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Improving Your Travel Photography Skills

This blog post was updated on March 24, 2022.

We snap photographs of the people, sights and subtleties, hoping they will translate into film when we get home.


There is, however, often some disappointment. Memories of what a place looked like or the expression on some local’s face you thought you captured are not always what they seem after the initial point and shoot.


Most travelers want to show off their photographs and have decent reminders of a great adventure. If the travel photography is dismal, your trip might seem to have been less than extraordinary.


Sadly, you can’t go back and try again with your subject on the other side of the world. With a basic point and shoot camera, here are a few ways to improve that simple click while traveling.


Slow Down: My worst photographs are often rushed. While point and shoot cameras are designed to be quick and easy, your photographs can sometimes mirror that fact. At the time, you are in such a hurry to just snap photographs, you almost forget to look at what you are shooting. Once you get home, you may realize you could have framed the shot better and cut out the less than photo worthy such as the gaping mouths of a tour group. I find the more time I spend with a place, the better my photographs can be. Just because there is an auto feature, it doesn’t mean your photographs should be rushed and instantly automatic.


Don’t Just Stand There: You are staring at an ornate church façade and you just snap a photograph while standing in front of it. Many times, these shots are flat, failing to show all of the details and extravagance you witnessed. Sometimes for a good travel shot, you need to crouch down on your knees, roll to the side or merely move the camera in a different way. Flat photographs show no depth, no reality to your adventure. Just standing and clicking can often produce those flat photographs.


Take More Shots Than You Think You Will Need: A simple click and you are on your way. Then, you upload the one shot you have of the Leaning Tower of Pisa and you detest it. Photographs can be deceiving, especially when translating from the screen of a tiny camera to the screen of a giant computer.  A general rule of thumb for travel photography is take as many photographs as you can for you never know if you will return for a better shot. I often set up camp in a city for several days, telling myself I will go back to such and such monument or neighborhood to take photographs and I never do. With travel photography, if the moment is there, take it for you don’t know if you will be back.


Don’t Forget To Photograph People: On family vacations growing up, I don’t think my mom ever took a photograph without a person in it. You may feel ridiculous standing in front of some monument, but photographs with people are often the ones we pour over back home. Within reason, getting shots of locals can also strengthen your travel memory. Sure, you want to remember the sights and scenery, but the people are the life behind travel.


Flickr: BigTallGuy


What are some of your simple tips for better travel photography?

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