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5 Simple Tips to Improve Your Travel Photos

There is no doubt that travel photography is an incredibly rewarding profession because you have an opportunity to tell stories through your own pictures. But it is also one of the most challenging genres to master. Besides having to be able to photograph everything from people and architecture, to food and landscapes, you are also often at the mercy of the elements. Getting a great travel photo isn’t easy and it often doesn’t come about by luck. You have to be willing to work hard to capture the shot that you want. Here are 5 simple tips to help you improve your travel photos:

Kav Dadfar_Turkey

1. Do your research

Fortunately, we live in a time when researching locations is easier than ever, so don’t just rely on turning up somewhere and hope to capture a great shot – do your research before you leave. Put together a shot list (things you want to photograph) and work out what the best time of day is to photograph it. Go onto Google maps and work out the best location to photograph from, work out sunrise and sunset times, and have a look at photos in image libraries that already exist to get a sense of what is already out there. If you have time, go and scout the location first hand. The more you know about the place the more chance you have of capturing a great photo.

2. Don’t settle for your first photo

I rarely find that the first photo I take of a place is the one that turns out to be the best. So instead of snapping a few quick photos and moving on, take your time and have a good look around. Sit down and just observe the view and try to take it in. Think about what story you are hoping to tell with the photo. And don’t forget to move around and look at things from different angles.

The photo on the left was my first shot. On the right was after around 20 mins several shots later.

The photo on the left was my first shot. On the right was after around 20 mins and several shots later.

The shot on the left is nice but too generic. The shot on the right taken after waiting for a while tells a much better story.

The shot on the left is nice but too generic. The shot on the right taken after waiting for a while tells a much better story.

3. Think about light

Light is one of the most important elements of a photo and can really help set the mood and tell a story. If you do your research you’ll have a good idea of the best time to photograph at that location. But when you are there, think about what the light is doing. Is it harsh or a soft light? Which direction is it coming from? How does it help light up or affect your subject? All of these can influence what your final photo will look like. And if you find that the light isn’t right, be prepared to come back (if possible).

The light coming from the side helps to beautifully light the landscape.

The light coming from the side helps to light the landscape beautifuly.

4. Try the unusual

You’ve probably heard the saying “thinking outside the box”. Well; it’s never been truer than in this day and age. Just searching for the “Eiffel Tower” on Getty Images returned over 17,500 photos! The challenge for us photographers is to try and find new and creative ways of showing the same locations. So when you are at that famous landmark or beautiful landscape, think about what would make it unique? Would it be including people in the image? Or just an unusual angle? Maybe a different time of the day? Of course this is again where your research can help as you would know what already exists.

Slightly different shot than the traditional shot of the interior of the church

Slightly different shot than the traditional shot of the interior of the church

The photo still says car but isn't the normal exterior shot.

The photo still says car but isn’t the normal exterior shot.

5. Find your style

One of the things I did when I was starting out was to cut out photos which I thought were great from magazines and newspapers. After a while, when I had a big pile, I placed them all out on a table, along with some of my own favourite photos I had taken and immediately saw a similar style and feel to them all. The great thing about photography is that there isn’t a right or wrong style, but just what feels right with you. So try to find your own style as this will help your photos stand out from others.

Even the most seasoned professionals are continuously developing and improving their skills, but using these 5 simple tips will help you on your way.

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Kav Dadfar
Kav Dadfar

is a professional travel photographer, writer and photo tour leader based in the UK. His images are represented by stock agencies such as 4Corners Images and Robert Harding World Imagery and they have been used by clients such as Condé Nast, National Geographic, Lonely Planet, and many others. Kav is also the co-founder of That Wild Idea, a company specializing in photography workshops and tours both in the UK and around the world. Find out more at That Wild Idea.