning than merely being another picture snapping passerby. To stay mindful and sensitive while collecting images, especially when photographing people when you travel, will open new doors.

Get to know the locals

Connect with people while travelingThey’re not a subject nor a breathing artistic medium, they’re human beings. This isn’t still life, this is real life. Taking time to experience the culture you’ve chosen to immerse yourself in is important to actually understanding what you want to photograph. Put the camera down, put the phone down, walk around and talk to people. Immerse in the culture for a day or two and learn some phrases in their language. Making eye contact with people, smiling, interacting and being jovial is the key, says David Lazar a world-class photographer. A smile says more than thousand words.

Ask for permission

Travel photography tipsBefore you snap a photo of a person or scene, show respect to your setting and the people in it. Ever have someone come into your workplace and stick a camera in your face because they think your culture is interesting? No, because that would be rude, awkward, and out of place. Ask before you start taking pictures and you will see how people open up, which gives you the opportunity to take even better shots.

Be patient

Travel photography tipsAs a photographer you need to be patient to wait for the right moment. It takes some time to understand the culture and let the people get familiar with you. Best is to travel solo or with fellow photographers.

Bag your bias and open your mind

We all have biases and it can be tough to recognize and curb them. Do your homework before even getting to where you’re going. Squashing bias and preconception will make you look at something new as a blank canvas, allowing it to change you. You, in turn, can take your newfound point(s) of view into the photos you take and experiences you choose.

Create a sense of depth

Tips for travel photography
Photo credit Jorgo Kokkinidis

Creating a sense of depth when photographing landscapes put an object or person in the foreground. It will emphasize how far away the distance is.

Use simple backgrounds 

How to photograph people
Photo credit Jorgo Kokkinidis

When you are photographing a person it is best to choose a plain background so that the eye is drawn to your subject.

Create motion

Panning technique
Photo credit Andhika Soreng

Sometimes it is difficult to capture a moving subject. To solve this you can use the panning technique. Choose a shutter speed around two steps lower than necessary – so for 1/250, we’d choose 1/60. Focus your camera on the subject with your finger pushing half way down on the shutter, then follow the subject as it moves, and take the photo when ready. In this video they will explain how you can do it.

Shoot in the golden hour

Photography tips
Photo credit Jorgo Kokkinidis

The best light for taking a picture is about a one-hour after sunrise or before sunset. This is called the golden hour.

Use the rule of thirds

How to capture people on camera
Photo credit Jorgo Kokkinidis

To make a picture more aesthetical you can use the rule of thirds. It simply means that you have to imagine four lines, two lying horizontally across the image and two vertical creating nine even squares. Many camera’s nowadays provide this feature in the camera. Now place the subject off center at one of the intersecting points.

Random is as random does

Best travel photography tips
Photo credit Jorgo Kokkinidis

Travel is loaded with unpredictable happenings. The same is true of your photography. You’ll never be able to plan out every shot, just as you’ll never be able to plan the beautiful variability of nature and human behavior. Let scenes play out in front of you, focusing on being in the life of your pictures, allowing them to form before your feet and eyes.

Make the ordinary extraordinary

Best photography tips
Photo credit Jorgo Kokkinidis

Not every picture taken needs to be a grandiose encapsulation of all the colors of the wind. The most commonplace things, often overlooked, are diamonds in the rough. Remember that you’re in a place that’s not your slice of daily regularity. How do people live differently? What are unfamiliar things that seem familiar to the people you’re around? Build extraordinary stories through the ordinary.

These tips are little more than being a decent human being who happens to be wielding a camera in another country.

By exploring a new place with camera in hand, you will visit and revisit those experiences time and again. While walking around, moments tend to pass by in a blur, but when you pause to capture them (and focus), you make time still (and pictures clear). These moments of stillness will become memories as you look back on your travels. They’ll be the absolute best memories when you’ve taken the small investment of time it requires to absorb culture before you click. This way, years later, pictures will be a more moving experiential tale than “I went there years ago…”

When you’re traveling, don’t just go places, live places; do that and they’ll live with you in memory and photographs.

For more information, this is another resource regarding Travel Photography – How To Blend Your Passion With Profession, worth reading.

What are your tips for making the best shots?

Related posts

Leave a Comment

About Us

We are a group of like-minded travelers who want to make a difference via travel. We are always looking for the off the beaten track places with a local touch. At the same time we want to contribute to the beautiful people who are living in the countries we travel to, share our knowledge and connect people worldwide.

– Sanne Meijboom, Founder

Subscribe to our newsletter