Basic Tips to Becoming a Better Travel Photographer
He was clearly frustrated because he had just climbed down 60-stories to gain his vantage point at the brink of the falls, and he was seemingly incapable of getting the photograph he desired.
Trust me, I’ve kicked myself numerous times in our travels for the very same reason.
The moral to the story is that we must spend some time getting to know our cameras at home BEFORE we’re standing in front of a once-in-a-lifetime photographic opportunity.
Here are a few at-home photography tips to consider:
How to Become a Better Travel Photographer:
- Become a student of your camera – I know this sounds like drudgery, but you really must haul out your owner’s manual and become comfortable with the basic functions of your camera. A month before you’re set to head out on vacation, set out a schedule to read and practice the various functions of your camera in your own backyard.
- Understand your camera’s scene modes – It is highly likely that your camera has a variety of basic scene modes. Attempting to always shoot your photographs using the green program mode is certain to cause frustration because there are just too many light variables for the program mode to consider. By using the scene modes, you’re telling your camera that you are shooting a landscape, a beach scene, fireworks, or various other common photographic situations, and the camera is designed to give you a better photograph with this important information. For example, if your camera has a “museum mode”, the camera is designed to accommodate a photograph in lower light situations and not fire the flash. This will keep you out of hot water with the museum guards!
- Check out your camera manufacturer’s website – Most camera manufacturers host a website filled with photo tips for their customers. It is highly likely that you will find videos, and tutorials designed to help you better understand the use of your camera.
- Head over to YouTube – It’s really quite amazing how many instructive videos that you will find on YouTube from folks using your specific camera. I use a Nikon D7000 in my travel photography, and I’ve learned a lot from fellow D7000 users sharing their knowledge freely on YouTube. Try it, you’ll like it.
- Understand light – Photography, at it’s most basic level, is about capturing light on your camera’s sensors. Spend some time understanding how various light situations might affect your photographs. For example, a common lighting mistake is shooting your subject in front of a bright background. Without firing your flash in these situations, you subjects will appear as shadows.
- Understand basic photographic composition – Placing your subjects dead center in your photograph generally makes for a less compelling photograph. Do a little research on “the rule of thirds”. For example, if you look at my photograph above, I’ve placed my subject in the right third of my photograph. This tends to give the photograph breathing room to better tell your story. In this case, the struggling photographer against the mighty power of the water fall.
- Be prepared – This probably goes without saying, but make certain that you bring along items that your camera will need to capture those special travel moments. These things might include a camera case, lens cleaner, extra batteries, battery charger, and extra/larger memory card(s).
- Back-up your photos each day – imagine taking hundreds of beautiful photographs, and then having your camera lost/stolen. If possible, bring a notebook computer along to back your photographs up each night. Better safe than sorry.
The most important tip of all is practice, practice, practice, and to do it at home before you head off on vacation.
I hope you find value in these tips. If you like, I’d be happy to handle any questions you might have. Just leave your question in the comments section below.
If you enjoyed this article, sign up for our monthly newsletter to keep abreast of our best travel tips, on-location reviews, exclusive travel offers, group travel events, and much more.