The only 10 tips you will ever need to know about travel photography
1. Research the destination
There are millions of photographers out there; I mean, literally, millions of people and tourists with cameras. I’m not saying they are all great photographers, but the competition is there. It’s up to you as a travel photographer to see what they did and try to avoid repeating it. Having said that, often typical shots can help you feel satisfied, so don’t completely ignore those or deprive your inner self the satisfaction they might bring.
2. Less is more
I’m guilty of this myself. I used to carry all of my gear around everywhere and that surely killed my back and dried my energy so fast. If you follow tip 1, you are most likely going to carry less equipment because you know what to expect. Watch the below video for more on this point.
3. Have a list
Mental or written list of shots will help you be relaxed instead of being nervous about what to shoot. This list doesn’t have to be too detailed with exact scene description, but at least a guide for you to make sure you don’t go back to your hotel room at the end of the day regretting you didn’t take this or that shot. Having a list can only be done after doing enough research.
Make sure you capture local people in their own elements, markets, currency, flags, food or any other subjects that tell the story of that country.
4. Get off the beaten track
The best shots are sometimes NOT of that famous landmark. Why not wake up early and walk around streets where the local people can be found? When all tourists are too busy taking shots of that famous landmark, look around for something different. Faces make for a great subject so try those but always ask for permission with a smile.
5. Slow down
I’m not a huge fan of covering more tourist attractions in one trip, as intriguing as it might sound, it’s actually counter-productive. You will need to slow down and take your sweet time thinking about creative ways to tackle your subjects. Only by slowing down you can achieve this. The exception to this is if you were in the bus moving from one location to another, where you don’t have control over the speed, don’t forget to look out the bus’s window for interesting people and shots. The one on the left was taken from a bus.
6. Add a model
Adding a model often provides that extra layer of interest. Ask your travel buddy/spouse/friend or even an interesting local face to model for you. Be careful though not to have them look at the camera for those stereotypical “shoot me on location” but rather looking at the main subject or interacting with others. Also be careful the model is not taking away from the scene, unless this is what you want so unless they are adding perspective, you probably don’t want this to be a portrait session, which can pretty much done anywhere else.
7. Be the model
Can’t find a model or the model is too shy? No problem, you are your best model! Put yourself in the picture, don’t do a selfie please, there’s nothing more amateurish than that. Follow what I mentioned in the previous tip on how the model should add to the scene.
8. Hire an assistant
By hire I mean ask for a free help. A friend, spouse of even the trip guide can do you a favor by holding up that flash for you or keep your equipment safe. Don’t forget to say thank you and pay them by buying them something and/or taking a nice photo of them
9. Be safe
No photo is worth you getting yourself in trouble, in jail or in regret. Be safe at all times and insure and tag your equipment with your name whenever you can.
10. Have fun and share
Make sure you have fun in the process, but the biggest fun is when you share your photos and watch people go: “WOW”. Photos taken during your travel are worthless if you don’t share them. Edit and share with others to appreciate and get inspired. Who knows? If your photo is good enough, someone might just email you asking you “How much would you sell that photo for?”