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How to Get the Most Out of a Travel Photography Location

The one thing that I always wish for on any trip is more time, but I also think that no matter how long I have somewhere I will always wish I had an extra day, week or month.

Making The Most Of A Location

As a photographer, you will rarely have the luxury of time, whether you are on an assignment or a personal trip. The reality is that there are so many things to photograph, in so many different way,s that you could spend a lifetime just photographing one city and get vastly different results every day. So making the most of your limited time is absolutely essential in maximizing the output of a trip.

On any given day you will only have enough time for a certain number of locations, so it is imperative to make the most of a scene and get enough saleable shots which are different enough from one another. This is even more important if you wish to make money from stock images with travel photography.

Research and planning can help immensely in ensuring that your time on location is well spent. But equally you will need to learn to think creatively on location to maximize the potential shots that are on offer. I try to get between four to six shots at any location which are different enough to send to my image libraries for editing (that doesn’t just mean vertical and horizontal orientation).

Here are a few tips to help you maximize a scene to get a variety of shots:

Look for different angles

It might seem obvious but if you move around to different points around your subject it could give you a completely different view of the same subject. That could mean you photograph from higher up or even lower down if possible.

Four different ways of portraying the Blue Mosque in Istanbul.

Four different ways of showing the Blue Mosque in Istanbul

Incorporate other elements 

The flag in the foreground gives a completely different shot of the Blue Mosque.

The flag in the foreground gives a completely different shot of the Blue Mosque.

This will require a little bit of creative thinking but it could give you completely different photographs to what you already have. Look out for people or objects, such as flags, that you could incorporate into the foreground.

Try a different time of the day

It’s incredible how different places look and feel at different times of the day. Go early morning for soft light and less crowds, and you get a tranquil feel. Or how about mid-afternoon with the crowds to show the chaos of a place. Catch the golden light late in the afternoon for a wonderfully warm photo.

Change the composition

You can do this in post production, but I’m a firm believer in getting the shot right as you take it, so experiment with the image framing. Put your subject on the left or right, or tilt your camera to add some diagonal lines to draw the viewer in. The way you frame your composition can give a completely different look and feel to your image.

This was one of the shots I took. I also walked around and took a close-up of the face.

This was one of the shots I took here. I also walked around and took a close-up of the face.

Don’t forget about the details

It’s easy to forget to photograph the small details when you are in awe of that beautiful landscape or the famous landmark, but the details are what can really give your images variety. Whether it’s the detailed carvings, the ornate tiles, or the beautiful artwork, these details are what you may miss sometimes when you visit those famous landmarks. These sorts of images are also ones that Picture Editors find essential when laying out a magazine spread as they can be reduced in size to fit any space while still looking great. Some of my best selling shots are of these details!

Close-up shots of the details are a great way of adding additional shots from a location.

Close-up shots of the details are a great way of adding additional shots from a location to your collection.

Look beyond the main point of interest

This might sound strange, after all, if you are photographing that famous landmark or a beautiful landscape, why would you want to miss it completely? You should still take the pictures of the landmark or the landscape, but after you have got multiple shots of your main subject in the scene, start having a look around for other things that you can capture. It might be a beautiful autumn colour leaf on the ground or a street performer near the landmark. The aim is to try and maximize your output at every opportunity.

This stand selling post cards was in St Marks square in Venice. This image has out-sold all of the images I took of the landmarks!

This stand selling post cards was in St Marks square in Venice. This image has out-sold the famous landmarks photos that I took!

Remember that just a few additional shots at every location can add up over a trip and give you an extra load of saleable photos. But even the last shot should be good enough, and have enough thought put into it as the first one.

Can you think of anything else? What do you do to make sure you make the most of a scene? Share your tips and photos below.

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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.