Travel photography tips

Travel photography tips

The phrase 'travel photography' conjures up images of buddhists in temples in Thailand or riotously coloured festivals in Delhi, but actually 'travel' just means to go from one place to another. And photography is just capturing the experiences you have.

Whether you're travelling half way around the world or two hours to a beautiful spot by the coast it's still wonderful to have great photographs to look back on. But how can you make sure you return home with images you want to share or even print, rather than some poor quality snapshots that don't do your trip justice?

Travel photography is a great way to practise your camera / phone skills as it covers so many genres: landscapes, portraits, food, low light, street photography and more. Read on for my tops tips on how to make the most of your trip.

Planning, even just a little, can make a big difference. 

Think about what made you pick this particular place to go to. Was it the scenery, the culture, the food, the wildlife, the people? 

On a recent holiday to Morocco I was excited to capture the textures and colours of the buildings, the fabrics, the cookware and crockery and of course the food. So I made this my focus wherever I went.

Do a little research too. Find out which places you'd like to go to photograph and where to avoid. Could you find some places more off the beaten track so that you don't just photograph the same scene as every other tourist. Check the local customs and laws regarding photography. Consider hiring a guide to take you to places off the beaten track.

Check the weather forecast and use an app to tell you what time blue hour (just before sunrise and after sunset) and golden hour occur, so that you can plan to photograph in beautiful light.

We gave our taxi driver a tip and asked him to take us somewhere high up so that we could capture this view of Agadir on the way back from the souk.

Keep a travel journal

Take a notebook and make travel notes in it. It's surprising how quickly you forget what you did each day, especially if you're on a longer trip. Record your first impressions when you get somewhere new: the sights, sounds, smells. This will be a big help if you decide to create a photo book or a blog about your trip.

Get up early and stay out late

Not only are you likely to capture great light but also more of local life. Many places come alive early in the morning, shops are opening, streets are cleaned, locals are out and about, chatting, shopping, going to work. If you want to rest take it in the middle of the day when the light is harsh and people are eating or resting themselves.

Capture beautiful sunsets but stay out afterwards to photograph the night life, cityscapes and night skies.

If you're travelling with a big group head out by yourself occasionally to explore. Don't be afraid to get lost (being mindful of your safety of course) and wander up alleys and tracks away from the crowds.

Sit at cafes and watch the world go by and watch out for interesting scenes and people.

Always have your camera or phone with you, as you never know what opportunities may arise.

This is the view from our accommodation just after dawn. The clouds are lying in the valley, making everything look mysterious and the light is soft. The clouds cleared every day to reveal the sea sparkling in the distance.

Photographing night skies might not be your thing but give it a try. Look up the settings on Google and use a small tripod that you can rest on a wall or table. This isn't my best ever night sky photograph but it brings back amazing memories from evenings spent on the roof terrace.

Take 'environmental' shots of your family and friends

Instead of taking snapshots of the people you're travelling with, try to include some of the surroundings / environment that you are in. Make it a shot that you love of them but that also shows where they are. This makes for a more powerful image as you are documenting your shared experience and also telling a story.

Travel back in time to 2012 and west by a few thousand miles and this is my family on the beach in Florida. A lovely little moment that also captures where we were. How white is that sand!? It also looks very hot and it was! The shadows (or lack of them) show you that it's midday and scorchio.

You can also include people in a scene to show a sense of scale. The beach here looks vast as it stretches away from my gang.

There's a lot I haven't covered in this post and glaringly obvious are travel photography gear and techniques. If you enjoyed this post watch out for part two and sign up for the newsletter where I share recent blogs and lots of camera and phone photography tips.

If you want to improve your photography ahead of your trip take a look at my workshops Get Off Auto and Phone Photography.

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