Traveling and photography are a match made in heaven. What could be better than you, your camera, and some new travel destinations that bring you into contact with interesting people, gorgeous landscapes, and iconic landmarks?
Of course, the secret to truly excellent travel photography is honing your skills to find more than just those postcard shots. In this article, we offer up five ways to do just that.
Use Your Feet!
Places like national parks or iconic locations like the Eiffel Tower have made it incredibly easy for tourists to get the typical postcard shot. There are nice paths, wide open spaces, and easy walks to beauty spots that afford wonderful views.
But more often than not, just a few minutes from where you have to fight with the crowds to get the shot you want, is a lesser known area that affords great views as well. All you have to do is use your feet and find those more hidden locations. And even if there aren’t any hidden gems, at the very least, you can use your feet to walk around whatever it is you’re shooting. Look for new vantage points, find other elements nearby that can be used as a frame or as supplementary material in your shot. The point is that with minimal effort, in many cases, you can get away from the crowds to find a spot that you can take a much more unique photo.
Always Be at the Ready
When you’re traveling, it can be all too easy to get caught up in the process of travel - making your flight, for example - and not pay attention to all the wonders that pass you by in the process. From interesting people in the airport to the landscapes that fly by as you look out the window of a train, there are all sorts of photographic opportunities that lie between you and your destination. You never know when an incredible composition will present itself to you, so have your camera at the ready so you can seize those moments.
Be Prepared to Work
You should also be prepared to go the extra mile when the situation calls for it. Some locations need to be photographed in the early morning or even the dead of night. Putting up with strenuous hikes, poor weather, or carrying a heavy backpack full of your camera gear might be a small price to pay to get an incredible travel photo. Just like mentioned above, be willing to head out further away from where everyone else is to get the shot you want. Working for the photo might involve being hungry, dirty, and tired, but the journey you take to get the best photos just becomes part of the story of your travels anyway. And, if you’re lucky, the hard work will pay off with some truly spectacular photos!
Be Compositionally Adventurous
If you think of typical travel photos, you probably think of subjects that are well framed in an image that is perfectly exposed. And while those are certainly worthwhile characteristics to have in an image, doing things the traditional way can also be a bit boring.
While you’re traveling, take an adventurous tone with your photos. Try compositions that you’ve never tried before - purposefully overexpose your image or take extreme close-ups of the details around you. Play with color and light. Try a black and white composition. Give a long-exposure a try. Go minimalistic. If you usually take photos of landscapes, challenge yourself to try portraiture. In the end, not only will you have a wider set of photography skills, but you will also have a greater variety of photos by which to remember your travels.
Get “The Shot” and Then Get Out
Of course, if you’re traveling to Rio de Janiero, a photo of Christ the Redeemer is a must-have. If you’re traveling to London, Big Ben should be on your list of shots to get. There’s nothing wrong with wanting your own postcard shot of an iconic location. But if you want to explore pushing your boundaries, when you get to those iconic locations, get “the shot” and then get out. Force yourself to walk around, find new vantage points, and discover ways to make your compositions new and interesting. Be willing to work for different shots and have your camera out and ready to photograph things that come up along the way. If you can do these things, you will have many more fun memories of your trip, and the photos to go along with them.