17 Tips For Travel Photographers

Clicking photographs with your own camera is an amazing way to remember an amazing experience by. They can become a collection of pretty awesome souvenirs, they’re much better than something that can be bought at a store because they have a personal touch to them.  Travel photography is like travelling in a time machine. You get to witness the breathtaking beauty of a destination over and over again, forever. It may help others to find inspiration to travel and click photographs as well. 

Each destination is unique. It offers unique experiences, cultures, people. Each destination has a different story to tell if you listen hard enough.

1. Always Bring A Camera

street photography guideleines. always carry a camera

“The best camera is the one you have with you” is a popular saying that captures the essence of photography quite accurately. Be ready for anything and carry a travel camera with you at all times, so that you never miss anything. Luck plays a very important role in photography and the difference between a professional and an amateur is that a professional is always prepared for this luck to kick in and has planned for the same beforehand. 
You never know what stupendous opportunity may present itself to click a photograph. You may see something that catches your eye while walking around casually. Keep your camera on you, charged up and ready for action at all times. 

2. Wake Up Early, Stay Out Late

You snooze you lose, you have probably heard this phrase. It stands true with photography as well. The warm and soft light you see at dawn is the precursor to capturing absolutely stunning shots. 

Waking up early often means that you don’t have to compete for the perfect picture spot with other tourists. Getting to a monument or spot of interest early can help you get the perfect shot without random strangers wandering into your frame knowingly or unknowingly.Sunrise isn’t the only great time to click pretty pictures. Sunsets are also great. The hour after sunrise and the hour after sunset are named the ‘Golden Hours’, because of the soft and warm tones and eye-pleasing shadows. The ‘Blue Hour’ is the time right after sunsets when the sky is still blue but the street lights have come on everywhere.

Shooting photos at noon on a bright and sunny day is the absolute for any kind of photography not just travel photography. It is better to use the afternoons to take a nap so that you are energized for waking up early and staying up late. 

3. Pre-Trip Location Scouting

Reading up about your destination helps a lot, going through travel guides, reading articles over the internet and blog posts not only gives you a sense of your destination but of the kind of photographs you can take as well. Knowing more about your destination will help you seek interesting compositions and locations. Tools like Instagram and Google are often used to get an idea of iconic locations in the destination you may visit. Actual postcard racks can also be referred to in order to come up with a shot list.

Once you can recognize a couple of shoot locations you can go forward and research about those locations with respect to the timings for best shots, vantage point, tourist traffic and weather conditions. Wandering around without having done any research has its place but looking up a location before visiting it saves plenty of time. If you know your location well enough then you can spend all your time and focus on getting great shots.


4. Experiment With Compositions

street photography guidelines - experiment with compositions

Experimentation will almost always get you a better shot. It is smart to take the first shot simply standing up, but it should be mixed up a little bit. Maybe lay down on the floor or climb up something to get shots from different angles, as it might reveal something that the simple standing shot was unable to expose. Shooting from different distances along with different angles counts as experimentation as well. Start with a wide-shot, then a mid-range shot and finally get up close and personal. Never be satisfied with your first idea for an image. 

Elements other than the object of interest should also be kept in mind. Including powerful foreground, midground or background elements will improve the quality of the image tenfold. If your subject is a person maybe find a mountain range, waterfall in the background. It gives the image a three-dimensional feel. Focal compression is something that a lot of photographers often use. It involves using a zoom lens into tricking the eye and making it seem like the object of interest is much closer than it is in reality.


5. Talk To People Before Asking For A Photo

street photography guidelines - experiment with compositions

Photographing local people in foreign countries is often difficult for photographers. What if they don’t understand you? What if they get offended? What if they decline? It takes time to get comfortable with this routine, although it may seem daunting even if you have a lot of experience.
The key is to interact with people. Say hello. Ask for directions. Buy a souvenir. Chat for sometime. Be generally courteous. Be friendly, before asking for a photograph. It seems less invasive.
Always ask for permission before taking close-ups. It is advisable to spend some time learning how to say ‘Can I click your picture’ or ‘Can I have a photo’ in the local language. The effort is always appreciated, it is a great way to make new friends.
People may refuse to let you click their picture, they may ask you to pay them for the same. It is not a very big issue, it happens a lot of times. Remember to smile, thank them for their time and bid them adieu. Move on and try again. Repeated rejections give you the confidence to ask more and more people.

6. Don’t Underestimate The Human Element

People often pretend that the person in a picture is them. They like to live vicariously through the subjects in the photos. It adds to the emotion of the image. It feels like you are experiencing the location yourself.
This can be achieved by posing a subject in a way that they become anonymous. Hiding the subject’s face. 

The human element adds a better sense of scale to the images. By placing your subject in the distance you can get a better sense of exactly how big or small a object in the image is, compared to the subject. This is why photographing ‘tiny’ people does so well in large landscapes. The human element in a photo helps tell a very personal story. Images seem to be more powerful when a person is included in them. The idea that you are trying to convey with the picture can be changed completely by the addition of a person. 


7. Rule Of Thirds In Photography

street photography guidelines - use rule of thirds

The Rule of Thirds in one of the most basic and classic photography tips. Understanding this rule and using it in real life helps you come out with more balanced compositions. The rule basically involves you breaking an image down into thirds horizontally and vertically, so that it is split into different sections. 
The goal is to place the objects of interest in those areas where the attention of the viewer is drawn easily and to help frame the overall image in a way that seems pleasing to the viewer.

The camera has a ‘grid’ feature that displays the rule of thirds grid directly on your LCD making the process of composing with the Rule Of Thirds easily. Before you compose a travel photo, it is important to ask yourself what the key interest points are in this shot? Where they should be placed on the grid intentionally. Attending to these details will improve the quality of your image by leaps and bounds. 


8. Pack A Light Tripod

More and more people have started using a tripod. A tripod allows you to place your camera at a specific height and position and helps you keep it there. Once the camera is fixed you can pay all your attention to capturing the perfect composition. You can adjust various settings while the camera is steady so as to ensure that you get the highest quality image. You can also use advanced settings like HDR, focus stacking and panorama to boost the quality of your composition.

Tripods allow you to click pictures at much lower shutter speeds without having to worry about hand-held camera shake. The ISO can be set low, to ensure lesser sensor noise and use smaller apertures to get more of the image in focus. You have more creative control over your compositions and the camera’s manual settings while using a tripod. This does not mean you have to carry your tripod around everywhere, but it certainly helps in many situations. 
A tripod makes a huge difference when you are shooting tack sharp landscapes, low-light photography, self-portraits, sunsets-sunrises, flowing water shots and more. 


9. Make Travel Photography A Priority

Rushing from one location to another while travelling will leave you with the same photographs that other people click, they will be quite generic. Travel photography requires you to commit a significant amount of time to photography. ‘Photography time’ needs to be planned into your travel schedule. Travelling with friends who are not really into photography makes it difficult for you to get in some amazing clicks. You need to peel off the crowd and go out on your own to get actual work done. Waking up early to wander on organized tours is a simple solution to this problem.
The best option is to get a rental car, so that you control all factors of a trip. You are in charge of where and how often you stop to click pictures. There is nothing worse than being stuck on a bus while watching an amazing scene pass you by.

10. Patience Is Everything

street photography guidelines - be patient

Photography is all about seeing what is right in front of you. Not just with your eyes, but with your heart and mind. It is an emotional affair. It requires dedicated attention and time. Slowing down and making a conscious effort to actually observing your surroundings can go a long way.
Paying attention to details is absolutely essential. Sit at a photogenic corner in the street, wait for a photogenic subject to pass you by. Photography is mainly waiting for the right moment. Because a lack of patience may result in you missing a fantastic photo opportunity. 
Good photography takes time. You have to be willing to spend a few hours waiting for the perfect shot. That is what professionals do. The more patience you have the better your pictures will come out looking. 

11. Protect Against Theft

Cameras are quite expensive products. They are one of the prime targets for theft while traveling. There are several precautions that can be taken to avoid any unfortunate incidents. Camera insurance is the best way to minimize losses if your camera and gear goes missing or is stolen. There are several organisations that offer insurance to its members. 

It is advisable to keep your gear secure when it is not being used. Use hotel safes or hostel lockers. Never check your gear in while traveling on a plane, always take it as carry-on luggage. Avoid flashing your camera around in sketchy and poor neighbourhoods. Keep it hidden in nondescript bags until you need to use it. Always register new gear with the manufacturer, keep track of all serial numbers, save all the purchase receipts and more in order to speed up the insurance process in case of any unfortunate accident.

12. Shoot Photos In Manual Mode

People often say that modern cameras are smart enough to take fantastic pictures themselves in AUTO mode. It just is not true. If you want truly stunning pictures you should learn how to manually control the settings of your camera yourself. New photographers are often unaware of all the settings that need to be adjusted in cameras in the manual mode. These settings include ISO, aperture and shutter speed. Knowledge of the relationship between these settings and how to perfectly operate them will help you capture truly beautiful images.

To do this, switch your camera’s dial to ‘Manual Mode’. This mode gives you more control over the camera’s functioning. Manually adjusting aperture gives you control over the depth of field in an image. Manual control over the shutter speed lets you capture motion much more creatively. Manual control over ISO, lets you reduce the noise in the images and deal with tricky light situations. 

13. Get Lost On Purpose

street photography guidelines - get lost on purpose

Once you have visited the popular and iconic photography sites, it is time to move on and explore the location. Travel the road less taken in search of interesting compositions. Get lost on purpose. If you want to get images that no one has, you need to wander more. Explore the area, look for hidden beauty, look for beauty in the obvious, something that will probably be ignored by a lot of people. The best way to do this – is to set out on foot without knowing your destination .

Bring your camera and head out into the unknown. Check with locals beforehand to ensure that wherever you go it is safe. Wander down alleyways, mountain tops and more.


14. Backup Your Travel Photos

Along with camera insurance it is very important to back up your photos both offline and online. It will prove to be your saviour if you happen to lose your laptop or camera. External hard-drives can be used to store all the media as well as an online back up of all or select images and a final back up of the images after they have been edited. Google drive is a great tool to back up your images online. 


15. Practice Post Processing 

street photography guidelines - learn post processing

A ridiculous myth is often mentioned amongst photographers about editing and how it is cheating. All professional photographers edit their photos using applications like Lightroom, Photoshop and more. Some do it more than others, but everyone does it. 
Post processing is a very important part of a travel photographer’s workflow. It is similar to the darkroom adjustments made by film photographers. Learning about how to process images after clicking them is as important as actually clicking the pictures. It involves learning how to improve contrast, sharpen images, reduce highlights, boost shadows, minimise sensor noise etc using the software. 
Spending money on professional post-processing tutorials is highly recommended. It can really improve the quality of your photography as a whole. 

16. Don’t Obsess Over Camera Equipment

Using the best equipment available in the market is not a guarantee that it will make you a great photographer. It would cost a fortune and won’t make much of a difference. Just like the type of brush does not make a painter great similarly camera equipment does not make a photographer great. Creativity, experience and knowledge are what make a photographer great. 
Camera companies market their products much better than paintbrush companies. Which is why you feel you need an expensive product. In reality you don’t. Professionals use expensive gear because it gives them the opportunity to produce a wider range of images. For instance, extremely low light astrophotography or fast action wildlife photography. They require such equipment because their images are sold as fine arts.
It is smarter to spend time learning the functions of your camera properly instead of buying brand new equipment. It is a much better investment of your time and money. 

17 Never Stop Learning

street photography guidelines - keep on learning

In today’s day and age each field evolves on a daily basis. One should never stop learning. It is useful to invest time and money on online photography tutorials, travel photography workshops. Going out and practicing on a regular basis is absolutely essential. This is the road to improvement- not by buying the latest gear or using filters from snapchat or instagram. 
If you feel you have mastered the art of capturing landscapes for instance, then mix it up, go out and click portraits of strangers, stalk animals like a hunter. Stay up late experimenting with long exposures of the night sky. 
You will undoubtedly become more talented and resourceful as a photographer if you commit to the art and take the time to learn new techniques and skills from other photographers. 

This is a guaranteed way of becoming a more complete photographer. Committing to the art and taking the time out to learn the trade properly will only benefit you in the long run.