It’s one thing to have the passion to travel the world, it’s another to have an aptitude for photography. There were many times throughout my explorations where I wished I had prepared myself with a few photography tips before arriving. You don’t need a professional camera now to produce wonderful and emotional images - just grab your cell phone camera or your cheap disposable camera and you’ll still be able to make use of these tips. Forget about bringing home blurry and off-centred photos, use these 8 easy travel photography tips for a gallery full of Instagram-worthy images.
1. Shoot during the *Golden Hour*
Even if you’re not quite sure what exactly the ‘Golden Hour’ is, you’ve likely already found yourself taking more pictures during these times throughout the day than you would otherwise. The Golden Hour is those perfect moments just before sunset and just before sunrise where you’re able to catch those beautifully lit photos of people, places and things across the world. Make sure you’ve prepared your camera to point away from the sun so that it’s the focus point of the picture being caught by the rays. There’s no better light than this golden natural light.
2. Make use of a tripod
As much of a pain it can be to carry your tripod around with you everywhere you go, it’s certainly worth it to take steady and centred photos. There are also other options out there today that are much smaller, compact and easy to pack in your day pack. Consider using a Gorillapod and latching it to trees, poles and any other solid surfaces you can find - get creative with it. Or may be one of those selfie sticks that double up as a tripod too.
3. Apply the Rule of Thirds
This might take you back to learning how to paint in middle school using the foreground, middle ground and background. Use the same approach while taking photos and ensure that you find your focal point. Using the gridlines that are often displayed on newer cameras today to adjust your photo while including all important elements along the gridlines. The idea behind lining all important aspects along the two lines is that the entire photo will look well balanced and more natural.
4. Embrace the scenery before your shoot
While many travellers enjoy the simple ‘point and shoot’ method of snapping their photos, try taking a step back, relaxing and embracing the scenery before you take your shot. Not only does this serve a purpose to help you find the best focal point, but you’ll likely realize that you find interesting people, places and things that you wouldn’t have thought to photograph in the first place. Take this as an opportunity to really embrace your travel experience as well. There are far too many people in this world who run through their travels without actually taking the time to sit back and relax.
5. Use different settings
Of course I’m talking about playing around with your sport settings, black and white settings and portrait/landscape settings that you’ll quite quickly find on the top of most newer cameras, but I’m also talking about playing around with the aperture, ISO and shutter speed settings. Aperture can help you focus one element in a photo or blur out the background. The ISO setting can help you measure the amount of light that is exposed to the photo. The shutter speed settings allow you to photograph speed - you can capture your favourite athlete running past you, or the birds flying past your window. All of this takes practice so don’t be afraid to try it out.
6. Inclusion of people, places, things
Keep the photo alive and interesting by including people, places and things. If you can get a mix of it all, even better! By including people, places and things, it allows the viewers of your photo to get a better understanding of the environment you were surrounded in and what may have been taking place. This allows the photo to express more emotion and display a story that the viewers can understand.
7. Have fun with it!
One of the most important things with photography is to have fun with it. Forget rules sometimes and play around with what you think looks great. This is where you’ll learn your own new skills and you can often find out things about your camera and photography skills that you never thought possible. You are the photographer, it is your story so make sure you always keep it personal.
8. Create size comparisons
Whether the background or setting is phenomenally large or incredibly small, using another object or person as a comparative in the photo allows the viewers of your photo a real understanding of how big or small the place, person or thing really is. Create that size comparison by having someone stand next to the Eiffel Tower or on top of Mount Kilimanjaro to really express to your viewers how large the setting really is. Place the pin size beetle in your hand or next to a coin to express how small the creature is in comparison to your hand or coin.
Get started now!
Take a few of these tips or take all of them on the road with you and start having some fun with it. You’re never going to get to know your camera until you practice. Nothing is more frustrating than when you find that perfect shot and just cannot capture it on the camera. Imagine experiencing the magnificent Northern Lights and not being able to change your ISO settings to really capture them on camera. If you can take a few of these tips away with you while you’re travelling, it will help make a huge difference in the quality of photos you are able to produce.