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The Secret To Taking Incredible Travel Photos

Taking pictures while travelling is a great way to preserve memories from your adventures. Unfortunately, not all of us are skilled photographers. As a result, many of the photos we take can fail to capture the magic of the moment. Below are a few tips on how you can up your travel photography game.

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Use Instagram for inspiration

For inspiration on how to take incredible travel photos, why not look at some photos from noteworthy travel photographers? Instagram is full of stunning travel photography – check out this list at Expert Vagabond of some of the top instagram travel photographers. You can get a good idea of how to frame photos by looking at other people’s snaps.

Just make sure that you’re not trying to create exact imitations of other Instagrammers’ photos – there’s no point taking the exact same shot from the exact same angle! You should also go easy on the cliche Instagram shots like hot dog legs or airplane window shots (especially if you’re trying to be Instagram-famous). 

Time it right

Travel somewhere at the wrong time of the day and you could end up with some underwhelming photos. Lighting can have a big impact on the quality of photographs, as can weather conditions. You should also consider how busy a place is likely to be at a certain time (visit somewhere like Rialto Bridge in Venice at the wrong time and you’ll be competing with hundreds of other photographers with cameras on selfie sticks). 

When travelling to a landmark or climbing a mountain, always check the weather the morning before to be sure that your views aren’t going to be ruined by fog or rain. Consider the location of the sun in the sky – it may be better to have the sun behind you unless you want your subject cast in a silhouette. For dramatic lighting, consider visiting locations early in the morning or in the evening. In most cases, the morning is the best time to beat the crowds.

Explore different angles

When taking shots of a landmark or a stunning view, consider exploring lots of different angles. The most popular viewpoints may get you some of the best views, but you’ll also get some of the most generic shots and there will be lots of other people in your way. Consider more unique angles to set your photos apart from the ones you can buy on postcards.

This could include capturing additional objects in the foreground like trees, lamp posts, food and drink or people. It could include hiking or driving to different points. In all cases, try to take multiple photos and then keep the ones that stand out. 

Photograph the locals

A lot of people make the mistake of taking shots without people in. This may give your travel photos a sense of emptiness. Don’t be afraid to take shots of some of the locals. This could include everything from market stall vendors to people crossing the road. 

When taking close-up shots, always ask the person for permission. It’s worth also taking photos of people you meet and talk to who leave an impression on you such as an eccentric tour guide or friendly waiter (again, ask for their permission when taking a photo). Such people can be more memorable than the places we visit, and yet we often never take pictures of them.

Think big and small

When taking pictures of our travels, many of us focus purely on the big attractions. However, sometimes the small details can have just as big an impression on us and can be equally worth photographing. 

For instance, when walking around a city, don’t just focus on the monuments and landmarks. Consider taking pictures of the quirky shops, the weird wall murals, the street entertainers and the odd vehicles you may see while travelling between major attractions. Make sure to also capture those unique moments with you and whoever you may be travelling with. For instance, when travelling with kids, try to picture those natural moments of them playing and eating – not just pictures of them posed in front of landmarks. 

Consider investing in some extra gear

In many situations, all you need is a smartphone to take incredible travel photos. However, there are a few instances where having some extra gear can help. Below are just some of the pieces of photography equipment that could be worth investing in to help take your travel photography to the next level.

Digital cameras

Smartphones can take some pretty high quality photos, but with a decent digital camera you’ll be able to take even better photos. DSLRs and mirrorless cameras may be more bulky than smartphones and less suitable for those fleeting moments, however they can be much better for capturing dramatic views and expressive shots of people. This is due to the ability to play with the shutter speed and add different lenses. Which digital camera is best for travelling with? This T3 guide offers a list of a few of the best digital cameras for travel photography.

Tripods

When you’ve got a lot of time to take a picture, it could be worth having a tripod handy so that you can take a more steady shot. If you’re travelling solo, you could also use a tripod for taking photos of yourself on a timer without having to ask someone else to take a photo or rely on a selfie (useful if you’re trekking somewhere alone). There are lightweight compact tripods that you can buy that are perfect for travelling with. 

Lenses

Experimenting with different types of lenses will help you to take more dynamic and exciting photographs. For those large landscape shots that you can’t quite fit into the frame with a regular lens, it can be worth bringing along a wide angle lens. For those long-distance shots of wildlife and buildings, a super telephoto lens can do the job. For those close-up shots of people and food, a macro lens could be great for adding extra quality. You can even try some more unusual lenses such as fish-eyes and night vision lenses. 

Drones

With a DJI drone, you can take breathtaking aerial shots. You can also take shots from unexplored angles, which could include incredible selfies from a clifftop or pier. It’s worth investing in a good quality drone that can take steady shots without being thrown off course by the slightest bit of wind. When taking shots with a drone, bear in mind that there may be restrictions in some locations – while drones are allowed in many national parks and remote locations, they are likely to be banned in urban areas or locations near to airports. 

Dashcams

Dashcams are ideal for a road trip. They sit on the dashboard of your car and are able to record video footage or take photos of the road ahead. All those perfect moments you might otherwise miss while driving can be captured with the help of a dashcam. There are lots of different dashcams on the market worth looking into – some are specifically suited to road trips

Action cameras

As the name suggests, action cameras are designed for action (the most famous example being the GoPro). They include handheld cameras, helmet-mounted cameras and cameras that can be attached to bike handles or surfboards. These cameras tend to be more durable and can help you to take photos hand-free while doing various activities ranging from diving to skiing. If you go on lots of active vacations, it’s worth looking into these cameras.

Strike a pose

You don’t have to take photos of yourself when travelling. However, if you do decide to take some selfies or let someone else photograph you, you may want to work on your pose. A great pose can help to capture the mood of the moment. This could be excitement, wonder or serenity depending on where you’re photographing. 

There are a few basic modelling tips worth following:

  • Avoid dead arms. If your arms are just hanging there by your side it can look awkward. Throw your hands in the air, put them on your hips, put them in your pockets or consider holding a prop.
  • Keep your back straight. Hunching will make you look unconfident and uncomfortable – you want to look proud and at ease in your travel photos. 
  • Capture the mood with your facial expression. If it’s a happy moment, smile. If you’re exploring somewhere with a darker history, you may want to keep a more solemn face. 
  • You don’t have to be facing the camera. You could ask someone to picture you from the back while looking at a beautiful view or hiking a trail to give a sense of perspective.
  • Dress to impress. Poor wardrobe decisions could lead you to be embarrassed by the picture afterwards.

There are lots of guides to travel photo poses online. You can also learn a lot from travel photos of Instagram models.

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