Tips on How to Take Better Travel Photos


Suggestions from an newbie travel photographer on the right way to take higher travel images.

I’m solely an newbie photographer, however over the previous 5 years as I’ve traveled the world as a digital nomad, I’ve acquired numerous good compliments about my photograph’s, each on social media and in our newsletter. I’ve even had some requests for recommendation on the right way to take higher travel images.

So I figured it was time to share a few of what I’ve discovered about travel photography.

Associated learn: Street Photography Gear (Including Best Street Photography Camera)

I use Pixels for my travel photos
Personally, I’m an enormous of fan of Pixels for the standard of their cameras.

The way to take higher travel images

Don’t fear: this isn’t a super-geeky information about fancy cameras or the right way to use apertures or f-stops. As a result of, frankly, I don’t know what an f-stop is, and I take pics with a Pixel 4a.

Which brings me to our first subject.

Digicam vs Telephone

The extra severe I grew about my travel photography, the extra I agonized over whether or not I must be utilizing a correct digital camera quite than my Pixel telephone. I did an excessive amount of analysis and got here away with these conclusions:

Digicam telephones have made big strides through the years by way of high quality. Frankly, what most digital camera telephones can do immediately is extraordinary.

However! They’ll’t do the whole lot. Even immediately, zooming with a telephone digital camera doesn’t produce the very best quality. So if you happen to’re hoping to be an expert photographer or take completely professional-looking footage, you’ll in all probability wish to put money into a correct digital digital camera.

However! These telephones could be very costly. And complex to make use of. On high of that, you’ll virtually actually find yourself needing completely different lenses, tripods, and different tools. This may all be a bit overwhelming.

What’s the take-away? Get a digital camera in order for you, however there’s completely no disgrace in merely utilizing your telephone both. The way in which I see it, the very best digital camera is the one you may have with you while you actually wish to take an image. And your telephone might be all the time going to be with you. Simply sayin’.

I would get a correct digital camera one among lately. However I’m not planning on it any time quickly.


The “composition” of a photograph is the way in which through which you organize and body the objects within the photograph.

Severe photographers say some of the necessary features of composition includes one thing referred to as “the rule of the thirds.” That’s while you divide your image into 9 equal sectors utilizing two horizontal traces and two vertical traces. These imaginary traces will help you body your objects.

You too can consider the outdated Brady Bunch opening credit, besides with out the Bradys.

How to take better travel photos using composition
Me, left, The Bradys, proper.

You may assume that placing the central object within the middle of the photograph is finest, proper the place Alice is. And it may be! However that can be a bit static or boring.

So think about placing your object within the left or proper column, particularly aligning it on the intersection of the imaginary traces — proper between Jan and Alice, and even Carol and Greg.

By placing your topic at one of many intersection factors, you permit room for the viewer’s eyes to maneuver across the picture and discover the image, quite than merely trying on the topic and transferring on.

Additionally necessary to composition are “main traces” and “symmetry.” Bear in mind after I stated you shouldn’t middle the objects in your photograph?

Generally you must, particularly if you happen to can benefit from some component that focuses the photograph. Main traces, just like the stone path and partitions within the photograph on the left, under, draw the attention to a selected level. In the meantime, symmetry is when completely different parts in a photograph match or mirror one another.

How to take better travel photos using symmetry
Main traces and symmetry!

With regards to composition, all these parts can come into play directly: the Brady Bunch rule, symmetry, and main traces.

Greater than something, although, your photograph is dictated by what you’re taking an image of. What would make the photograph as attention-grabbing as attainable?

As an illustration, an image of the Acropolis surrounded by the “symmetry” of some timber is likely to be fairly cool. However what about if there’s an outdated Greek man standing in entrance of it? He turns into a “main line” on to the Acropolis, however he’s additionally positioned off to at least one aspect, between Cindy and Mike Brady, to make the composition extra attention-grabbing.

A travel photo of a man standing and looking at the Acropolis in Athens, Greece
After taking dozens of images of the Acropolis, I noticed this older man and knew an image of him trying on the Acropolis was THE image.

Additionally, all the time think about the angle you shoot issues from. My knees HATE me for it, however I’m consistently crouching down so I can shoot up at one thing. Heck, I’ll usually lie flat on my again in an effort to get the image I would like.

That is normally the purpose the place my husband Brent pretends he doesn’t know me.

And getting all the way down to your topic’s stage can actually assist seize a greater sense of who or what they’re, whether or not they be kids, canine, or flowers.

Sitting in shorts in scorpion-infested Texas scrub in order to take this picture…may not have been my most brilliant idea.
Sitting in shorts in scorpion-infested Texas scrub in an effort to take this image…could not have been my most sensible thought.

Lighting/The Golden Hour

With regards to lighting, right here’s a rule that’s fairly agency: the sunshine is normally finest at dawn or sundown. Mid-day means the solar shall be straight overhead, and that mild could be harsh. It might probably make objects look flat and fewer engaging.

The time shortly earlier than and after dawn and sundown is known as “the golden hour,” as a result of it’s, nicely, golden. The sunshine is softer because it has to travel via extra environment. That causes it to be extra diffuse and hotter with numerous reds and golds. Golden hour mild can also be kinder to pores and skin tones, and it creates numerous attention-grabbing shadows.

Alas, the golden hour isn’t a complete hour lengthy. All of it is dependent upon the time of yr due to planetary orbits and ellipses and different scientific-y issues that make my head damage.

Usually, I’ll rise up earlier than daybreak to get these ten valuable minutes of excellent lighting. That is one other time when Brent may faux to not know me, besides he’s normally again in our residence, sleeping.

Then once more, if nice images had been straightforward, everybody would take them.

Take photos during golden hour for the best light
This lighting is extra valuable than precise gold…

One more reason I go for the morning golden hour for pictures? As a result of even at common vacationer sights, I usually have locations virtually totally to myself. I get higher footage and I get a greater expertise with out having to struggle the crowds.

So right here’s one other essential newbie photographers’ tip: when you’ve taken your images, put aside time to easily savor the expertise.

My favourite morning golden hour moments up to now?

  • The highest of the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, the place, after taking my images, I simply stood and took in that superior view of Rome.
  • On the Charles Bridge in Prague the place I froze my butt off to seize the mist rising off the river.

One different word concerning the golden hour, both at dawn or sundown: clouds could be both your finest buddy or your worst enemy.

Clouds sitting proper on the horizon can block the rising or setting solar, ruining the whole lot. Or if they’re the suitable peak they will catch the rays, turning spectacular reds and golds and even purple if you happen to’re fortunate, all whereas reflecting the sunshine again to the bottom and doubling their influence.

The light of the setting sun reflecting off of the bottom of clouds in Split, Croatia
The sunshine of the setting solar reflecting off of the underside of clouds in Break up, Croatia.

Folks matter

Landscapes are stunning, however you already know what are all the time my hottest images on social media?

Photos of me and my husband.

Which is smart. Folks actually are attention-grabbing — and Brent at the least may be very good-looking. And if you happen to’re an newbie travel photographer, you’re in all probability most keen on taking footage of you and your pals anyway.

That stated, the period of selfies is kinda over. So think about all of the above methods when taking footage of individuals too.

Travel photos with people
The creator on the left, his husband on the suitable.

Oh, and right here’s a tip on the right way to get probably the most pure smile out of your topic: inform them not to consider intercourse. That just about all the time will get amusing.

Do I Should Edit? Plus, What’s JPEG vs RAW?

You don’t wish to must “edit” your pics, proper? I didn’t both. I admit at first I used to be a bit fearful of the know-how.

However don’t be. If I used to be in a position to grasp what I’m about to inform you, you possibly can too.

If you go into the superior settings of your telephone’s digital camera, there’s a place the place you possibly can select whether or not you need your digital camera to save lots of your pics as both JPEG or RAW recordsdata.

These are settings that decide how a lot info the file created by the digital camera’s picture sensor retains of every photograph.

If you happen to select JPEG, your digital camera will routinely do some very fundamental processing and mean you can do some additional fundamental enhancing to make your images look a bit nicer.

Simply not that a lot nicer.

However while you shoot in RAW, you should use enhancing software program to take all of that further info captured by your digital camera to edit your photograph.

I’m certain greater than as soon as, you’ve taken an image, checked out it, and thought, “Huh, that isn’t actually nearly as good as I believed it appeared.”

Which is since you’re virtually actually taking pictures in JPEG.

Check out these two images.

Tips for editing your travel photos
About thirty seconds value of enhancing helped give this image much more life.

The highest pic is type of blah and doesn’t actually pop. In the meantime, the colour and readability of the second photograph is approach higher. The picture is far crisper.

That’s as a result of you probably have the RAW file — which I did — then you should use enhancing software program to regulate the publicity, distinction, colour saturation, and fairly a couple of different issues.

And, no, you aren’t “dishonest.” All you’re doing is what skilled photographers have all the time carried out. (However you are able to do it badly, making images look over-saturated or over-contrasted. A part of what makes a photograph “good” is that it captures actuality. That ought to all the time be the aim.)

You are able to do some enhancing in your telephone, or in Google Picture. There are additionally free enhancing apps like Snapseed. Personally, I take advantage of Adobe Lightroom, which prices me $10 USD a month, as a result of I like the extra choices, and since it’s really easy to make use of and comes with nice tutorials.

However truthfully, even somewhat enhancing could make a world of distinction.

Amount can imply extra high quality

Questioning the right way to take higher travel images? Take a lot of them. The extra you are taking, the extra you’ll have to select from. And the higher a photographer you’ll turn out to be.

Guess what number of footage I at present have in my Adobe Lightroom folder proper now?


And that is solely the variety of edited images. The entire variety of pics I’ve taken is…nicely, I don’t wish to say, as a result of Brent will learn this text in some unspecified time in the future, and I wish to preserve believable deniability.

You completely don’t must take this many images. I’m type of a nut.

However as with every ability, the extra you follow, the higher you’ll turn out to be.

Extra suggestions for taking higher travel images

Listed here are a couple of extra issues I’ve discovered on the right way to take higher travel images:

  • Transfer round as you are taking your images. Greater than as soon as, I’ve thought I’d taken all the very best pictures — or thought the topic was too boring to make a superb image — solely to maneuver up or down, or sideways, to find a brisker angle.
  • Analysis a location forward of time. I admit that I’ll go to Instagram and get hold of pics of various places I is likely to be keen on. Or I’ll Google “finest place to take footage in Amsterdam.” There’s nothing incorrect with benefiting from the work of others. Even if you happen to go to the identical spot to take a photograph, all kinds of issues shall be completely different: the sunshine, the climate, and so forth. It’s straightforward to discover a approach to make the photograph your personal.
  • Simply stroll. When Brent and I arrive in a brand new location, we try the “well-known” spots pretty shortly. However then we discover. And that’s normally the place I get the great things.
  • Even if you happen to don’t do a lot (or any) enhancing, at the least think about cropping your footage. Cropping allows you to repair some errors, transfer your topic to a kind of intersection factors, and convey parts out in your photograph that you simply won’t have even recognized had been there.
  • Develop your “photographer’s eyes” and all the time hold them open. Actually, I feel photography has helped me take a look at my environment way more carefully. And now I all the time discover surprising alternatives for nice images in every single place.
  • Take the shot when you may have it! Greater than as soon as, I’ve been out strolling about, seen one thing I wished to take an image of and thought, “Oh, I’ll get that later.” Besides after I return, the sunshine is incorrect. Or I can’t keep in mind the place I used to be within the first place. (This occurs extra while you rise up earlier than daybreak lots!)

Crucial tip of all

Take the photographs you need for the explanations you need.

You’re in all probability not studying this text to turn out to be an expert photographer. As amateurs, we take travel images as a result of we take pleasure in it, and to seize our reminiscences of the locations we’ve visited and the folks we all know.

Certain, you’ll in all probability share your images on social media, however nobody will recognize them the way in which you do. They’re your reminiscences, in spite of everything.

Keep in mind that. Do that for you.

As for remainder of my recommendation, use no matter sounds helpful and ignore the remaining.

Michael Jensen is an creator, editor, and one half of Brent and Michael Are Going Locations, a few touring homosexual digital nomads. Subscribe to their free travel newsletter here.

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