Ideas from an novice journey photographer on learn how to take higher journey photographs.

I’m solely an novice photographer, however over the previous 5 years as I’ve traveled the world as a digital nomad, I’ve acquired a variety of good compliments about my photograph’s, each on social media and in our newsletter. I’ve even had some requests for recommendation on learn how to take higher journey photographs.

So I figured it was time to share a few of what I’ve realized about journey images.

Associated learn: Street Photography Gear (Including Best Street Photography Camera)

I use Pixels for my travel photos
Personally, I’m an enormous of fan of Pixels for the standard of their cameras.

Methods to take higher journey photographs

Don’t fear: this isn’t a super-geeky information about fancy cameras or learn how to use apertures or f-stops. As a result of, frankly, I don’t know what an f-stop is, and I take pics with a Pixel 4a.

Which brings me to our first subject.

Digicam vs Telephone

The extra severe I grew about my journey images, the extra I agonized over whether or not I must be utilizing a correct digital camera somewhat than my Pixel cellphone. I did quite a lot of analysis and got here away with these conclusions:

Digicam telephones have made enormous strides through the years when it comes to high quality. Frankly, what most digital camera telephones can do immediately is extraordinary.

However! They will’t do every thing. Even immediately, zooming with a cellphone digital camera doesn’t produce the very best quality. So for those who’re hoping to be knowledgeable photographer or take completely professional-looking photos, you’ll most likely wish to spend money on a correct digital digital camera.

However! These telephones will be very costly. And complex to make use of. On high of that, you’ll nearly definitely find yourself needing totally different lenses, tripods, and different gear. This may all be a bit overwhelming.

What’s the take-away? Get a digital camera if you would like, however there’s completely no disgrace in merely utilizing your cellphone both. The way in which I see it, one of the best digital camera is the one you have got with you once you actually wish to take an image. And your cellphone might be at all times going to be with you. Simply sayin’.

I’d get a correct digital camera one among as of late. However I’m not planning on it any time quickly.


The “composition” of a photograph is the way in which wherein you organize and body the objects within the photograph.

Critical photographers say one of the necessary elements of composition includes one thing referred to as “the rule of the thirds.” That’s once you divide your image into 9 equal sectors utilizing two horizontal strains and two vertical strains. These imaginary strains can assist you body your objects.

You may as well consider the previous Brady Bunch opening credit, besides with out the Bradys.

How to take better travel photos using composition
Me, left, The Bradys, proper.

You would possibly assume that placing the central object within the heart of the photograph is finest, proper the place Alice is. And it may be! However that can be a bit static or boring.

So take into account placing your object within the left or proper column, particularly aligning it on the intersection of the imaginary strains — proper between Jan and Alice, and even Carol and Greg.

By placing your topic at one of many intersection factors, you allow room for the viewer’s eyes to maneuver across the picture and discover the image, somewhat than merely trying on the topic and transferring on.

Additionally necessary to composition are “main strains” and “symmetry.” Keep in mind once I mentioned you shouldn’t heart the objects in your photograph?

Generally it is best to, particularly for those who can make the most of some aspect that focuses the photograph. Main strains, just like the stone path and partitions within the photograph on the left, under, draw the attention to a particular level. In the meantime, symmetry is when totally different parts in a photograph match or mirror one another.

How to take better travel photos using symmetry
Main strains and symmetry!

In relation to composition, all these parts can come into play without delay: the Brady Bunch rule, symmetry, and main strains.

Greater than something, although, your photograph is dictated by what you’re taking an image of. What would make the photograph as fascinating as doable?

As an illustration, an image of the Acropolis surrounded by the “symmetry” of some timber may be fairly cool. However what about if there’s an previous Greek man standing in entrance of it? He turns into a “main line” on to the Acropolis, however he’s additionally positioned off to 1 aspect, between Cindy and Mike Brady, to make the composition extra fascinating.

A travel photo of a man standing and looking at the Acropolis in Athens, Greece
After taking dozens of photographs of the Acropolis, I noticed this older man and knew an image of him trying on the Acropolis was THE image.

Additionally, at all times take into account the angle you shoot issues from. My knees HATE me for it, however I’m continually crouching down so I can shoot up at one thing. Heck, I’ll typically lie flat on my again with the intention to get the image I would like.

That is often the purpose the place my husband Brent pretends he doesn’t know me.

And getting all the way down to your topic’s stage can actually assist seize a greater sense of who or what they’re, whether or not they be kids, canines, or flowers.

Sitting in shorts in scorpion-infested Texas scrub in order to take this picture…may not have been my most brilliant idea.
Sitting in shorts in scorpion-infested Texas scrub with the intention to take this image…might not have been my most good concept.

Lighting/The Golden Hour

In relation to lighting, right here’s a rule that’s fairly agency: the sunshine is often finest at dawn or sundown. Mid-day means the solar shall be immediately overhead, and that gentle will be harsh. It will possibly make objects look flat and fewer enticing.

The time shortly earlier than and after dawn and sundown is known as “the golden hour,” as a result of it’s, effectively, golden. The sunshine is softer because it has to journey by way of extra ambiance. That causes it to be extra diffuse and hotter with a lot of reds and golds. Golden hour gentle can be kinder to pores and skin tones, and it creates a variety of fascinating shadows.

Alas, the golden hour isn’t a complete hour lengthy. All of it depends upon the time of yr due to planetary orbits and ellipses and different scientific-y issues that make my head harm.

Typically, I’ll rise up earlier than daybreak to get these ten treasured minutes of excellent lighting. That is one other time when Brent would possibly fake to not know me, besides he’s often again in our house, sleeping.

Then once more, if nice photographs had been straightforward, everybody would take them.

Take photos during golden hour for the best light
This lighting is extra treasured than precise gold…

Another excuse I go for the morning golden hour for images? As a result of even at fashionable vacationer points of interest, I typically have locations nearly fully to myself. I get higher photos and I get a greater expertise with out having to struggle the crowds.

So right here’s one other essential novice photographers’ tip: when you’ve taken your photographs, put aside time to easily savor the expertise.

My favourite morning golden hour moments so far?

  • The highest of the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, the place, after taking my photographs, I simply stood and took in that superior view of Rome.
  • On the Charles Bridge in Prague the place I froze my butt off to seize the mist rising off the river.

One different be aware concerning the golden hour, both at dawn or sundown: clouds will be both your finest pal or your worst enemy.

Clouds sitting proper on the horizon can block the rising or setting solar, ruining every thing. Or if they’re the correct peak they’ll catch the rays, turning spectacular reds and golds and even purple for those who’re fortunate, all whereas reflecting the sunshine again to the bottom and doubling their impression.

The light of the setting sun reflecting off of the bottom of clouds in Split, Croatia
The sunshine of the setting solar reflecting off of the underside of clouds in Break up, Croatia.

Individuals matter

Landscapes are lovely, however what are at all times my hottest photographs on social media?

Footage of me and my husband.

Which is sensible. Individuals actually are fascinating — and Brent a minimum of could be very good-looking. And for those who’re an novice journey photographer, you’re most likely most considering taking photos of you and your pals anyway.

That mentioned, the period of selfies is kinda over. So take into account all of the above strategies when taking photos of individuals too.

Travel photos with people
The creator on the left, his husband on the correct.

Oh, and right here’s a tip on learn how to get probably the most pure smile out of your topic: inform them not to consider intercourse. That nearly at all times will get fun.

Do I Must Edit? Plus, What’s JPEG vs RAW?

You don’t wish to should “edit” your pics, proper? I didn’t both. I admit at first I used to be a bit petrified of the know-how.

However don’t be. If I used to be capable of grasp what I’m about to let you know, you possibly can too.

Whenever you go into the superior settings of your cellphone’s digital camera, there’s a place the place you possibly can select whether or not you need your digital camera to save lots of your pics as both JPEG or RAW information.

These are settings that decide how a lot info the file created by the digital camera’s picture sensor retains of every photograph.

When you select JPEG, your digital camera will robotically do some very primary processing and let you do some additional primary enhancing to make your photographs look a bit nicer.

Simply not that a lot nicer.

However once you shoot in RAW, you should utilize enhancing software program to take all of that further info captured by your digital camera to edit your photograph.

I’m positive greater than as soon as, you’ve taken an image, checked out it, and thought, “Huh, that isn’t actually nearly as good as I believed it appeared.”

Which is since you’re nearly definitely capturing in JPEG.

Check out these two photographs.

Tips for editing your travel photos
About thirty seconds price of enhancing helped give this image much more life.

The highest pic is sort of blah and doesn’t actually pop. In the meantime, the colour and readability of the second photograph is means higher. The picture is way crisper.

That’s as a result of when you’ve got the RAW file — which I did — then you should utilize enhancing software program to regulate the publicity, distinction, colour saturation, and fairly a number of different issues.

And, no, you aren’t “dishonest.” All you’re doing is what skilled photographers have at all times executed. (However you are able to do it badly, making photographs look over-saturated or over-contrasted. A part of what makes a photograph “good” is that it captures actuality. That ought to at all times be the aim.)

You are able to do some enhancing in your cellphone, or in Google Photograph. There are additionally free enhancing apps like Snapseed. Personally, I exploit Adobe Lightroom, which prices me $10 USD a month, as a result of I like the extra choices, and since it’s really easy to make use of and comes with nice tutorials.

However truthfully, even a bit enhancing could make a world of distinction.

Amount can imply extra high quality

Questioning learn how to take higher journey photographs? Take a lot of them. The extra you are taking, the extra you’ll have to select from. And the higher a photographer you’ll grow to be.

Guess what number of photos I at the moment have in my Adobe Lightroom folder proper now?


And that is solely the variety of edited photographs. The entire variety of pics I’ve taken is…effectively, I don’t wish to say, as a result of Brent will learn this text sooner or later, and I wish to keep believable deniability.

You completely don’t must take this many photographs. I’m sort of a nut.

However as with every ability, the extra you apply, the higher you’ll grow to be.

Extra suggestions for taking higher journey photographs

Listed below are a number of extra issues I’ve realized on learn how to take higher journey photographs:

  • Transfer round as you are taking your photographs. Greater than as soon as, I’ve thought I’d taken all one of the best photographs — or thought the topic was too boring to make a very good image — solely to maneuver up or down, or sideways, to find a brisker angle.
  • Analysis a location forward of time. I admit that I’ll go to Instagram and get hold of pics of various places I may be considering. Or I’ll Google “finest place to take photos in Amsterdam.” There’s nothing flawed with benefiting from the work of others. Even for those who go to the identical spot to take a photograph, all kinds of issues shall be totally different: the sunshine, the climate, and so forth. It’s straightforward to discover a strategy to make the photograph your individual.
  • Simply stroll. When Brent and I arrive in a brand new location, we take a look at the “well-known” spots pretty rapidly. However then we discover. And that’s often the place I get the good things.
  • Even for those who don’t do a lot (or any) enhancing, a minimum of take into account cropping your photos. Cropping enables you to repair some errors, transfer your topic to a type of intersection factors, and produce parts out in your photograph that you just may not have even recognized had been there.
  • Develop your “photographer’s eyes” and at all times maintain them open. Truthfully, I feel images has helped me have a look at my environment rather more carefully. And now I at all times discover sudden alternatives for nice photographs in all places.
  • Take the shot when you have got it! Greater than as soon as, I’ve been out strolling about, seen one thing I wished to take an image of and thought, “Oh, I’ll get that later.” Besides once I return, the sunshine is flawed. Or I can’t keep in mind the place I used to be within the first place. (This occurs extra once you rise up earlier than daybreak lots!)

Crucial tip of all

Take the images you need for the explanations you need.

You’re most likely not studying this text to grow to be knowledgeable photographer. As amateurs, we take journey photographs as a result of we take pleasure in it, and to seize our recollections of the locations we’ve visited and the folks we all know.

Certain, you’ll most likely share your photographs on social media, however nobody will admire them the way in which you do. They’re your recollections, in any case.

Do not forget that. Do that for you.

As for remainder of my recommendation, use no matter sounds helpful and ignore the remainder.

Michael Jensen is an creator, editor, and one half of Brent and Michael Are Going Locations, a few touring homosexual digital nomads. Subscribe to their free travel newsletter here.

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