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Vacation is a great time not only to recharge and relax but also to practice your travel photography skills. Whether you’re a pro with lots of gear, or a hobbyist with your first camera, there are plenty of photo opportunities in a new place. In fact, there can be so many that you can easily get overwhelmed or uninspired to shoot anything at all.
If you hit a wall and don’t know what to photograph while traveling, here are some ways to fire up your creativity.
An easy way to literally change your perspective of the world is to use a lens you don’t normally shoot with. Trade your zoom lens for a prime and notice the way you view and capture the world from a fixed focal length.
If you usually shoot close-ups, try your hand at shooting wide, or vice-versa. If cost is an issue, invest in affordable or third-party lens options, or simply rent a lens.
Similar to the point above, try your hand and shooting with a totally different camera. If you normally shoot with a DSLR, restrict yourself to shooting with a point and shoot or even your cell phone. Many small, compact cameras have improved greatly in image quality, and they might surprise you with their quailty.
By giving yourself a new technical challenge, you’ll open up room for creativity.
One of the best ways to shoot more is to have an objective or project in mind. Even if you’re not on official assignment, you can invent a similar scenario. Think of the ideal photography project that you’d want to do for a client, such as luxury vacation photos of Mexico, and aim to make that photo portfolio.
These are the type of personal project that you could easily use later in your portfolio if you ever seek out paid, professional work.
On the note of personal projects, here’s an easy one that you can do over the course of one trip or many. Pick out a theme or photography subject that interests you and capture versions of it in new places you travel.
As an example, you could photograph cultural foods unique to the region you’re in and put them in an album of “Ethnic Foods from Around the World.” Or focus on a topic such as unique doors of Italy, as I did on a recent trip.
Having a theme helps you focus and gives you something to look out for and photograph as you travel.
There are certain times of day when just about everything looks photogenic thanks to the positioning of the sun. While sunset and sunrise are obvious times of day, also consider Golden and Blue Hour, those times of the day just before/after sunrise and sunset.
On most days, this is when the lighting gets the most dramatic and optimal for shooting in natural lighting.
If you’re in a new part of the world and don’t know what to photograph, check out what others have shot before. Go online and check Instagram hashtags or do a Google image search for the town you’re in. Find the iconic shots that others have taken and visit those places yourself.
Not only does this put you on a fun discovery quest, but it also gives you a chance to put your own unique twist on famous places.
Thanks to social media and the availability of quality camera gear, there are talented photographers in just about every corner of the world. And odds are, there are easy ways to meet them in person. Try to attend Insta Meets or Meet-Ups for photographers in new places that you visit.
Or if you follow and admire a certain photographer’s work on social media, shoot them a message and see if they would like to meet and shoot in person. These are great ways connect to locals and get inspired to shoot in a new place.
If you’ve reached the end of this article and still feel overwhelmed, just pick up any camera you have and go out and shoot! Don’t worry about finding the perfect image; just snap away at whatever inspires you.
Or keep your camera in your bag and just enjoy the moment. Sometimes, a little break from photography is exactly what you need to inspire your creativity.
What tips do you have for getting past a creative slump? Please let us know in the comments below!