Top tips for getting better travel photos

All photos by Arbie Creative Solutions

Travel photography is about documenting your journey, collecting moments and telling a story. It’s easy to take the same old touristy photos just like everyone else, but don’t you want to create something beautiful from your trips that you can share with friends and family? Here are some quick and easy tips to level up your travel photography.

HOW TO GET BETTER PHOTOS WITH YOUR PHONE

If you’re like me and don’t drag your DSLR camera everywhere, your go-to camera is probably your phone. And while keeping it in auto mode works well (especially with technology nowadays - really showing my age here but we didn’t even have colour phones until my mid teens), there are a few things you can do that will give a more professional edge to your photos.

Grid lines help you know where to place your subject. See how here I have placed the church (ie. my main subject) on the left hand line.

Here is the final photo that I edited using Snapseed.

Use manual settings, especially exposure! It makes such a difference to your shots, particularly if you are somewhere bright and sunny. It helps to bring down the exposure slightly so you don’t blow out the highlights.

 

Switch on your grid lines. This is a great way to nail your compositions. If you don’t already know about the ‘Rule of Thirds’ then in short it’s using a grid of guidelines so you know where to place your subject or horizon. Where the lines cross are the ‘strongest’ points of the composition, so for example if you are taking a portrait of someone then place them on one of the vertical lines with their eye on the crossing point.

 

Post-production. If you want to make your photos pop a little more, edit them like a pro using apps. My go-to editing app is Snapseed as it has some great presets and you can do simple editing with the brightness, shadows and highlights. Lightroom is great as well.

WHAT SHOULD YOU PHOTOGRAPH?

You want to tell a story of your travels through your photos, and I find the best way to do this is to take photographs of the little things; little details that catch your eye. They tell a much deeper story of a place and give a more intimate glimpse into the character of the city.

This is a series of photos I took when I first lived in Rome, Italy. I love to photograph details, to me it's an adventure in itself to wander away from the main tourist sights, get lost in the winding streets and find things you never would have seen otherwise. Sometimes shooting in black & white can really compliment the character of the city and, for cities such as Rome, can emphasise it's timelessness.

Try and get unique shots. Instead of taking the same photo that we’ve all seen before on tourist sites and on instagram, think about finding a new way or a different angle that you can use to capture it. Have you even seen a photographer lying on the ground and thought what the hell are they doing? That’s what it takes to get a new perspective on a shot - yes you may look ridiculous but the photo you get after is so worth it.

Find that new angle! These photos are from a beautiful Mosque I went to when I was in Oman, and this is the amazing ceiling of the main room. It wasn't hard to get a good shot of this ceiling, as the room did most of the work for me, the level of detail here was stunning. However to get a more artistic photo I knew that standing directly under the chandelier would create an extra special photograph, using the ideas of symmetry and pattern can really enhance the subject.

Isn't it interesting how different two photos of the same subject can be? 

However, my best tip to getting photos of the main attractions is to get there early. And I mean crazy early! If you aim to get there by sunrise you will hopefully beat the crowds, and your photographs will really benefit. Plus those first rays of sunlight are beautiful, and will really enhance your pictures.

PUT SOMEONE IN THE PHOTO

Want another easy way to get better travel photographs? Put someone in them. Whether it’s locals going about their daily business, or your friends & family that you are travelling with, or even just yourself, adding people to your photographs injects a sense of energy and purpose to an otherwise static shot.

Here are some shots I took while on my travels in India and Iceland. I feel in particular the black & white photo from Iceland would have been an average shot if it didn't have any people in it, but because there are it adds a bit of mystery and motion to the image, especially because they are silhouetted. While the other two are examples of incorporating locals into your photography, (if you are going to sell your photos or put them on a stock site make sure you have model release forms for anyone in the image).

Remember the Rule of Thirds guidelines when placing your subject to get the best composition - this includes selfies as well. If you are travelling alone you can ask someone to help you take the photo. You can take the time to show them the rough shot you want to get by holding the phone at the right angle and pointing to the grid lines to show where you are going to stand. You can even use my trick of leaning your phone up against something and using the self timer - that way you can take as long as you want to get ‘The Shot’ and don’t need to bother anyone!

Always pay close attention to your background too - you don’t want to have a lamppost coming out the top of someone’s head. Be on the lookout for backgrounds with colours that compliment what you or your subject are wearing, that way you’ll create a flattering and aesthetically pleasing photograph that highlights your subject as well.

This shot of me was taken by a lovely local photographer in iItaly. Check out her instagram @minashfoto. I think my pink outfit is really complimented by the neutral tones of the background.

Or you can get your travel buddy to take a photo of you. This was an amazing castle we visited in Portugal, it was lucky that I was also wearing primary colours that matched the background!

Here is a selfie I took because I loved the orange tone of this wall. Location tip: always be on the lookout for different coloured walls in the city you visit, it's a simple way to get a quick backdrop for a nice selfie.

If you utilise all these tips and tricks then you should be capturing beautiful photographs when you are off traveling in no time. If you do need a little more help, please feel free to reach out with any photography questions, and I’ll be happy to share some more pointers!

If you want to see more of my travel photos or just see what I'm up to at the moment,

check out my social media.

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Devon, United Kingdom

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