18 Travel Photography Tips

If you’re looking for travel photography tips, you’ve come to the right place. Taking photos during a road trip isn’t quite the same as taking them in a well-lit, well-equipped studio, so you’re in the right to look for a few tips and tricks to apply to your travel photography. We gathered the best techniques, cheats, and settings that will make your photos look┬áimpeccable. Without further ado, let our guide to travel photography teach you the basics.

1. Invest in a Digital Camera

Your vintage rangefinder might be ultra-hip while you’re at home, but once you’re on the go, you’ll appreciate the automated settings and digital image capacity of a DSLR. Who wants to fumble with reels and polaroids when you’re standing on the summit of a breathtaking mountain?

canon digital camera

2. Pack the Right Gear

There are a number of camera accessories that can help you take clearer, sharper and higher-quality photos, including:

Flash units
Tripods and monopods
Rain filters

Before you open your wallet, however, make sure that you’re buying compact or travel-ready gadgets. A bulky tripod won’t fit into your suitcase, but a collapsible one might.

3. Take Advantage of the Sun

Are you unable or unwilling to tote around a bunch of lighting equipment for your next vacation? Then take advantage of the sun’s natural rays. As many travel photography tips will tell you, “golden hours” and “blue hours” from sunrises and sunsets are great times to get out the camera.

picture from plane at sunset

4. Protect Your Camera

It’s easy to lose track of your belongings while you’re on the go, so take some precautions during your next trip to prevent things like theft and damage. Register your camera with its manufacturer. Write down its product serial number and insurance information. Embed your name with your EXIF data.

5. Use Your Camera’s Panorama Settings

Most digital cameras come with a “panorama setting” that will assist with the creation of gorgeous, extra-wide shots. While it won’t actually take the pictures for you, it will preview your photos and stabilize your exposure levels so that your final images will overlay without noticeable differences in color, light, and angle.

sunny lake panorama

6. Go Wide

Speaking of panoramic photos, you can capture more of the scenery in a single shot when you invest in a wide-angle camera lens. Look for something that measures 14mm – 28mm. The lower the number, the wider the perspective, so 14mm is very wide while 28mm is only moderately wide. You should probably stick with moderate until you’re skilled enough to handle something more extreme.

7. Fill Out Your Flash

If you’re taking photos on a bright, sunny day, your camera might assume that you don’t need any flash and auto-adjust your settings accordingly. You might have to trick it with a “fill flash” if your subject is still dark or covered in shadow. This is a common technique in outdoor photography, but it’s relevant among tips for travel photography, too.

photographer using flash filler

8. Consider Your Timing

If you want a solitary portrait of the beach, you’ll need to go early or late in the day to avoid the noontime rush of families, couples, joggers and dog walkers. On the other hand, if you’re deliberately trying to capture the bowing heads of kimono-wearing guests at an ancient temple, make sure to wander by during peak visiting hours.

9. Scout Your Locations

This is one of those travel photography tips that you wouldn’t even think of unless you already had experience showing up at a waterfall and finding it iced over for the winter. Never take your venue for granted. Always double-check that it’s open, accessible, clean, safe and ready to be photographed.

photographer scouting location

10. Do Your Homework On Techniques

Travel photography techniques come in all shapes and sizes, so if you’re a fan of a particular effect, you’ll need to research how it’s done before you actually hit the wild. For example, light trails are created with a manual focus and low shutter speed. Star photography will require different ISO settings than cloud photography. Close-up photos, or “macro” photos, might need a special macro lens.

11. Make Mistakes With Composition

It’s a truth universally acknowledged by photographers that your favorite techniques will be discovered by complete accident. Instead of adhering to travel photography tips as gospel, throw out the rule book and have fun with things like light, color, and composition. Who knows when you’ll stumble on something amazing?

plane flying above

12. Stand Your Ground

A well-rounded photograph has three distinct elements: a background, a foreground, and a midground. Many travel photography tips will focus on the former, but the latter is equally important. What rocks or flowers stand out? Which of the buildings are creating ugly shadows? What trees provide a sense of scale?

13. Fit Everything Into Your Carry-On

Checked luggage is tossed and stacked with little regard for the delicate instruments that may be inside. The only real way to ensure the safety of your camera and its accessories is to keep everything in your carry-on bag. If you’re over the weight limit, sneak some filters into your pockets; as long as you’re careful, it’s no riskier than checking them.

leather suitcases

14. Watch for Glares

Reflective glares are second only to red-eyed family members in terms of “how photographs become ruined.” If you’re wondering how to take good vacation photos without these kinds of issues getting in the way, you’ll need to invest in something like a polarizer. It’s a special filter that can be attached to your camera to reduce the reflections of sunlight on shiny surfaces like pools and mirrors.

15. Adjust Your Angles

One of the easiest travel photography tips is to change the angle of your shot. Instead of pointing and clicking from an upright, human-sized perspective, try something new, fun and different. Get on the ground and slither like a snake. Use a selfie stick to take photos from an aerial perspective. Tilt your camera at an incline.

photographer photographing cliff

16. Keep Yourself Juiced

This is one of those things that’s so obvious it isn’t always included in travel photography tips. Always pack your charger! This goes for phones, cameras and rechargeable batteries alike. You might also want to throw a travel adapter into your bag if you’ll be going somewhere overseas with different prongs and voltages in their electrical outlets.

17. Embrace the Night

You’ll need to be careful with nighttime photography since the rules about aperture and shutter speed are completely different, but if you have any experience with low-light settings, nighttime vacation photos can be a unique way to remember your trip! They’ll also give you the chance to explore your destination in a way that most tourists never do.

night travel photography

18. Understand the Limits of Post-Processing

Programs like Lightroom and Photoshop are essential for photo editing, but they can only do so much with low-quality source material. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that everything can be fixed with post-processing software. If your picture is too exposed or too corrupted by noise, it’s a wash, and it’s better to know that while you’re still on location.

These are just a few travel photography tips and tricks that you might find useful while you’re driving, flying, sailing or backpacking. Have we forgotten anything important? Are there vital travel photography tips that we’ve neglected to include in this post? Share your own knowledge in the comments!

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