When you’re on holiday you will often see things that will make you think, wow that would make a great photograph. But actually capturing a decent picture of what you see can be easier said than done. Whether you are exploring the bustling streets of a vibrant city or immersing yourself in the tranquillity of nature, taking good travel photos allows you to create lasting memories and share your experiences with others. If you want to improve your travel photography and come back from your trip with better pictures then keep reading.
Here are 13 top tips on how to take good travel photographs when on holiday.
Importance of good travel photos
Good travel photos have the ability to transport viewers to different parts of the world, evoking emotions and inspiring wanderlust. They not only serve as a visual record of your travels but also enable you to relive those moments and share them with your loved ones. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced photographer, investing time and effort in improving your travel photography skills is always worthwhile. By capturing the essence of a destination and telling a story through your images, you have the power to create a lasting impact.
How to take great travel photos
1. Capture local elements
Most destinations around the world will have unique elements. Such as landmarks, unique vehicles, clothing, food, people, culture and other interesting features. To capture really good holiday photographs then think about what makes your destination different, and then try and include that in your picture. This might include framing your scene so that it includes some of these elements. For example, in London you may want to include the Changing of the Guard, Black Cabs or Double Decker buses in the foreground of your pictures and then a landmark in the back.
2. Shoot in different light
Lighting can have a massive impact on how nice an image will be. Such as taking pictures around sunrise or sunset might result in a photograph with beautiful, soft and colourful light. It’s worth noting any good spots for taking pictures around this time and a good App to use to know the position of the sun throughout the day is PhotoPills.
Next, make sure you plan to be in position a little early so that you have time to set up and also to capture photographs in a variety of light as the light changes.
If you share your images on social media you may find pictures that have this kind of lighting tend to do really well.
You could also shoot and capture silhouettes such as seen below. This is where the light parts of the image are exposed whilst the darks are not.
3. Capture the main attractions
Everyone likes to take pictures of the main attractions when travelling, such as the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Tower Bridge in London and the Colosseum in Rome. These are often the killer shots that will also make for great engagement on social media. To capture better images of these think about your composition, framing, and also consider taking pictures at night when the building may be lit.
4. Photograph the lesser-known attractions
As well as the main attractions, try and capture some of the less obvious ones too. These may be smaller buildings, interesting bridges, markets, secret spots and other things.
As you explore you may find interesting things to shoot, or instead do your research in advance. Such as looking online at articles on what to see and do, asking your hotel and locals, or even friends and family who may have previously visited the destination. For popular places, you may find articles that tell you where all the best photography spots are or just search “best photography spots in [destination] on Google or another search engine.
5. Take pictures of details
Some destinations have incredible details that really help identify that destination or make it extra special. These may be things such as carvings, monuments, building facades or interesting shops. For example in some middle eastern countries they often have beautiful shops selling colourful lamps, rugs and other special items, whilst in Vienna you’ll find impressive statues and monuments.
6. Use reflections and puddles
Not many people want to travel and have a wet and rainy day, but actually you can get some of the coolest images during these types of conditions. Using puddles and reflections in your pictures is a great way to take better travel photos and can aid your composition and create a really interesting shot. So keep an eye out for opportunities as you explore.
7. Take Pictures at night
When taking pictures at night, use a tripod and a low ISO setting (if possible). This will ensure your picture isn’t grainy and much higher quality. If you don’t really want to take tripod shots, then try investing in a camera that can capture good low-light photographs, such as the Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II. Some phones are also good at capturing low-light photographs without the image quality being degraded too much.
To try and avoid blur and handshake when not using a tripod then put your phone or camera on a hard surface. You’ll probably find the camera will need to take a slightly longer exposure in low light but that is expected.
8. Show crowds and atmosphere
Taking pictures in crowded places can be a nightmare. But you can sometimes use this to your advantage when capturing travel images. It can help as you can show the atmosphere and the mood of the destination. If you don’t want lots of people in your image then arrive early in the morning, or try and be patient and wait for a good opening/quiet moment to take your photo.
Another option is to use a strong ND (neutral density) filter and a tripod to blur the scene, this gives a nice sense of motion too. You can read more about ND filters further below.
9. Take photos of food
One of the best things about travelling is some of the delicious food you’ll get to try. A lot of which you may only be able to get in the particular destination you’re visiting. To take photographs of your food use a wide aperture or “portrait mode” on your camera. This will help isolate your food with a blurred background. Another option is to take the image from above looking down. Finally, consider getting a table outside or near a window in natural (but shaded light) which will help you capture a much nicer image without horrible harsh shadows.
10. Capture events
Many large cities will have interesting events and festivals throughout the year. These may provide the perfect opportunity to capture the culture of the destination. Such as Holi in India, Notting Hill Carnival in London and Carnival in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. When taking pictures of festivals consider taking pictures from high perspectives to really capture the crowds, wide shots, as well as close-ups of the people and entertainment.
If your event is in the evening then either use a flash (if possible) or set your iso higher (or to auto). A high ISO may introduce grain to your image but should still allow you to capture the moment which is sometimes better than no shot at all.
11. Put yourself in the photograph
Putting yourself in a travel photograph can help to capture a great memory, and is also nice to share with your friends and family. Including yourself in your pictures is a top way to take good travel photos and can also make them a lot more interesting too. The best way to capture such images is to find a nice frame/composition and either use a tripod or a friend to capture the picture for you.
12. Photograph from high viewpoints
High viewpoints can provide some of the best perspectives of a destination and will allow you to capture fantastic photos. Many destinations have caught onto the fact that many people want to see a place from up high and as a result have created observation decks all over the city. So, when travelling do a little research to find out what kind of viewpoints your destination offers and make sure you don’t miss out.
13. Use ND filters to take long daytime exposures
ND (Neutral Density) filters are an essential tool for long daytime exposures, allowing you to capture motion and create unique effects. These filters reduce the amount of light entering the camera, enabling longer shutter speeds. By using an ND filter, you can capture the movement of waterfalls, rivers, or waves, creating a smooth and ethereal effect.
Experiment with different types of ND filters, such as graduated or variable ND filters, to achieve the desired results. Keep in mind that when using ND filters, it is important to use a tripod and compose your shot carefully to avoid any unwanted movement during the long exposure.
Understanding your camera and equipment
Before heading on your photographic journey, it is essential to familiarize yourself with your camera and equipment. Read the user manual and experiment with different settings and features. Understanding the technical aspects of your camera, such as aperture, shutter speed, and ISO, will give you more control over your images.
As well as this, pick a good quality travel tripod to ensure sharp and stable shots, especially in low-light conditions. Remember, your camera is just a tool, and it is your creative vision that brings life to your travel photos.
Researching and planning your shots
To capture good travel photos, it helps to research and plan your shots in advance. Familiarize yourself with the destination you will be visiting, and learn about its culture, landmarks, and unique features. Look for inspiration from other photographers or travel magazines to get ideas for interesting compositions.
Take note of the best times of day for capturing different scenes, such as sunrise or sunset for stunning golden hour shots (PhotoPills can help with this).
By having a clear vision of what you want to capture, you can make the most out of your time on location and increase your chances of getting outstanding photographs.
Editing and post-processing your travel photos
Editing and post-processing are crucial steps in the journey of travel photography. They allow you to enhance the visual impact of your images, correct any imperfections, and bring out the true essence of the scene.
Start by organizing your photos and selecting the best shots. Use editing software like Adobe Lightroom to adjust the exposure, contrast, and colour balance.
Next fine-tune the white balance, vibrancy, and saturation to bring out the natural beauty of the scene. Experiment with different presets or create your own signature style to add a personal touch to your photographs.
Sharing and showcasing your travel photos
After putting in the effort to capture and edit your travel photos, it’s time to share and showcase your work. You could do this by creating an online portfolio or website to display your best images.
Use social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, TikTok or Flickr to reach a wider audience and connect with fellow photographers and travel enthusiasts. Participate in photography competitions or submit your work to travel magazines and websites.
Consider printing your photos and framing them for display at your home, at exhibitions or selling them as prints.
Sharing your travel photos will allow you not only to inspire others to explore the world, but also to create a platform to receive feedback and grow as a photographer.
Taking good travel photos requires a combination of technical skills, creativity, and a deep appreciation for the world around us. By understanding your camera, planning your shots, and using composition techniques, you can capture stunning images that tell compelling stories.
Embrace the diversity of people and cultures, experiment with different lighting conditions, and don’t be afraid to venture into the night. Utilize ND filters to create long exposures and learn the art of editing to bring out the best in your travel photos.
Finally, share your work with the world and inspire others to embark on their own photographic journeys. Remember, the key to taking good travel photos lies in your passion, curiosity, and willingness to explore. Happy shooting!
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