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15 Travel Photography Tips To Help You Step Up Your Game

Jun 9, 2021 | Travel Tips

When we travel to new destinations, it’s only natural that we want to document every part of it. Having memories to relive and look back at is one of our favourite things to do. Although we do like to grab a good souvenir when we visit new places, taking photographs is one of the best ways to create memories. Once you get home you can plaster them on your walls, buy beautiful photo frames or even pay to have them made into a canvas. Then everytime you come home, you have a beautiful reminder of your past adventures, and also an inspiration to save for future ones!

Whether you have a camera or smartphone, taking good photographs is pretty easy. You just press a button, and there you go! If you want to take AMAZING photographs then there are some things you should know. Here are 15 travel photography tips to help you take the most epic travel photos!


1. Get up for sunrise if you want to avoid the crowds


When taking photographs of beautiful destinations, it can be difficult to avoid the crowds sometimes. If you are heading to popular spots, getting there super early is the best way to take photographs without lots of other people. It also means that you often get places all to yourself. This way, you can take your time, and make a mental note of all the different photographs you want to get without having to rush.

The other benefit to this is that you get to explore places without shoving through crowds, and you can really take it all in. Here at One Life Adventures we love exploring destinations at sunrise; although we aren’t keen on the getting up super early part, I mean who is?

The sun rising over a field

2. Carry a tripod with you

If you want to take photographs of yourself whilst travelling or even as a couple, then taking a tripod with you is the best way to do this! You can get a tripod either for a phone or camera, depending which one you use. They are easy to use and can give you some pretty amazing photographs. If you are setting your tripod up to take pictures of yourself it can feel pretty strange at first, and you might get the odd person glance at you curiously. However, they are probably just wondering why they didn’t think of doing the same thing!

Even if you don’t want to take photographs of yourself, tripods are a great way to take awesome photographs. If you have a shaky hand, then using a tripod is a great way to stabilize your camera and take sharper images. They are also really beneficial for shooting in low light as you can make your shutter speed faster, which is also known as long exposure. This technique is also used to capture light trails from cars, for example, or those beautiful water shots that seem to be frozen in time. It is only possible to get good results from this technique when using a tripod as the camera is stable, and isn’t moving at all.

You don’t have to choose a super expensive tripod, but it is best to do some research first especially if you are using it for a camera. Each type of tripod is different, and has a maximum weight capacity so you will need to check the weight of your camera and lens first. Another thing to remember is that if you go for a dirt cheap tripod, you will be missing out on quality. The likelihood is that the tripod won’t be very strong or stable, and if it falls just remember that your camera goes with it!

camera on a tripod taking a photograph at sunset

3. Head out during golden hour

Golden hour is one of the best times to head out for any photographer if you want to get stunning photographs. The famous golden hour takes place twice a day; roughly an hour after sunrise and then an hour before sunset. During this time the sun is at a lower position in the sky, meaning the lighting is very soft and warm. This gives your photographs a beautiful natural glow, and it is a lot easier to take photographs at this time of day than in the harsh light of the midday sun.

If you’re not a morning person, or you don’t go chasing sunsets like us; then you really should try too! Taking photographs during golden hour can make for some beautiful shots, and they are often a lot easier to edit too. This is because often if you take photographs during the day the sky can often appear blown out or the lighting conditions may be too harsh.

The natural glow over a field during golden hour

4. Remember the rule of thirds

The rule of thirds is a pretty easy term to remember when it comes to photography and it makes all the difference. It’s one of the most important things to know when it comes to composition. To make it easier for you, enable the setting that places a grid over your preview screen on your camera or your phone screen.
The idea of the ‘rule of thirds’ is to place the subject or point of interest along those lines and squares along the grid. This is because photographs taken this way often draw the eye in naturally and make the images more appealing.

If you are going to remember any of these travel photography tips, then this is the one! It can make such a difference when it comes to taking incredible travel photographs. Having said that composition is not the be all and end all. If you have a creative shot in mind but it doesn’t fit in with the rule of thirds, take it anyway! There is no rule book when it comes to travel photography and it’s important to do your own thing.

The grid on the preview screen of a camera

5. Research your destination before you head there

Luckily for us, the internet has a wealth of information about nearly every destination on the planet. You can search your destination on google, look for tips on Pinterest or even search on Instagram to find cool photo spots. This will help you scope out the photographs you want to take, and also the touristy ones you may want to avoid (if you are super creative and don’t want to follow the crowd).

Doing some research beforehand can also help when it comes to other things you should know. This includes whether you are allowed to use your camera in a specific area or whether you require a license (e.g. a commercial one). In certain places like some religious buildings, taking photographs isn’t allowed so you need to be respectful. The same goes for drones, so make sure you check the rules before you head to your destination.

For example, if you are visiting the Taj Mahal, there are certain things you need to remember. Drones are not allowed in the vicinity of the Taj Mahal for security purposes, so your drone will most likely be shot down, so don’t make that mistake! Tripods are also not allowed in the Taj either, so make sure you leave it in your hotel room.

A photograph of the Taj Mahal taken from one of the gates

6. Get creative with your angles

Being creative with angles when it comes to taking photographs can make the difference between a good photograph and an incredible one! If you are shooting a place that has been photographed many times before, it can be a good idea to look for an angle that hasn’t been shot before. This will make your images stand out and make them unique.

A different angle can make a photograph look very interesting, and can draw the eye in. If you post your images on Instagram, shooting your images at different angles has another benefit. If you take 5 or 6 different photographs of the same place but at different angles, you will have 5 more images to post than if you just took an image with one angle.

A photograph taking at a very low angle of a man looking out into the mountains

7. Explore your destination at different times of the day

If you really want to get to know a place, then make sure you explore it throughout different times of the day. Visiting a place at sunrise, midday and then at sunset can give you very different results, which is why it’s a good idea to give it a try.

The different lighting throughout the day will give you a completely different photograph, but the people and wildlife that live there will also make a difference. If you are travelling to Tokyo for example, you have the choice to take photographs on the subway during the daily morning commute or at night when the city comes to life. If you want to capture a glimpse into the everyday life of people who live in Tokyo it’s a great idea to shoot at every time of the day.

The sun setting over a river

8. Be patient when taking photographs

One of the most important tips for travel photography is to be patient. Whether it be people queuing for the same photo, weather conditions or the perfect lighting; a lot of things can come into play when taking the perfect photograph.

It’s incredibly rare that you will take your first photograph and it will be exactly what you hoped for. If that happens it’s either a fluke or you are very talented! More often than not, you will take 10-20 photographs of the same place before you find one that you are happy with.
If you want to take images of wildlife during your travels, patience is even more important. If you’ve ever been on a safari or even just to the zoo, you know how long it can take for the animals to even come out, let alone photograph them!

 Woman leaning on a tree to take photographs in a forest

9. Invest in a zoom lens if you want to photograph wildlife

If you want to have a go at wildlife photography during your travels and have a DSLR camera, then it’s a good idea to invest in a zoom lens. Depending on your camera, you can get hold of a decent zoom lens for as little as £120 to get you started.

If you are heading out on safari or a boat trip, the likelihood is that the wildlife you see will be quite far away. This is where a zoom lens comes in handy, as it gives you the opportunity to take shots of wildlife and still have incredible detail. If you stick with a standard lens, you may just end up with a black dot at the back of your image, and no one will ever know that the dot is actually an elephant that you were super lucky to see whilst travelling through Sri Lanka.

a photograph of a pride of lionesses

10. Be unique and creative

Every photographer has their own creative style and something that makes their work unique. When you start your photography journey you may just want to follow in the footsteps of others but as you progress you’ll naturally find your own style. It will come with time, and even when you think you’ve found it, you will undoubtedly change your style further.

Don’t worry about this too much when you’re starting out as you’ll have far too much to learn to even think about this! As you learn and grow your skills, you’ll figure out what you like about your own photography and what you’d like to further improve upon.

woman getting creative by using flowers to frame her shot

11. Learn how to shoot in manual mode

Learning to shoot in manual mode with your camera is key if you want to make the most out of your photography. Shooting in auto mode is great and a brilliant way to start, but manual mode is what will help you take your camera skills to the next level.

Shooting in manual mode allows you to be more creative with your photography and have greater control over the look of your photos. By changing the aperture, shutter speed and iso yourself, you will be able to produce a more unique look and style to the photos you take.
Whether that be taking a photo with a smaller f-stop to have a blurry background in your photos or increasing your shutter speed to get those crisp, frozen photos of a wild animal. Learning to shoot in manual mode will change the way you look at photography and will improve your photos massively.

Woman holding DSLR camera

12. Enrol in online workshops or photography classes

Enrolling in courses can be an excellent tool when trying to improve your photography skills. Whether you are just starting out or have plenty of experience under your belt, courses are a great way to learn. Whether you decide to take paid or free courses, you can learn plenty; ranging from the basic photography skills to shooting and editing photos in a highly technical way.

A wide variety of professional photographers offer free and paid courses. Maybe your favourite photographer does! If so, why not check it out, and learn how to take photographs and edit like them (but make sure you never lose your own creativity).

Not only are courses a good way to improve and learn, they can also be a good way just to see somebody elses process. Who knows it might give you some inspiration to try something new!


13. Practice, practice, practice

The old saying practice makes perfect really is the case when it comes to photography. Even your favourite photographer started somewhere and you can guarantee that if you ask them, they will tell you that it was only through taking hundreds upon thousands of photos that got them where they are today!

Practicing on a daily or weekly basis helps you not only develop key photography skills but it also prepares you for different scenarios. Taking different styles of shots in different conditions will test you and get you ready for the time you need it most.

For example by practising in sunny bright conditions and rainy, windy conditions you will be ready for the time you want to get that awesome shot and it is too sunny or too wet.

Woman taking photograph with a DSLR camera

14. Watch youtube videos to learn

As you’ve probably gathered by now there is a lot of learning when it comes to photography. As well as photography courses, watching YouTube videos are another great way to develop your skills. Whether you are sitting on the bus to work, eating your tea or sitting on a plane (hopefully in the near future), watching photography tutorials on this platform is a great way to spend your time.

There are so many incredible travel photographers that offer tutorials on YouTube like Sawyer Hartman, Peter Mckinnon and Chris Hau. They offer amazing tutorials on photography, editing and how to make money from your image’s. These videos are a great starting point, and there are plenty of other photographers on YouTube to choose from!

man watching youtube videos

15. Learn how to edit your photographs using software

Touching up your photographs after you’ve taken them can be just as important as the actual photograph. Learning to use Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop can really take your photography to the next level just by going through a few simple steps. When you first look at lightroom and photoshop they look very complicated, but if you just learn it one step at a time, it becomes easy to grasp the most important aspects.

When it comes to using Lightroom there are lots of helpful things you do to touch up your photographs. You can edit your image’s brightness, contrast, sharpness to start off and then progress to changing the grade of colours throughout your image’s.

Photoshop is useful when it comes to removing elements out of your image’s like a person in the way, or for adding layers onto your photographs. You can also use this incredible software to add other visual elements to your image, so it is definitely a software we would recommend to learn.

Lightroom and photoshop symbols on a macbook

These are just some top tips when it comes to taking incredible travel photographs. Learning photography is not an easy task, and it takes time. Don’t give yourself a hard time if you feel like your photographs aren’t good enough, and you aren’t learning quick enough. When it comes to travel photography, there is always something to learn, and something new to try. It’s great to have role models and inspiration, but just remember that they started somewhere too and the likelihood is that they are still learning everyday! Embrace the journey, and enjoy the fun on your journey as a travel photographer. If you can think of any other travel photography tips, then please write them in the comments below!

If you are looking for amazing places to photograph, then why not join us on one of our tours? You can photograph the Taj Mahal on our India tour, wild elephants on our Sri Lanka tour or the heart of Tokyo if you plan to visit Japan with us. We will show you all the best places to photograph and so much more! The best part? You will make lifelong friends on our trips,and will be able to share these memories for years to come. 

Feeling inspired to save for your next adventure? Check out our other trips here and use the code ONELIFE15 at checkout to get an enormous 15% off all our trips, for a limited time only! (June 2021)

Written By: Abbie Bevan