So here’s the deal; you’ve been saving for forever to take the trip of a lifetime to Italy or Kenya or Nepal or Australia. You’ve been dreaming, thinking, and imagining all the amazing things you’re going to see and experience. The only thing is that you want to be able to get just as amazing photographs so that you can relive the experience again and again. Well, lucky for you, we’ve come up with a little list to help you get all the amazing travel photos you want and be able to come hope happy and not depressed that you missed something.
1. RESEARCH BEFORE YOU LEAVE
Go out and get the best travel guide you can find. Look up everything about the locations you will be visiting and scout out places you want to get and the time of day that will be best for it. Look up natural spots, tourist sites and all that the location has to offer. Look up cultural norms and what is going to be acceptable when photographing. Additionally look up transportation and how long it will take you to get to these locations. 100 miles in Sri Lanka takes WAY longer to travel than 100 miles in France.
2. AVOID CLICHES
Don’t return with only the images that you’ve seen all over the Internet. While photos of the Eiffel Tower are great, maybe it time people tried shooting it from a new angle instead of only the traditional straight on view (I’m not saying don’t get that as well). Use new angles and try get to viewpoints that are not traditionally used for photos. Leave the tourist path and get away from the bus. If you can afford it, hire a private guide to take you off the beaten track.
3. PACK LIGHT
Use a zoom lens that covers wide-angle to telephoto. You don’t want to spend all day switching lenses and wishing you didn’t have lug around such a big case. A heavy camera bag is going to get really old after a couple of days of walking around. Also, make sure it can fit in a carry-on bag. Don’t risk checking you camera case and having all your gear stolen.
Don’t Do This
4. INVEST IN A GOOD TRIPOD
The best photos come in low light and when you get back with noisy photos. A good tripod is going to get you better photos, its just that simple. If you’ve got a little extra money invest in a high quality carbon fiber tripod. Even though it will cost a little more it will weigh half as much which can mean the difference in a good versus bad photo day.
5. TAKE PORTRAITS
People are what make the location. Take a little time and get to know the locals. Every time I go somewhere, some of my favorite photos are those of the local people. You’ve got to respect local culture and know if its acceptable to photograph certain people. If people don’t want their photo taken they will usually be very clear about it so respect their decision.
6. TELL A STORY
Shoot a series of photographs in a location that will be able to tell a story about what is going on. Local markets and events are great for this as they will show local dress and how people interact with each other. Make friends with locals and have them show you around. Tell the story of how a place lives, not just its prettiest buildings.
7. TAKE A FAST LENS
Make sure you take a fast lens (a lens with a large aperture) so you can shoot in low light where they don’t allow flash or tripods. Many museums and religious buildings have strict guidelines about what is and is not acceptable for photographers and sometimes you will need all the light you can get.
I know, this one is a little weird but it’s the key to awesome photos. If you are trying to get a photo of a location and someone is in the way or you want to take someone’s portrait, people will by much happier to help out if you are smiling and having a good time. Seriously, this totally works!
9. DON’T SLEEP
Well, maybe you can sleep a littleJ. Even though it’s a vacation the best photos are at sunrise and sunset so wake up a little early and go get them. Also, night photographs are amazing and really show how a city’s vibe.
10. DON’T SKIMP ON PHOTOS
So often we look as something and think; “its ok but I’ll shoot it on the way back”. DON’T DO THIS!!!! Don’t miss out on great shots because you were being lazy. I’m lazy and I kick myself every time I do this, so when you see something that may be even remotely cool just shoot it.
11. FOCUS ON THE DETAILS
When photographing something we have a tendency to focus on the grand scene as opposed to the small details. While this is great, we miss out on some really cool shots by only doing this. Look for unique things wherever you are, whether they are doors, plants, natural patterns or whatever. It’s the little things that will make your photos different from everyone else’s!
© 2014, Tony. All rights reserved.