We are living in a world where technology allows us to take our phones out of the pocket and take pictures of anything in front of our eyes. This feature in smartphones and also the uprising number of light and easy-to-use digital cameras, made it simple and fast for us to accumulate memories in our daily life and also when we travel.
Traveling means to know new places, new cultures, new everything. All the new scenarios and fresh views in front of our eyes makes it the perfect setting for us to point our cameras everywhere and shoot, shoot, shoot. But do we pay attention when we are taking a picture? Do we really observe the subject in front of our eyes? Or we just look at it it in the viewfinder? And is it quantity better than quality? Well, I think we all know the answer.
In this post I'll give you 10 simple tips to improve the quality of your travel photos and, at the same time, to be able to truly enjoy the place you are visiting.
1. Learn to observe
As I already mention above, you should always have a look of your surroundings before pointing your camera. Look around, have a general view of the place you are, pay attention to details, see what catches your eye, and only then, shoot. This will help you to be more selective and will improve the quality of your photos.
2. Escape the obvious
When traveling, we often visit famous and touristy places, where thousands of pictures are taken everyday. The same subject being registered by millions of people over and over. So what can you do to make your photo different from all the others? Remember item 1, look around, watch the movement of people, the placement of things, the colors. Re-think, re-imagine and capture your own perspective of what you see. But for you to have your own perspective, you also need to have your eyes and mind trained, and for that, you need references, subject of item number 3.
3. Have references
Good photographers didn't start shooting stunning pictures since the beginning. They studied, studied, practiced, studied and practiced. And I'm not talking just about technical stuff and knowing how to deal with equipment. They have references, a database accompanying them in every picture they take. That being said, do your research! Search for photographers, study the way they work and observe their pictures. Be inspired! Building your references will impact positively in your pictures and will help you to build your own photography identity. Your pictures will be unique.
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4. Pay attention to lines and shapes
When taking photos, observe and try to capture leading lines. Like this, you value your shot by drawing attention from the viewer to what you want to focus.
Also pay attention to the horizon line. It should be straight in most cases. You don't want your beach picture to look like the ocean is pouring diagonally to one side, right?
In architecture, you can also take advantage of leading lines, but make sure other lines are straight. For example, when shooting a building, observe if the structures are vertically straight so you can get a balanced result.
Playing with lines and shapes is also really fun and practicing is the best way to get your compositions improved. Focusing in details, in architecture, for example is also a nice away to explore the subjects and get great results.
5. Be an early bird and don't miss sunset
The light in early morning and in the end of the day are the best for shooting most things. In the golden hour, as it's called by photographers, you have subtle shadows and highlights hence you'll have more control over the setting of your camera, resulting in a pictures with better lighting and exposure.
In landscape photos, for example, the warm colors from the low sun are often advisable to exalt the colors of the scene.
Obviously, at this this time, you can also get great shots from the sunrise and sunset themselves. When visiting a new place, research for good sunrise or sunset locations ahead of time, so you can plan and don't loose the chance to have amazing pictures.
Waking up early and getting out with you camera is also a great way to explore and escape the crowd from tourists that are often found in famous locations. This will save you time, you'll get to know the place from a different perspective and your pictures are gonna turn to be so much better without the unnecessary crowd in your frame.
6. Know basic Photography rules and editing
Understanding basic Photography concepts such as aperture, shutter speed and ISO will definitively impact in the quality of your photos because instead of shooting on automatic mode, now you will have the control over the settings of your camera and like this, have the desired result. Knowing the rule of thirds and terms like depth of field, white balance and focal length are also a plus so you can understand like Photography truly works.
Getting to know how to edit pictures in softwares like Lightroom and Photoshop will allow you to fix and adjust exposure and white balance, do a better cropping or even play with hues and colors to enhance or give your picture a different impression or feeling.
7. Be patient.
Traveling is great and you get too see and experience a lot of new things. You are a visitor and so are all the other tourists. Touristy places can get really crowded and it can be really difficult to get your photo just right. Because of that, you'll have to exercise your patience and wait, sometimes for a long period. But in the meantime, you can look around, focus in details and look for other frames that would also work well. Use your creativity! Trust me, the waiting is worth it when you're able to get the photo just like you pictured in your head. The important thing is not to stress out and enjoy the place you are visiting.
8. Pack light and do bring extra batteries and memory cards
When traveling, just pack the essential in terms of equipment. Unless you have something specific planned, try to bring only what is really necessary. Many times I carried a lot of weight in my backpack bringing different lenses and just ended up only using one. You don't need to bring all the lenses you have and, if you are starting and don't own a lot of equipment, take advantage of what you have. Even if you have only a phone, you can use all these tips and shoot amazing pictures!
Do bring extra batteries and memories cards. In case of your phone, make sure it's backed up and that you have a power bank. You don't know when you will be able to charge your phone or batteries, so be prepared. You don't want to miss anything in your trip because of lack of space or because your battery ran out.
9. Invest in a compact, lightweight tripod
A small tripod is another essential item when traveling. They will help you in different situations, such as low-light scenes, videos and of course when you want to take a picture of yourself or with someone and no one is around to snap a picture for you. Nowadays in the market, there are a variety of travel friendly tripods available. If you use your phone to take pictures, there are also many options that fits in all kinds of places and can be attached anywhere.
10. Don't stop practicing
I, as a photographer, often take pictures with my eyes. I'm looking at something and suddenly, in my head I say "this would give a great picture". You can try it too. It's a great exercise to your photographic eye and also for inspiration.
Together with your references, practice! Take your camera with you and try to remember these tips. And, don't forget: Stop, look, frame it a and lastly, click!
I hope all these 10 tips help you to improve your travel photos. Shooting with conscience and focusing in quality will not just improve your photos, but will also save you time, space in your HD and you'll build a new eye to photography, in general.
Have you ever considered one or more of the items from this post while traveling and taking pictures?Tell me in the comments down below what are your favorite things to photograph when traveling and let me know if this post was helpful to you!