We’ve all been there. You go on a sweet ass vacation, have a great time with friends, family, or by yourself, take bunch of GREAT photos…or so you thought. You get home and develop them (when film was still popular) and 3 rolls of your favourite travel snaps are over exposed and garbage. I worked as a photo lab technician for 6 years throughout high school and college and let me tell you, I’ve seen PLENTY of people break down in tears because their travel photos didn’t turn out. It’s devastating. It’s happened to me once or twice as well. I used to shoot solely on a 35mm film camera. Back when you had to know your lighting and camera settings to get a shot properly exposed, before people starting using phones to take the majority of their travel pictures and also it was a time when you wouldn’t find out if your photos turned out, until you got home and went to your local photo lab. I know firsthand that it SUCKED having to tell a couple that their honeymoon photos didn’t turn out. It was shitty. The wife cried and cried…I didn’t know what to say except, “Sorry.”
Well, now we live in a “delete it and try again” photography age. As much as I LOVE film (still do…35mm film for life, y’all), I have to admit, it is a lot less stressful knowing that I will go home with great memories of my travels, just so long as I back it up on CD, external hard drive, laptop AND make physical prints. Hey, technology can be a bitch too. Ever lose your hard drive? Ya, that sucks HUGE!
I’ve listed some photography tips and tricks that I personally use, to get some of my favourite travel photo memories.
Fill The Frame
By filling the frame, you are creating a visual sensory overload, but in a good way. It can captivate your viewer and make them feel as though they are being transported into the image themselves.
Perspective. Use Those Angles. Get High. Get Low
By using different angles, you are creating a whole different perspective for the image or feel you are trying to capture. People look at me funny when I get right on the ground, or crouch down low. If you constantly stand up and take photos at eye level, you’re missing out on a potentially great perspective. Just make sure the ground is semi-clean before lying down. Oh, and always watch for dog poo!
Research Your Destination
Is there a spot you saw on Pinterest, or on Instagram and you immediately said to yourself, “I MUST get that shot when I’m there!” Been there, done that! The more you research your destination, you’ll more than likely find more secret little viewpoints and areas of town that aren’t super touristy, but still provide some amazing shots!
Say Hello and Engage Locals. Ask for a Portrait. Never Take an Unwanted Photo of Someone
When I was in Thailand last year, we were on the beach in Phuket and a local man was walking around and chatting with us. I saw his tattoo that mentioned the Tsunami and the date it happened. I asked him about it and the story behind it. Turns out that two of his close friends were on the beach the day the tsunami washed out that same beach we were currently standing on and they were never found. He had tears in his eyes while telling me this story. I then asked him if he wouldn’t mind if I took a portrait of him and he was more than happy to oblige. You can really sense the hurt in his eyes in the photo.
Travel Slow & Look Around
Sometimes travelling slow is better. Take a train rather than flying if possible because you are likely missing out on some great photo opportunities by flying in the clouds. If you aren’t on a schedule, walk around and get lost. You’ll stumble upon an area of a city that maybe you didn’t know existed, or haven’t been to yet. Make sure to bring a map of the city, just in case.
You Don’t Need Expensive Camera Equipment To Take a Good Photo
I repeat, YOU DO NOT NEED TO GO INTO DEBT AND BUY AN EXPENSIVE CAMERA TO TAKE GOOD PHOTOS! Don’t get me wrong, equipment IS helpful, but you don’t need it to take great travel photos. I have seen both amazing and not so amazing photos taken with a phone, or point and shoot digital camera AND an expensive DSLR (digital single lens reflex, meaning you can change lenses) and I’ve been shocked that the not so good photo was taken with the expensive professional camera and the amazing photo, was taken with a phone. A PHONE!!? What!? It takes a certain gusto and skill to take a photo, you either have an eye for it, or you don’t, in my opinion. I know some people that bought expensive camera equipment and now it sits in a closet collecting dust. Poor camera! Just remember, the artist SEES the shot, the tourist TAKES the photo.
Capture The Hustle and Bustle of Everyday Life of the Locals
Capturing candid moments between locals carrying out their daily jobs, shopping and just living their lives is one of my favourite things to photograph while on vacation. There is something very static about taking a staged photo to me. I’d much rather prefer to see people in their natural state and in their everyday environments. You get a much more real and raw image in my opinion.
Never Stop Travelling, Never Stop Exploring & Always Take Notes
The only true way to enhance your travel photos is to keep travelling. The more you travel and the more you explore and play with your camera settings, angles etc, will you then truly master your craft. Always take notes when researching places to shoot, whether it be a park, a landscape or some architecture. Don’t be afraid to try new things either. Think a shot will look better from a lower angle? Do you think the landscape will look better at sunset? Go ahead, try it. You’ll never know unless you try, right? The more notes you take, the more you’ll be inspired to get out there and keep travelling and snapping photos. Once you start seeing increased quality in your photos, you’ll realize what does and doesn’t work.
Have any other photography tips to share? Let me know in the comments below! xo