Travel photography: tips to capture professional-quality images

When you love traveling, it’s always good to have photographs as souvenirs of your trip, but have you thought about getting into travel photography more seriously? High-quality photographs are always more satisfying, and they’re a great way to share your experiences with others. They can help you to bring the world to friends and family members who have never explored those places themselves. You may even be able to sell them, helping to finance your trips. What would you need to make it happen?

Popular routes

The first thing to do is to think about your routes. Some of the most interesting travel photos come from places off the beaten track, but there’s still a lot of potential in popular routes that take you through some of the world’s most photogenic areas.

  • The Himalayas – you don’t have to be able to climb Mount Everest to find fascinating places to explore in this part of the world, and you can get some amazing photographs from the foothills when you hike around the towering mountains.
  • The Amazon – despite its popularity, this remains one of the least-explored areas of the world, and there’s always more to see. If you take a river tour, you’ll be surprised by the diversity of landscapes you encounter.
  • The Australian Outback – few landscapes are as striking as the baked red earth of this wide open country, and it’s full of bizarre geological formations you’ll see nowhere else, while the light is guaranteed to be spectacular.
  • World cities – from the bright lights of the Big Apple to the crowded streets of Delhi, there’s lots to discover in the world’s biggest cities and, if you’re smart about what you do, there are always new ways to photograph them.

Style and subjects

It used to be said that the difference between a painter and a photographer is that the latter gives you an unfiltered view, but now people are beginning to realize that the best photographers always put their personality into their work and have unique perspectives on the world. One way that this can be seen is through their choice of subjects. Travel photography isn’t all about seeing the sights – it can also be about observing local people and culturally interesting aspects of day-to-day life. Think about what matters to you, and try to take photos that don’t just show but also reveal. It can help to look at the work of other photographers – you can easily look up images from the same places on a site that sells travel photos, and it’s also worth considering places such as this as an option for monetizing your photos.

The natural world

The world is full of amazing natural locations where you’d struggle to take a photograph that didn’t look brilliant. Almost any waterfall, mountain, or coastline can be made to look beautiful if you frame it well, but what’s also important is to try to bring out the character of individual places. You can always find character in wildlife photos, and many people love the idea of trying out nature photography. If you do, the thing to be aware of is that it requires a lot of patience. Wild animals tend to be very shy, and you may need to wait for hours in one place before any come close enough to be photographed.

The right equipment

Although you won’t want to carry a lot of extra equipment around on your travels, taking a few additional items can do a lot to help you get good photos. The single most useful item is a tripod, and there are very light ones available these days, but alternatively, you could consider a Gorillapod, which is tiny and can be balanced on virtually anything or even attached to the branch of a tree. Having a light or flash gun that isn’t directly attached to your camera will also improve your shots a lot, and you can use it for fill during the day so that foreground subjects don’t turn into silhouettes on bright days. Whatever you take, make sure it’s robust and suited to the particular environments you’re visiting, whether that means it has to be waterproof, has to be able to withstand low temperatures, or something else.

Taking photos on your phone

What if you only have your phone with you – can you still take good shots? Naturally, that depends on what sort of phone it is, but some are now getting impressive results. The most difficult thing to capture without the more sophisticated lenses that traditional cameras employ is depth of field – the three-dimensionality of your images – but you can work around this to an extent through your choice of shots. Some phones come with polarizing filters, and this is something you will need if you’re going to take photographs in very bright environments such as deserts or snowy landscapes.

Framing your photos

A large part of what makes a photo look good is its composition, and this is something you can take into account regardless of the camera you’re using. A good starting point is to think about the rule of thirds, which you can use as a guideline for working out how to position your camera in relation to your subject. There are a few other simple tricks that are useful to know about, such as shooting from a low angle to make your subject look taller, or shooting through foliage with the closest leaves and twigs out of focus in order to create a sense of being there. Try to avoid having to rely on automatic focus as it will sometimes select the wrong object on which to focus.

Becoming a really good photographer takes years of practice, but even if your photos aren’t technically brilliant to begin with, interesting subjects could still give them a lot of appeal. Take the time to look through your past shots, perhaps when you’re brushing them up with editing software, and think about how you could do better. Developing your photography skills is a journey that will bring great rewards of its own.

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