7 Essential Travel Photography Tips

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If one of your New Year resolutions was to get out more with your camera then we hope that this blog can give you some motivation to do so. With cameras becoming more and more compact, lightweight and affordable, travel photography has become very accessible to many. 

Now we’re not going to say that you need to be jetting off around the world on photography tours and workshops, taking photos of lusciously exotic landscapes and sensational Sahara sunsets because you can find real beauty in the towns, villages and cities near your own home. Take a walk outside of these urban landscapes and you’ll quite likely find that surrounding areas offer an incredible opportunity to capture wildlife and gorgeous landscapes.

We’ll take you through 7 essential tips on how to improve your travel photography in 2020.

Tip number one, tell the story.

Wherever your travel destination is, the location will have it’s own style, culture and feeling about it. Use these individual scenarios to help teach you more about how to take a photograph. Don’t snap away for the fun of it, think about telling the story of that destination, capture the history, the people and the landscapes. Allow yourself to be able to look back at your images and be instantly transported to that destination. 

If you’ve not captured any street photography before then let this be a bonus tip. Street photography lets you capture the culture but also teaches you to be patient and selective with your shots. Focus (no pun intended) on the architecture, the way people interact with their urban surroundings. Use high contrasting areas to make your images punchy and distinctive.

  • Street Photography by Craig Pitts
    Image by Craig Pitts Photography
  • Street Photography by Craig Pitts
    Image by Craig Pitts Photography

Tip number two, experiment with your gear.

If you’re a long serving photographer then you’ll know that GAS (gear acquisition syndrome) is a very real thing. We always seem to want to add more to our cameras bags so how about letting travel photography lighten the load. Set yourself a challenge to only take one lens with you. Pick a focal length that will assist you with taking the best travel photos, a 35mm is versatile and usually very lightweight or a classic nifty fifty could give you the opportunity for being closer to the action whilst not sacrificing the wide angle view too much.

If you like to lean towards the landscape end of the spectrum then a travel tripod may be an option you can’t go without. Similarly you may want to ensure you have a stash of polarizing filters or ND filters to hand to help ensure you capture those stunning sunrises and sunsets. Whatever your style relish in the challenge of going light.

Tip number three, be creative with composition.

You’re away from home with your main aim of seeing more of the world around you so you’ve got plenty of excuse to try something a little new. Allow this to seep into your composition by mixing things up a bit. If you have a natural style or feel to your photography, take the opportunity to try different angles, different edits or challenge the norm of the ‘Photography Rule of Thirds’. Photography is an art and is subjective, so try to create a new style for yourself, we can guarantee that you’ll either learn something about your camera or lens in the process and maybe even yourself.

If you read our last blog, 5 Photography Trends for 2020, you’ll know that going vertical is a very important progression (or regression for some perhaps) in our photography. As social media is essentially an online gallery for sharing and showing off our hard work, going vertical to ensure the most real estate across the likes of Instagram is very important in 2020. Grab an L Bracket that fits your chosen travel camera and try rotating your landscapes and street photography shots. This will push you to highlight different features in your images that you perhaps haven’t thought of before.

Tip number four, patience is king.

To capture winning images you’ll need to practice some patience. Take time to appreciate what’s around you. Are there clouds that could be forming to complete a powerful long exposure? Could there be an interesting subject that’s about to pass by your frame? Sitting still and taking in the surroundings and not pressing the shutter for the sake of it can really help you appreciate the location you’re in. 

  • Street Photography by Fiona Cole Photography
    Taken in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire
  • Street Photography by Fiona Cole Photography
    Taken in Worthing, West Sussex

You can even use this new found tranquility to test your set up with different shutter speeds. Experiment with fast and slow speeds and see the effect this has on your image. A slight bit of motion blur can really finish off a shot. You never know, you might even capture a banger that gives you the coveted ‘Travel Photographer of the Year Award’!

Tip number five, go and get lost.

There’s something to be said for getting off the beaten track and uncovering places you didn’t intend to. We recommend you have some method of communication of course but challenge yourself to discover somewhere new. It’s easy to do the research and see the photos other people have taken and there’s nothing wrong with using that as inspiration but try to use it as fuel to shoot something different. Find yourself a local to check that might be able to give you some top tips or at least an idea on some areas to avoid! 

If photography is your profession then you’ll be used to scouting locations before photo shoots so you don’t have any surprises on the day. Flip this idea on it’s head and just go with the flow and adapt to the scenario as it unfolds around you.

Tip number six, protect and preserve.

Put simply, protect your equipment and preserve your photographs. If you’re travelling to a far off destination or perhaps somewhere that’s wet and wild then you’ll want to travel in the knowledge that your hard earned equipment is fully insured should the worst happen. 

Theft is another factor to be wary of and usually hits you in the least expected moment. Don’t take any risks and make sure you take out insurance on your photography equipment. Check to see if your home insurance covers your equipment away from your house and if not, see about adding that option or covering it as single trip with companies like PhotoGuard.

But how about preserving your photographs? Back them up! There would be nothing worse than capturing the most incredible images whilst you’re hundreds of miles away from home to discover that a card has become damaged or you’ve accidentally deleted everything. These days a lot of the new cameras come with some form of WiFi or bluetooth connection meaning that you can back up to your cloud service when you’re back in your hotel room.

If you’re going hard core and hotels and their internet connection are too much of a luxury then you have two other options. Bring multiple memory cards and store them in a card wallet to keep them safe as you travel. Change them daily or at whatever intervals you find suitable, that way if one card were to fail you will have others as a back up. The more expensive option is to use a mobile backup device such as a Gnar Box that allows you to secure your images on the go with a single touch. 

Last but not least. Tip number seven, make your photography a priority.

Wherever your chosen travel destination is you’ll want to explore it with your own eyes as well as through your lens. Just ensure that you don’t leave yourself short on photo time. To get the images you see on National Geographic Photographer of the Year, you’ll need to put time and effort into your photography and that means putting it as a priority.

If you’re travelling with non-photographers then you might have a hard task explaining to them why you’d like to stop so regularly to wait for an interesting subject to come into frame or why you’d like to wake up at 4am to trek to the top of a mountain to capture the most epic sunrise you’ll ever come across. If your friends aren’t as passionate about photography as you are then perhaps reach out to local clubs and societies to see if they’re running any specific trips or advice on how to book a photo tour.

Travel Photography Resources

If you’ve got any of your own top tips for travel photography then we’d love to know about them. You can drop me an email on fee@cliftoncameras.co.uk Feel free to let me know about any future blog topics you’d like to see from Clifton Cameras.

A Guide to Travel Photography by Chris Hau - Chris has a variety of short videos where he shares his expertise on being a top vacation photographer. 

Travel Photography Tips - From the legendary Nat Geo. From here why not delve into their Photographer of the Year awards, the category winners and overall winner are incredibly inspiring.

  • By Fiona Chandler
  • 27 Jan 2020

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