How to take better travel photos

Take better travel photos

My secrets to better travel photos? Where do I even start?! I get lots of questions on Instagram about my photography and about my gear, especially about my gear.

While I believe gear is important, I stand by the fact that it is not indispensable. The most important thing is to be comfortable with using the equipment you already have. In the hands of someone with no experience, a fancy camera can give you worse results than an iPhone camera.

I almost never travel with experienced photographers; my photographers are my friends, family members, or even strangers (yes, that happens more often than you think), so obviously, many of my photos are taken with my phone. On the other side, I take my DSLR everywhere, and I prefer taking raw photos, simply because raw files don’t have any white balance settings, which makes it easier to adjust the temperature and exposure when editing a file.

Mastering photography takes a lot of practice, and like creativity, it is a skill to be learned and developed.
I hope my secrets will help you improve your photography and give you a bit of confidence that it is possible to have better shots without investing a tremendous amount of money into gear.

How to have better travel photos

Plan ahead

The first thing that made a massive difference in my travel photography is planning ahead. Planning ahead does not mean simply looking for inspiration or researching what a city has to offer. It means more than taking mental notes, it means knowing every detail of your shooting location. The closing and opening hours, the most popular visiting times (you want to avoid crowds, don’t you?), know the colors of a specific location and accessorize accordingly.

Don’t run away from bad weather 

My best photos were taken during the cloudiest and windiest days. That’s because an overcast day produces a stunning soft light. A windy day can be a blessing if you accessorize your outfit with light fabrics. You don’t need a long dress, a light scarf will make it. 

Weather is always unpredictable when traveling, if you want to have beautiful photos, you must learn to embrace the rain but protect your gear. Calling it quits because of bad weather before you even snap a photo is unquestionably a mistake.

Find some Instagrammable Locations

How to have better travel photos

Choose the best time

Unfortunately, we cannot control the natural light in an outdoor shot, but we can always choose the best time to get astonishing outcomes.

The golden hour – probably every photographer’s favorite time for shooting. Usually, the first hour of light after sunrise and the last hour of light before sunset. It’s the time when the light becomes warmer and the shadows softer. There is even a golden hour calculator for your location that helps you find the best shooting time.

The blue hour – another favorite time to shoot for the ones who love night photography. The blue hour occurs before sunrise in the morning and after sunset in the evening. 

Find your creativity and uniqueness 

You don’t need an expensive camera to take the best shots, but you need some creativity. In my opinion, a creative image is defined by the viewer’s stopping power. The patterns usually draw the eye in to a photograph, capturing details in which there are repeating shapes, lines, colors, or simply playing with the contrast will make every viewer stop and take a closer look. 

I also like to have a lot of movement when it comes to being photographed, moving around makes posing less awkward. If your photographer is taking photos very quickly, you’ll have a lot of different options when choosing your favorite and most unique shot.

Learn to pay attention to details, look for patterns, move, find some unique angles, or simply tell a story. How did the shot happen? What makes your photo unique? What kind of message is it sending?

How to have better travel photos

Understand some basic rules

Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.” – Picasso

Of course, you can break the rules, but remember, in photography, those rules are there to make your photos more appealing.

There is one rule that I try to never break, that is cropping off limbs at the joint, it is just way too distracting to me.

Another important rule is the rule of thirds. I’ll admit it, I sometimes break this rule intentionally, but for most parts, I try to use it whenever I’m trying to draw the viewer’s eye at the composition, instead of letting him glance at the center of the photo.

The rule of thirds is a basic rule, about splitting an image into nine equal imaginary sections by a set of vertical and horizontal lines, the essential elements in your shot should be placed on one of the lines or where the lines meet. 

Don’t overexpose

I hate overexposure. I think it is the one thing that could seriously ruin a good photo. When too much light is allowed during exposure, your image will lose a lot of details, regardless if you are post-processing your photos or not. I’d rather have a slightly under-exposed photo that I can then later brighten with editing, instead of having the image ruined with over-exposure.

Here is an example of an overexposed photo. I really like the shot, but no matter how much I try to correct the highlights and the harsh lines they still show up. Take a look at the sky, it is almost white and the sharp horizon line looks almost like not being part of the picture.

(P.S. these images are optimized not to slow down the blog, so if you need to see them in their full glory, send me a dm on Instagram)

What do you think of these tips? 

I hope they were helpful. And since you read till the end, I have one free Lightroom preset for you.

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18 responses to “How to take better travel photos”

  1. Great tips for taking awesome photos! Thank you for all the examples and photos! And thank you for your preset! 😀


  2. Lovely photos and some great tips! You are so right about the weather. In college I had a fabulous opportunity to briefly travel with a National Geographic photographer. When a storm was about to roll through, we dropped everything we were doing to go out and shoot. Sometimes the light in these moments can be stunning!


  3. Super useful tips! Very true about cloudier days producing the best photos, sometimes direct midday sun can totally ruin the lighting!
    Gorgeous photos – especially the one of you on the rocks.


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