How to Take Better Travel Photographs, According to a Professional Photographer

Nothing stops our Instagram scrolling like a perfect, bright, gorgeous photo of somewhere far beyond our dim apartments. Our first thought — after a twinge of envy — is, “Why don’t my travel pictures ever look that good?”

Enter: Anna Argiropoulos, portrait and travel photographer extraordinaire behind the company Anna with Love. She provided us some great tips and tricks to making sure that our pics actually match the gorgeous places we travel to. 

 

 

How to Take Better Travel Photographs

 

1. Mind the Sun

This one I had to learn the hard way.  Let me explain… We were in Corfu, Greece, and I wanted to get a photo of the beautiful town from above. It had such beautiful warm tones, so I knew sunset would be best — so we decided to climb the castle.  It was hot, it was packed with people, we were carrying not-so-light camera equipment, but we did it — only to realize when we got to the top the light was setting behind the town vs. behind the castle.  The lighting was all wrong for what I had envisioned.  I stood there in disbelief, wondering how I didn’t think about the direction of the sun until I got up there and took out my camera — I didn’t even think about it!  Lesson learned — whenever we travel now and I have something specific in mind, I double check where it’s located vs. the sun position and plan our day accordingly. If I want to take a photo of a specific door, I’ll check and wait until I know it will be in the shade.  This saves a ton of time, especially when you’re only visiting somewhere for a few days.  A little research goes a long way!

 

 

2. Get there before sunrise

My favorite thing to do when visiting a new place is to wake up before everyone else and explore.  You get a different (beautiful) perspective and experience doing this.  My mornings solo in Paris during all my visits are still my favorite memories, and walking across the Brooklyn Bridge as the sun rose was another one I’ll never forget.  Even if it’s not for photos, I’d encourage everyone to do this at least one morning during any trip.  For the photos, it’s obvious why you should do this — no people! Want a beautiful shot with an empty Eiffel Tower, Colosseum, or beautiful beach? Get there before sunrise.  Whether you’re a blogger, travel, portrait or wedding photographer, or just a travel enthusiast, this applies.  

We did our engagement photos in Paris and we arrived at the Eiffel Tower for 5:30am (hair and makeup ready) — and it was worth it to get this photo:

 

 

3. Do your research! Arrive early + know what you want to photograph

One of my favorite photographs (and travel moments) was when I had a solid 10 min solo at the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles.  I didn’t have to learn this the hard way.  Growing up, my mom would ensure we would show up everywhere early and first to avoid the crowds — so when I started photography, I would automatically apply this rule.  We found out what time the palace would be opening, got there an hour before it was opening, and got in line (there were already people there lining up) — I was with Ko (my hubs), and I said that the second those gates open we make a dash for the Hall or Mirrors — and that’s exactly what we did.  We got there and I quickly snapped as many frames as I could — I even got a few photos of myself.  Within 10 minutes, it was filling up with people.  

Rule of thumb: arrive early and know exactly where you want to get the photo — especially when traveling in high season!

 

 

4. Fix your perspectives

This is unavoidable sometimes. You see a stunning building you want to capture, and you’re at street level. So you frame up the photo and take the shot and it looks like a house out of a Dr. Seuss book — a pie shape (examples below). When I first started photography, I would be so frustrated with this, but I learned my way around it.  Now I shoot knowing I’m going to fix the perspective in post, so I shoot more than I need for the final image.  While we were in London, I’d get Ko to boost me on fences, buildings — anything I could climb onto to get a high vantage point… I even went on his shoulders multiple times! Get the best vantage point you can, and then shoot more than you need.

You can do this using Lightroom, but a faster way is the alignment tool inside your Instagram app (see below):

 

 

5. Leave room for happy accidents

Though I like to have certain images I’d like to capture and create in mind before I travel somewhere, I do leave a lot of time for exploration and happy accidents.  Oftentimes, that’s where I’ll get my favorite photo or print.  I wander and take in the surroundings and then, out of nowhere, I see something amazing to capture.  That’s the most exciting and fun part of traveling.  This happened with one of my favorite prints of all time, La Bicyclette — Don’t forget to leave plenty of time to wader, get lost, and have fun (but always keep one eye looking out for the perfect shot).

 

 

BONUS TIP FOR PEOPLE PHOTOS

Don’t be shy! Ask people to take your photo! My rule of thumb for this used to be to ask the person with the nicest camera — usually, they knew how to crop and take a good angle… Nowadays, everyone has a “nice” camera, and it’s harder to spot the people who will do a good job.  My new rule of thumb: I look around and see who’s taking photos — does someone look like a photographer/blogger? I’ll ask them. I’m also not shy about showing them exactly how I want the photo taken, I frame it up for them and then I pop into the photo!  I also ask everyone I see struggling to take a double selfie/group selfie if they’d like me to take a photo for them. Nine times out of ten, they ask if they can return the favor once I’m done taking their photos.

 

SHOP ANNA’S TRAVEL PRINTS

 

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