Travel photography is no different than regular photography except that it can pose more potential challenges. While traveling, you have limited time, equipment and awareness of your environment. This difficulty can be overcome with creativity, but it’s also good to be prepared. Whether you’re a professional photographer or just want to capture beautiful photos of a weekend getaway or longer journey to Africa or New York, here are a few travel photography tips to help you get great shots.
Travel photographers start working before they even arrive at their destination. Once you know where you are going, start looking into what you will want to photograph. Following the crowds will only get you so far. Use search engines or social media to look up other people’s images of where you plan to visit (travel bloggers typically post great articles about places they’ve recently visited) or flip through a National Geographic magazine to see where professional travel photographers are going and what they’re capturing. Think about how you might get a different perspective on it or what different angles you can shoot from to get that perfect shot. Take a deeper look into what could be off a beaten path by using resources like Google Earth. Create a shot list of anything you feel like you must capture.
You need to go in knowing that what you envision will be different than what it is actually like. Crowds, timing, and weather may all stand in the way of your perfect shot. If you’re traveling with a partner or a group you will also need to understand your limitations and know their priorities and tolerances. Do your best to be early. Also, feel reassured that great photos can be taken in anyplace if you have the vision. Make sure you leave some unscheduled time just for wandering. Finding the unexpected is often easiest when you have an open mind.
As I say in my photography course, light and fast will keep you happy and fresh. Everything you bring should be lightweight, small, and ideally multi-purpose. Spares are also important, so bring an extra battery, memory card, and cleaning cloth. Know your photography gear and do not bring anything into the field that hasn’t been tested at home. The best camera and the best gear will ultimately be what you’re most comfortable with and have used before. Whether you’re a professional or amateur photographer it’s a good idea to sharpen up on your photography skills before your trip — things like the rule of thirds still applies abroad!
Finally, know what you want to share through your photography. Look to answer this question, “What is life like here?” by being curious and thoughtful. Successful travel photography brings others into the world that you visited. Maybe that’s capturing local people as well as natural wonders. Good travel photography has its own voice and perspective. Learn and then share through the stories that your photos will help illustrate.
Good luck and enjoy your travel photography adventures!