7 Travel Photography Tips

7 Travel Photography Tips


Travel Photography is a lot of fun but presents some real challenges. Today Christina Nichole shares 7 tips to help you on your next trip.

I once heard travel photography described as one of the most important mediums of photographic communication. As the photographer, you are literally creating an entire culture for an audience of people who may never be able to visit that place. Of course, this privilege carries a heavy responsibility. You must be able to present a culture in a way that informs, educates, and entertains.

So, what do you look for? Here are seven tips that will guide you in your photographic travels…

1. Look for “the big picture”. Give your audience a bird’s eye view of the location you have traveled to … full of color and vibrancy. Here, I have taken this shot on one of the highest peaks of Quito, Ecuador to overlook the city.


2. Capture things that are “out of the ordinary”. What is distinctly different from your culture? These are things that your audience will find interesting.


3. Find shapes. Other cultures use shapes, curves, and lines in architecture very differently. Be constantly on the alert for buildings, fences, and paths that are unique to your culture.


4. Seek the light. Make any image stunning with some dynamic lighting. Inside cathedrals and churches facilitate beautiful lighting with stained glass windows and skylights. Wait until mid morning or afternoon to capture high sidelight that will pour through the windows and hit the floor.


5. Look for contrast. Whether contrast in light tones verses dark tones, or contrast as in textures and locations, this will keep your images varied.


6. Third world countries especially have extreme diversity of textures, colors, patterns, and content. As a photographer, you have to unify all the different elements to an image that will “make sense” visually.


7. Photograph that which captures your soul. A poor child? A destitute village? A tropical landscape? A busy city center? Take pictures of things that matter to you, and you will come away with visually gripping images no matter where your travels may take you.


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Christina N Dickson is a visionary artist and philanthropist in Portland Oregon. Her work includes wedding photography www.BrideInspired.com and leadership with www.RevMediaBlog.com.

Some Older Comments

  • Caden Alexander May 20, 2010 01:46 pm

    What is the best website on the internet that provide travel tips to Thailand ?*;;

  • sam November 21, 2009 02:53 pm

    Thanks... great tips and great help for a beginner like me who likes to travel a lot ...

  • jsmith November 14, 2009 06:35 pm

    Excellent article with great photographs..!!
    I saw some good tips of safety travel in a website that provides complete assistance by giving destination information, safety and cultural travel tips and make ease of travel around the world.

  • Sweety November 12, 2009 08:12 pm

    These travel photographs look both realistic and artistic.. I love taking photographs of various scenarios in course of my travel.. But traveling to a unfamiliar country is becoming a challenge at present due to the increasing robbery. Could any one suggest some good tips of safety travel?

  • Redtomatopie July 31, 2009 05:55 am

    Thank you for the great suggestions. One small quibble. Although it is common (especially in the U.S.) to refer to other countries as 'third world', it is actually considered poor form, if not downright offensive. I learned this the hard way while at an academic conference in Bulgaria. Consider using the terms 'developed', 'developing', or 'lest developed' instead.

  • Katharine Lancy June 5, 2009 06:48 am

    Would have liked seeing the settings for some of those photographs.

  • Gary December 25, 2008 03:01 am

    Great post, and I have a tip to add also.

    Talk to the Locals!
    The people that live there know where all the hidden, beautiful spots are... If you are out with your camera, there will always be interested people around, so stop and speak with them, and ask if they have a special spot.

  • Esteban/Stephen December 23, 2008 09:05 am

    Great article! I like the shot of Quito and I like the suggestion from Fletch. If you put them together you get this:

    I want to go back again, Ecuador is such a great place for photography.

  • Pradis December 14, 2008 09:41 am

    be nice & smile :)

  • Weddings on the Strand December 12, 2008 04:54 pm

    The first shot in this series captured my attention. Your comments are informative but the photos themselves stand alone and are most revealing. Thanks so much for this post.

  • Louise December 12, 2008 02:13 pm

    Don't forget a good circular polarising filter for ensuring great landscapes. And spare batteries. A gorillapod type small tripod, if you have room, will allow further opportunites too, such as HDR or taking advantage of neutral density filters.

  • Michael Ziegler December 12, 2008 06:28 am

    Take pictures of signs that contain the name of each point of interest which you plan to shoot. You will then know where you have been.

  • Kent West December 12, 2008 04:12 am

    Thanks for the great tips. Also, thank you Alexandru, very practical advice. If I might suggest something that has helped me as well. As soon as you come home from a trip (after unpacking and taking your shoes off of course) start tagging and labeling your photos. I have found if I don't do it soon my photos end up without a title in my library of 15,000 images. You will thank yourself later. Thanks for all the great comments!

  • Francisco Galárraga December 10, 2008 01:06 pm

    Awesome shots of my country! Are you around the city? Greetings from Quito...

  • Igor December 9, 2008 06:12 pm

    Practical issue.
    In some countries or cities it's better to be unnoticeable, i.e. to keep camera more in bag and to take it out only to take a snap. Even at daytime...
    Some policemen ask for this to prevent tourists against thiefs.
    So be vigilant.

  • Bunny December 9, 2008 03:11 pm

    Thanks, as a beginning photographer I appreciate all the help I can get.

  • zulfadhli December 9, 2008 02:19 pm

    the best thing about travel photography is, you'll be testing all your photography skills such as landscape photography, street photography, portrait, cityscape, nature and much more and you have to shoot all of this in a shot period of time. I am sure you'll be a much much better photographer by the time you reach home

  • Fletch December 9, 2008 11:35 am

    Surely the number one tip for travel photography is to make sure you take a picture out of the plane window!

    Like this. http://www.flickr.com/photos/jamesfletcher/3085981797/

  • Megapixelicious December 9, 2008 08:28 am

    Picture 4 has a serious straight horizon issue...

    I think the best pictures I took when I was in Vietnam was VERY early in the morning. Looking at people preparing their stands or getting ready to work in the fields is so out of our ordinary.

  • Alexandru December 9, 2008 08:02 am

    Great tips!

    If I can add some other tips (more practical than artistic), aimed for travelling with friends:

    * Take pictures of the friends who travel with you, but in such a way that they don't realize it or at least they don't pose. You will have a laugh with them later if they did something funny (haggling with locals, trying new hats, chasing pigeons, having siesta on the beach, dancing salsa, snow fighting). Usually people remember things that they did instead of things that they saw, and doing cool stuff with your friends (and having some pictures about it) will leave more nice long-lasting memories than taking amazingly great HDR wide-angle pictures of landscapes, cathedrals etc.

    * Swap cameras with a friend and take pictures of each other. This way you will be in some pictures, without having to resort to the old self-pose-in-front-of-the-big-ben technique. Alternatively use the pictures from your friends if they allow it. In this case make sure all cameras are synchronized to the same date and time. It will be easier to sort pictures by date later. Also be patient with people taking pictures of you - don't stick your tongue out, don't move around or blink when the shutter is released, and never refuse being in a photo.

    * Take some group pictures with all your travel companions in front of some famous landmark. Good for facebook and for printing to give to everybody as a travel memory, or even for sending home as a postcard. Also think of taking a good picture with some of your friends in it which can be used as the album cover (a picture which represents the travel the most).

    * Take pictures wherever you go, then select a few from each location. This way you will have something like a "film" of the trip if you play the pictures in a slideshow with some local music, or print them all on a big paper (A4 or A3) to hang on the wall.

    * Take some short videos (clips), and you can later create music videos by arranging a few clips on a soundtrack. Use your friends as actors in the videos.

    * Have the camera all the time with you (in hand or in the pocket, not in the bag), and make sure you have enough card space and enough battery, extra card and extra batteries, and maybe a small tripod. This means point-and-shoot cameras are easier to use while travelling with friends.

    * Make sure you take the pictures with the right settings. If you want many fast pictures it is better to leave the camera on automatic mode (but try to limit the use of the flash). Don't take pictures at maximum resolution if you know that your camera is not good for that (some P&S cameras are better at 3 or 5 megapixels instead of maximum). Also don't take pictures at minimum resolution just to save card space, you will be sorry later (and cards are super-cheap now).

    * Remember all the place names where you have been (don't throw away the free maps you get at the tourist information offices). You can later tag your pictures correctly, and even put them on the map on flickr. And it is also useful if you blog about your trip and don't want to offend any locals by misspelling the name of their town/village/river etc.

    * Take pictures at night as well (city lights, street traffic, Aurora Borealis if you are lucky, your friends dancing in the disco lights).

    * Have fun!

  • Fabi December 9, 2008 01:33 am

    Great tips! One tiny extra tip, don't forget to put the camera down at times and enjoy your vacation!

  • Kenneth Dreyer December 9, 2008 01:32 am

    I would love to hear a bit more about what lenses and filters to use for travel photography. Any upcoming articles on that topic? :)

  • Saralonde December 9, 2008 01:17 am

    Great tips. Can I add one more? I like to get up close and photograph details when I travel. They can be architectural, cultural, native foods, etc. It can work well if you are in a touristy area and want to cut out some of the commercialism.