These days it’s hard to find someone who doesn’t love sharing their travel photos—we have so many different channels to share them! Though not everyone takes photos regularly during daily life, we usually always do while traveling. So the next time you’re traveling, employ these five tips improve your travel photos (whether you’re shooting on the brand new DSLR you just bought or your old iPhone that is literally dying as you read this).
1. Approach Subjects Differently
In the age of Instagram, it’s easy to look at 100 people who have gone to the same city or place you’re headed and feel like there are “must have” photos you need to take. We say, throw that notion out the window! The best thing you can do when visiting a new place is to forget what others have done and focus on your own experience. When you shoot from your own unique perspective, you’ll train yourself to see things differently.
We’ve all seen the classic Eiffel Tower photo, but what about from a fresh perspective? Simple things like shooting from a low vantage point, a unique angle or capturing subjects off the beaten path can make all the difference. Remember, you’re capturing what you saw and loved on your trip, not what someone else experienced. Don’t let other people’s shots on social media make you feel like you have to take photos a certain way.
2. Hone in on Details
One of my favorite things about traveling is all of the tiny details that set each place apart from where you’re from. Little things like signs in a foreign language or a product you’ve never seen before can make all the difference. There’s something beautiful about the uniqueness of a new place and a great way to improve your photos is to seek out these differences.
Pay attention to what stands out in your surroundings when traveling. Not only will this help you be mindful of the uniqueness of a new place, it will allow you to appreciate the tiny details you may normally miss. To become more attuned to the details of a place, start by looking for common patterns, colors, and design elements. It sounds simple, but this can tell you a lot about a place.
3. Lower the Pressure
An easy mistake to make is to put pressure on yourself to take pictures of absolutely everything so that you have 1000 amazing photos to ‘gram at any given moment. This will lead you to be exhausted from taking photos; come home with thousands of photos you don’t even really like; waste too much of your precious time behind camera when you could have been exploring.
Don’t feel like you absolutely must shoot everything or take your camera everywhere. Take time to simply be in the moment with where you are. You’ll find that when you do pick up your camera, you’ll be more likely to produce photos you love since you won’t feel obligated to take pictures blindly. If you travel with a camera in addition to the one on your phone (I feel you, ladies, who have aching shoulders from carrying around a DSLR) practice by leaving your camera at the hotel and take just your phone along. You’ll be amazed at how much more you are able to experience.
4. Know Your Camera and Photo Basics
It sounds obvious, but in the rush of exciting travel plans many of us tend to upgrade our camera equipment right before a big trip. But one of the worst mistakes you can make is not taking the time to learn about your camera before leaving. Take a few hours to review your camera basics—make sure you know about some of the manual settings of your camera.
Even basic point and shoot and smart phone cameras offer setting options such as aperture; learning these tools can make all the difference. If you are shooting on your phone, select a few editing techniques or filters before your trip. Make things as easy on yourself as possible by planning ahead—the last thing you want is to waste your time trying to choose a filter or figure out where your memory card goes!
5. Think About Overall Story
Maybe it’s happened to you: You open a travel magazine, see an amazing editorial spread of an incredible destination and think “Why don’t my photos look like that?” Part of what separates these travel spreads is that they tell a story of a place. You’ll often see photos of the food a region is known for, nature landscapes, shots of locals, hotel details, and more all in one spread. Readers are able to see a beautiful, complete story.
Apply this concept to your own photos the next time that you travel—you’ll be amazed. Simple things like capturing the desk in your hotel room or seemingly insignificant graffiti on a wall downtown can really help your photos go from basic travel shots to a beautiful cohesive story.