How to Take a Great Travel Photo

How to Take a Great Travel Photo

Posted June 16, 2016

One of the best parts of traveling to different parts of the world is capturing those places through photography.  Whether it’s a classic monument, an unspoiled vista, or your traveling companions having the time of their lives, each travel photo acts as a living memory.  And with the proliferation of digital cameras and smartphones, it’s easier than ever to take a great-looking photograph without professional equipment.

There is a difference, however, between snapping a picture and composing a photograph.  Photography may be accessible to more people than ever, but the art of the perfect shot is still difficult to master.  If you want your vacation photos to stand out from the crowd’s, take a look at some of our tips below.

Compose your shot

Recording a memory of your time at the Eiffel Tower is great.  Composing an artistic photograph which includes this landmark is even better. Some guidelines for photo composition include:

  1. Follow the rule of thirds – Divide your viewfinder into a 3x3 grid (many smartphones allow you to enable this feature in their settings).  Place photo subjects or interesting visual elements at points where these gridlines meet.  Align horizontal and vertical grid lines with elements in the photo (i.e., for sunset photos, put the horizon along the bottom gridline and the sky in the top 2/3 of the photo).
  1. Frame smart – Photos, like sentences, should contain nothing unnecessary.  Ensure the entirety of the photo, top to bottom and left to right, is interesting.  Using elements of the photo to frame your subject is one way to create an engaging visual, so look for trees, arches, or buildings to use as an in-photo frame.
  1. Combine people, places, and things – The definition of a noun is a great place to start when taking a quality photo.  If your magnificent view is looking lonely, or that massive bridge doesn’t properly convey its scale, add a human subject as a counterpoint.  If you’re at a major landmark and want a unique twist to your photo, add a sense of place – perhaps the top of Big Ben peeking through London’s fog, or Rome’s Colosseum with a cup of cappuccino in the foreground.

Get physical

Now that you’ve framed your shot, here are a few things to keep in mind when taking the photo.

  1. Go sideways – When shooting with a digital camera or smartphone, it’s most often appropriate to take the photo with the device horizontally.  Many smartphones allow you to take a photo this way by pressing the volume buttons on the side like a regular camera's shutter button.
  1. Hoof it – Oftentimes, you are your best zoom lens. If you see a spot from which you’ll be able to snap a great shot, make a point to check it out.
  1. Find the light – Lighting is key in photography, and most times the best light comes during the beginning or end of the day, when the sun is low and the light is soft.  These are known as the golden hours, and the interplay of light and shadow at these times creates breathtaking images.
  1. Ask permission – When in a foreign country, it may be considered rude (or even illegal) to photograph local people. But many folks are very friendly and willing to pose for pictures – just make sure to ask.  Generally, an indication to your camera and a smile will do the trick when there’s a language barrier.

Follow these tips to capture stunning, memorable travel photos, and don’t forget to share some on our Facebook page.

Big Ben image via Flickr