5 basic things to improve your travel photography
“Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. What you have caught on film is captured forever… It remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything.” — Aaron Siskind
We’ve been roaming around for a while now and photography has become our most important form of keepsakes from our travels. Everyone has their own way of making and keeping memories from their travels – photography lets you keep a moment frozen in time, so you can revisit it and enjoy that same moment for many years to come.
It also gives the opportunity to share your experiences with others, to inspire and give a smile ,it was true for us .The photographs we saw were directly responsible for our motivation for travel , and so far it has been an amazing journey together .
Both of us work in fields where photography is important, but neither of us have any professional training – we aren’t very technical but, most the technical elements have come through to us mostly with what we learnt in the form trial and error. Most of the time we try out techniques found in dedicated photography blogs and videos - and through time and experience, we have come to grips with what works for us and what doesn't.
So here are 5 basic things you can do that can have a huge impact on your travel photography , that we have come to follow on our adventures.
That said, there are MANY MORE TO THIS LIST, but these here are a base for you to build upon. Practice makes perfect, and the best way to know what works and what does not is to try it out in the real world.
1. Be an early bird and stay as late as you can.
It’s a no brainer here. The earlier you are the more chance you have of having the place all to yourself. There are so many places that can be overflowing with tourists , making you miss out on a great photograph – being there at the head of the crowd gives you an opportunity to make some great shots.
Also, there’s the added bonus of photographing the early rising sun. The warm and soft lighting gives you the chance to take photos that gives you that added touch and something special. If you are there way way early , you can get the blue sky in the background ; couple that with a long exposure shot and you will end up with something magical!
THE SUNSETS are a must to witness on your travels. The golden hours – that come just after sunrise and just before sunset, offer great aesthetic and satisfying tones to your photographs. The withering light makes it difficult to shoot at first , but with time and patience , plus a good dose of luck you can end up with some gorgeous shots.
2. Get yourself a Wide Angle lens.
A simple and straightforward thing to vastly improve your shots. A landscape lense offers a wider field of view, resulting in more area being incorporated into your shot. Kit lenses are great and does the job, but if you really want to make an impact, you will need to make an investment on a wide angle lense. A small 14mm or a 12mm will cost some serious cash, but it's an investment that will be rewarding. When you are travelling it's best to keep things light so choosing a good wide lens that covers a wide angle can substitute for 2 or 3 other lenses.
3. Invest a dedicated time to take photographs.
Travelling can be a intrinsic experience. The sights and sounds of a new destination can be wholesome and fulfilling. The first time we set foot in Nepal, it was just magical, and we just were constantly exploring and taking in the sights. But if you rush along here and there, wander aimlessly and take quick snapshots, in the end you will waste time and endup with some pretty commonplace photos that EVERYONE Else has. Looking back, you will regret not taking that extra time to take that extra special photograph, that would be an everlasting memento to your travels.
A good photograph while travelling requires a good time commitment and make sure that you have in hand with you when you travel. We often prefer to travel alone and with friends who understand this need, and this makes for a better experience. It's not the same as just simply taking a photos at every nook and corner. Take your time, Talk to people, have patience, wait that extra hour for that perfect shot and always climb that extra mile so you can be rewarded with an amazing photograph.
Get lost, take the longer route but always plan ahead and have an idea on what you need and want to gain from your travels. But always be spontaneous, and be flexible. Most importantly, be happy and enjoy what you do.
4. Include the human element
We live a moment through a photograph. That is true in every respect. Ever imagined that it was you, who was climbing that snow capped mountain - when you see a glorious photo of a climber hiking up a trail? Or someone swimming in a gentle waves in a turquoise blue ocean?
That's what it feels to include yourself in the photo, to feel the emotion and to feel yourself reliving that moment every time you see it.
How do you do it? Include yourself or that of another human in your photographs. You can experiment with different compositions : here are a few examples - a photograph of you holding a leaf in front of a forest, if someone climbing a mountain with the peaks in view OR busting humanity in a cityscape. These will add emotional depth and more composition to your travel photography.
Include a story into your photograph . Make it more than a simple frame.
Also adding people will give a sense of proportion to scale. A tiny climber against a massive mountain can give better depth and convert a better idea how big those mountains are (than saying it in a few dozen words)
5. Bring along a tripod
A must have in you travel gear repertoire. A tripod allows you better steady shots - perfect for those long exposures. How awesome it would be take a photo of the night skies while hiking? A tripod allows you this luxury.
We never travel without our tripod. In the beginning, we used to prop the camera on rocks or shoes or whatever that was at hand and take a picture : and you never end up with a satisfying result (and scratched the base of our old camera in the process)
A tripod also allows you the benefit of taking a photograph of you and your partner without asking anyone else to help. (done that - and it can be amusing sometimes)
Steady shots and better yet, steady videos come as a result of having this by you. And above all it is invaluable if you hope to take great time lapses.
When you travel, it's always going to be a struggle with managing time. And you will want some exceptional travel moments with you as keepsakes. Sometimes it'll be easy and effortless, and sometimes it's going to be nearly impossible to even get a decent shot. With time and experience it will get easier, but the sometimes you will get only a limited chance to travel to that particular place or destination. And when you do, you'll want to maximize what you get out of that trip.
We hope this guide help you cut away with some of the learning curve, and make you more proficient in managing the time spent while taking photos on your travels. There is never a substitute for experience but we hope this guide helps you in many ways. You can use this as a baseline to build up your own guidelines and make that next travel photography experience something truly special.
You learn through your travels. Whether be it from errors or happy coincidence it always is the greatest learning experience you can possibly have.
Happy trails and here's wishing you the best for your next travel experience!!
“The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.” — Dorothea Lange