10 Tips for Taking Better Travel Pictures

Photography & Video — By on December 6, 2010 at 12:00 pm

By Brooke Schoenman
LG Tech & Gear Editor

No one wants to come back from a holiday and be disappointed by a camera full of photos that don’t really capture the memories and moments to their full potential.

For most people, the issue of taking better travel photos is hoped to be resolved by investing in a better camera. However, it doesn’t have to be about having a DSLR camera with a telephoto lens: It really comes down to creativity and use of the camera you already have. Here are some tips that can help take your travel photography to the next level.

1. Think in thirds

The rule of thirds can take an image from boring to intriguing. Instead of centering your focal point, try placing it a bit off-center, at the points where the thirds horizontally and vertically meet.

Here’s a recent photo taken on Magnetic Island:
survivor raft centered

Here’s the same subject, positioned using the rule of thirds:
survivor raft thirds

Can you see the difference? Read more about the rule of thirds here.

2. What are you photographing?

Is there a specific item or person that should be the star of your photo? You should identify your subject and focus on it. Sometimes, simplifying a photo by cutting out the extras can make a huge difference. Decide whether it’s important to cut out distractions or keep them in as part of the scene.

3. Pick the perfect frame

Just like for photos on the wall, a frame can make all the difference and draw attention to your subject. Natural frames—trees, buildings—can help bring perspective to your subject in distant landscapes.

guurrbi tour

4. Judging the light

Sunlight is at its harshest at midday, and that can wash out the colors from skies and landscapes. Serious photographers will plan their schedules according to when the sun is out, and if you want the best possible shot, you’ll have to do it as well. Plan photo shoots for early morning or evening. 

5. Color, symmetry & repetition

If there is a building that sticks out because it has a bright red roof while all the others are brown, this could be a good photo opportunity. On the other end of the spectrum, a fully monochromatic scheme can also be visually appealing.

Even though we have talked about the rule of thirds in a previous point, it should be noted that photography rules are never set in stone. Symmetry in a photo can be a powerful asset if done well. Repetition, however, is probably my favorite type of photo to take. How about a shot of 100 umbrellas on the edge of the beach? Or, what about the statues adorning the front of a temple?

for life

6. Use your camera—all the time!

Though it may be difficult to whip out a camera in a crowd of people, or take photos of your friends trying to order their meal in another language (shouldn’t you be helping them?), those can sometimes bring about the best photo moments. Keeping my camera in my bag more often than not is something I’ve been guilty of as well, but with a little bit of training you can be sure to change that mindset.

7. Change your perspective

Instead of taking the same old, tired, straight-on photos, head high or head low. Put your camera on the ground, or place it on a bookshelf. You never know what amazing shot you’ll get by going at it from a different angle.

rock wallaby feet

8. Photograph the reaction

When watching a sporting event, for example, you might be happy getting a shot of a famous player sinking a three-pointer. For the real excitement, get the crowd. Their reaction can sometimes speak volumes.

9. Change your settings

Cameras are full of interesting settings that change the look and feel of your photos. Try a slower shutter speed in order to catch movement (just be sure to keep your camera still), or how about black and white to set a mood?

ducks in motion

10. Post-processing is your friend

So, you may not have captured the best images while on your holiday, but sometimes all it takes is a little love to make those images as good as new. Didn’t think about the rule of thirds? No worries! Just crop the photo on your computer to get it to look perfect.

Do you have any travel photography tips not mentioned here? Share them with us by leaving a comment below!

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    8 Comments

  • Bethany says:

    Great tips Brooke!!

    Brooke S Reply:

    Thanks, Beth! You’ve always been such a resource for me when it comes to photography.

  • Awesome post! I have debating getting a new camera for a while. I’ll try putting these tips to use before making another purchase.

    Brooke S Reply:

    Good idea! I’ve seen people with simple point and shoot cameras churn out amazing photos :)

  • Some nice tips, I think the perspective one is the most important, changing how you view something makes for much more interesting images than the usual head height, straight on images most people will take.

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