This post was written by James Mathews.
Whether you’re a social media influencer, a travel blogger or just have an interest in taking better photos of your family while on holiday this is the post for you.
In this article, we will share some tips which can take your photos to the next level and help you create stunning photos that you will cherish for many years to come. You don’t need the latest expensive equipment either, but a DSLR camera is recommended as it gives you more flexibility over your images.
You can check our best DSLR guide for beginners here if you are not sure what camera you could use on your travels.
Create interesting compositions
Most photographers when starting their photography journey make the mistake of putting the subject of their image directly in the middle, this leads to boring photos and isn’t going to make your photos stand out.
When taking photos be sure to use the rule of thirds for your composition as it can make it a lot more interesting. For those who don’t know what the rule of thirds is, think of an image broken down horizontally and vertically into thirds, you should then try to place your subject into the top right section, bottom right section, top left section or bottom left section.
You can easily do this by using your camera’s viewfinder. With all of this said, you don’t have to do this with every shot if you did photography would become boring quickly. However, by playing around with your composition you are going to find compositions that suit your style of photos.
Experimenting with angles
Photographers can seem like a weird bunch of people as you always see them hanging over walls, lying on the ground, hanging out of windows, standing on top of objects and generally being in places where normal people wouldn’t be.
But the reason why photographers do this is to create more interesting angles for their photos. Being low on the ground or high up can give a much more interesting view of a subject that we may have seen a thousand times at eye level.
You may look crazy to others, but next time you are taking your travel photos try different levels and angles. We’ve all seen photos of the Eiffel Tower in Paris from street level but how much cooler would a photo of it be from directly above.
While most of us don’t have the budget to hire a helicopter to take photos of the Eiffel tower, we can still use this tip to get more creative with our travel photography.
Experiment with shutter speeds
There are only so many times you can look at photos of the Sydney Opera House before thinking you have seen them all, and this is true with most travel photos. Experimenting with different techniques is going to make your photos different and will create more interest so people will view them.
Playing with shutter speeds on your camera can create images that are different. If you have ever been to Rome you may have taken photos of the Trevi Fountain which probably looked like everyone else’s.
If you slow the shutter speed down on your camera and rest it on something steady such as a wall or a tripod if you have one you can create some outstanding images. Longer shutter speeds will capture still objects in crisp detail while the hustle and bustle going on in the foreground will create interesting motion blurs.
Try different apertures
If you are lucky enough to have lenses for your camera that have fast apertures (f/1.8mm to 2.8mm) you can create some amazing photos where you can blow the background out completely and just focus on the subject in the foreground.
In most instances, you are going to want to capture all of the scene and not blur any of it, but now and again to switch your photos up the bokeh effect can be used to make your subjects pop.
To achieve the bokeh effect you will want to use a fast aperture lens f/2.8 and quicker is going to be better, along with longer focal lengths. The 70mm-200mm focal length is great for creating a blurred background, but it is a big lens so carrying it while travelling could be problematic.
Create a sense of scale
For travel and landscape photography including something to showcase the sense of scale is a great way of making your images more interesting. If you are photographing a mountain but have no way to put its sheer size into perspective then the image becomes dull.
The same can be said for photographing impressive buildings such as Florence’s El Duomo or Rome’s Coliseum. Without perspective, these buildings may not create much interest but by putting a person or another object in the foreground you can show off how impressive these buildings really are.
Shoot at different times of the day
Shooting at different times of the day is going to create different moods for your photos. The Amalfi coast in Italy when photographed at day time gives off amazing views of the ocean and the colours of the buildings make for a beautiful picture.
The Amalfi Coast photographed at night however has a much more romantic feel to it, it’s beautifully lit and looks like a different place completely compared to the day.
In landscape photography photographers talk about the “golden hour” which is an hour before sunset and an hour after sunrise where the light is usually softer. The golden hour is a great time to take photos but by limiting your time to just before sunset or just after sunrise you are limiting the moods of images you can create.
Frame your photos with objects
One of my favourite tips for making your travel photos look more interesting is by using objects to frame them. People can be posed in doorways and objects can be framed through other buildings and windows and you can also use nature to show off what you want the viewer to look at.
Rather than taking a photo close up of the leaning tower of Pisa, you could take a picture through the window of a building close by to get a different look and feel to your photo.
Pay attention to the background and edges
A good photo is about what you leave out of the frame as much as what you include. If you do capture objects or people in your image in the background or at the edges you can sometimes edit them out but most of the time they end up ruining your image.
The same can also be true if you zoom in too much on your subject and you end up cutting out important details that would have improved the photo. Just be mindful of this next time you are taking travel photos and your images will improve.
Making your photos more engaging for your audience
Photography to some may be a hobby, while to others it’s a way of making an income. In this section, we will talk about how you can make your photos more engaging and potentially make some money from them.
You may own a travel blog or you could want to be an influencer on Instagram. Whatever your story these next few tips will help you get the most out of your pictures when posting them on social media.
Shoot square for Instagram
Instagram is the social media platform for travel photographers and unlike other social media platforms, such as Twitter or Facebook, your options for aspect ratios are limited. In fact, a square crop is the ideal aspect ratio for Instagram.
You should take this into consideration when framing or composing your shots as what looks good on your computer screen may look terrible when you upload it to Instagram.
You don’t want to limit all your photos to a square frame because that will kill your creativity and will limit the quality of your images, but if you see a photo opportunity you could shoot it twice, once for your blog and once for Instagram.
Edit with software not filters
It’s tempting to edit your photos with filters when uploading them to social media accounts but you should take the time to edit your image professionally on software such as Adobe Lightroom or Adobe Photoshop.
Both Photoshop and Lightroom software can be used for a small monthly fee so you really don’t have an excuse not to use them. Instagram filters are quick to use but taking your time to edit your photos in the right way is going to take your images to the next level and will make them stand out from the many other photos on social media.
Use Instagram stories to expand your reach
If you have taken your photos, uploaded them to your social profiles and website you can get more engagement and drive more traffic to your brand by using Instagram stories.
At the time of writing over 300 million people per day are using Instagram stories to show off their content and you should be too. Using Instagram stories is another way to reuse your content to squeeze every last bit of detail out of it.
Quality over quantity
Look at any travel photographer on social media and you will notice they don’t tend to upload 100+ photos of the same place. What they do is pick out their best shots and then use those. This leads to a more interesting profile and as a result can boost your follower count and the engagement your post gets.
Whether you take photos for your business or want to take better photos for your family albums the above tips can give you a good foundation. Photography is all about experimenting and being creative but knowing foundational techniques can put you on the right path to becoming a better travel photographer.
About the author
When not travelling the world James Mathews blogs for Bounce Color a website that helps photographers and videographers edit their content quickly through the use of digital presets and assets.
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Alex is the owner and lead writer for Click and Learn Photography. An avid landscape, equine, and pet photographer living and working in the beautiful Lake District, UK, Alex has had his work featured in a number of high profile publications, including the Take a View Landscape Photographer of the Year, Outdoor Photographer of the Year, and Amateur Photographer Magazine.