Traveling to mysterious and exciting destinations can lead to some truly unforgettable experiences. And for most, it’s enough to see these sights and take commemorative photos that they can post on Instagram or Facebook. But others want more than that—they want to take breathtaking photos of the places they visit so that they can remember every aspect in perfect detail. They want pictures that perfectly encapsulate the experiences they had on their travels.
Now, most photographers know the basics of good photography, which usually involves proper lighting, composition, and adequate knowledge of camera operation. But if you’re still not completely satisfied with how your own travel snaps have been turning out so far, then you’ve got help right here. Read on below for practical steps you can take to enhance your travel photography.
Learn all about your destination ahead of time. Look up articles on the Internet for suggestions on the best shooting spots in that particular location, or perhaps ask your friends who have been there before as well. If you’re feeling ingenious, read travel guidebooks and plot your possible shooting locations—but take the following into consideration: time of day with the best lighting, best vantage points, and the time that particular attraction opens.
Know more about what makes your destination special so you know what to shoot in order to fully capture its essence. You may need to take along a travel tripod in order to capture some special shots – like the northern lights or star photography. Once you have all these details down pat, take note and create a concrete plan so that you know exactly where to go (and what time you need to go there) to take the perfect photos of your chosen destination.
Play with the elements in your frame
Experiment with your composition. Play with various angles and perspectives. Don’t be afraid to shoot from vantage points that give you a different view than the usual ones you see on postcards or travel blogs—don’t be afraid to get creative!
Also, try to vary the distance between you and your subject from time to time. Experiment with wide shots, mid-range shots, and close ups. You’ll be surprised at the difference it makes in your composition when you shoot closer, or from afar. It can also help set the mood you want for the image.
To make your photos look more interesting, incorporate texture as well. Pay attention to the foreground, midground, and background elements that you’ve included.
Give yourself ample time
You can’t rush art. Therefore, make sure you devote a good amount of time to shooting. Travel can be hectic, but if you want to take better photos, you have to make time for it. The more time you spend on getting just the right shot, the higher the chances you have of achieving exactly what you want. When you’re trying to capture scenes like that majestic pink and orange sky right when the sun is about to set, or a stunning view of snow-capped mountains, you’re going to want to take your time to ensure that you get the perfect photo.
Additionally, taking your time means you get to develop your skills even more. Now, if you need to wake up ahead of your companions or travel alone to avail yourself more time to fully engage yourself in the practice, then by all means do so. The fruits of the sacrifices you make early on in your travel photography journey will be worth it later on.
Or, if you’re lucky enough to have people around you who are avid photographers as well, try joining them for photo walks or out-of-town photography sessions. You’ll definitely learn a lot from it.
Learn to shoot quickly
While you need to give yourself plenty of time to take photos, you also need to learn how to shoot quickly. There will always be capture-worthy moments on the road that’ll pass you by in the blink of an eye, much like the happy smile of a local street vendor you’ve just made friends with or the sudden appearance of an exotic bird that could take flight at any moment.
To avoid missing opportunities like these, you must learn to be ready to shoot fast at all times. Make sure to program your preferred settings in your camera, or shoot in burst mode, so that all you have to do is pull it out your camera bag and click away.
Make your photos relatable and immersive
Make your audience feel as if they are living the experience captured in your photos by including a human element—but preferably without showing the subject’s face. This is so that when people view your photo, they will be able to focus on the emotions in the picture rather than on the face of the subject.
If you do it right, they’ll also be able to imagine themselves in the frame, experiencing the very same thing that your subject is experiencing in the photo.
Focus on the eyes for more impact
When taking human interest or wildlife photos, try to establish a focal point that will draw your audience into the picture. To evoke emotion and for maximum impact, focus on the eyes of the subject.
As they say, the eyes are the window to the soul, right?
Learn how to process your photos
Yes, you heard right. Editing is crucial if you want to take your photos to the next level, because no matter how good of a photographer you are, you will still be able to make your photos even better. In fact, many photographers now consider post-processing a vital part of their process.
And besides, experimenting with the color, light balance, sharpness, and other properties of your photo will allow you to create different compositions that you may prefer to the original.
If possible, use a DSLR camera like the Canon EOS 5D Mark III or a mirrorless so you can shoot in RAW. Shooting in this format will allow you to have more control over editing your images.
For editing, you can use software like Photoshop, Lightroom, and GIMP to achieve the look and effect that you like. Just don’t overdo it, or you risk having fake-looking pictures.
So there you go! Seven simple and practical tips that will significantly help you advance in your travel photography journey.