TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY TIPS – HOW I LEARNT FROM SCRATCH
Before I start this post, I want to very very VERY quickly clarify that I’m not a professional photographer. I actually think I’m very far of it…
Although I often get questions about my photography; what I did to teach myself, what I do to edit and the kind of equipment I carry around on my trips. So… I thought I’d share my knowledge with you!
But please, take my advice with a grain of salt. The tips I’m giving are just what works for me – I’m certainly no expert, but I love learning from people that are self-taught and very honest about their skills.
All I hope is that this will inspire you to follow your passion and realize that by absorbing a lot of information, trying your best and learning from your mistakes, you can sure as hell succeed!
Invest in a decent DSLR
Out of all the travel photography tips, this is by far the most valuable one! Although a high-quality camera isn’t the most important part of capturing a moment… It’s obviously pretty vital!
Using your iPhone will allow you to capture beautiful scenes, there’s absolutely no doubt about it… But in order to get a sharp, crisp and unique image, a DSLR is the only way to do so!
If you’re just starting out, there’s really no need to invest your life savings on the biggest and best camera on the market, you can 110% create a beautiful image with a body that costs only a few hundred dollars. I started out with a Nikon D3200; it was relatively cheap, small and compact and I took some of my favourite photos using it!
If you can afford it, getting a decent DSLR is the very first step to improve your travel photography.
Tip > You don’t need 1000 different lenses, just a couple of versatile options that can do everything you’re looking for!
Bring your camera everywhere
You seriously never know when the opportunity for a beautiful photo will arise – Never leave your camera behind!!!
Take a lot of shots!
Click until your heart is content!
I honestly couldn’t tell you how many times I left a location feeling unsatisfied with the 5 shots that I took… If there’s one tip that you must take from this post, it’s to take a LOT of shots. Don’t delete any until you can have a good look on your computer and see what angles are the best!
Tip > Carry back up memory cards everywhere you go! You don’t want to run out of space halfway through your journey and not be able to capture the rest of your day!
Try different angles and focal lengths
Get experimenting; get low to the ground, change your perspective, focus on the foreground, zoom in, zoom out, get up high, put something close to your lens… The list is seriously endless. Don’t stop until you feel like you’ve captured an angle that nobody else has!
Picture the image before you take it
Before you start aimlessly shooting something, try to stop and picture the image before you take it – especially if it has you or someone else in it.
Picture how you want the final outcome to look, how you want your body to look and what you want the message to be. This doesn’t mean that you have to spend 10 minutes thinking about every photo, just a few seconds to quickly put together what you want to achieve!
Tip > Also remember to be spontaneous too. A beautiful moment could be gone before you even had time to blink, so pick up your camera and get shooting!
Learn the tricks before you go
If you want to capture something particular, or you know you’re going to see something that’s hard to capture, make sure you learn the right tricks before you go.
For example: Before I went to Iceland, I had my fingers tightly crossed that I was going to see the Aurora. I researched about what camera settings to use to photograph the Northern Lights, what equipment I needed and the best way to use the DSLR I already had.
I wrote all the notes down on my phone, with step by step guides on what to do in case I had a mental blank.
It was the best decision I ever made because as I’m sure you can see in the image below, I was able to capture the magic that my iPhone never could.
Jot down notes
Like I just said, take down as many notes as you possibly can!
When someone gives you a tip… Jot it down! When you see a person doing something unique with their equipment… Jot it down!
There is always room for improvement so always be open to learning – taking notes is the perfect way to ensure you never forget the most valuable pieces of advice. Sometimes travel can be a little hectic, so this guarantees that you always have a point of reference if need be!
Tip > Make your notes short and sweet, but easy to understand! When you really can’t remember how to change your camera settings, you want something that you’ll understand when you’re in a desperate rush – Make dot points and save it all on your phone. Add photo examples too, they can be a great help!
Try to tell a story
In every image, try to picture how the person viewing it will feel. If you’re going to share it on social media, try to imagine how strangers will visualize the real moment. If you’re simply photographing for your own personal use, try to take a picture that will make you remember the moment as if you were re-living it.
Basically, take something with a little more meaning!
Don’t forget the finer details
When you’re standing in a beautiful location, don’t just take a shot of the overall landscape… Look at the small details, the vegetation, the mountains and the small details that lie around you.
Beautiful images often come from things that you wouldn’t normally think of photographing. There’s beauty absolutely everywhere – don’t ever forget that!
Tip > Look closely, zoom in – get up close and personal with what’s around you!
Remember that the edit brings the image to life
I wish I had known about the power of editing much much sooner. Images really do come to life once you transform and enhance the colours and tones, and there are so many ways that you can completely change how an overall image appears.
A dull, boring photo can dramatically change with the click of a few buttons!
I personally use Adobe Lightroom to edit my photos with my own custom presets, but there are a lot of free software and iPhone apps that can do a good job too. Find what works for you and stick with it!
Find your own personal style
I think one of the most valuable pieces of advice I’ve ever received in regards to photography, is to simply find your own style.
Whether that be wide-angle landscape shots, wildlife photography (my personal fave) or portrait shots… Forget about what everyone else is doing and focus on what you love!
Ask your travelling partner to take photos of you!
If you want to get shots with you in them, ask the person you’re travelling with to take the photo for you!
If you have a specific shot in mind, make sure you give them directions of what you want, set up the camera to the right settings and just ask them to press the shutter.
If you travel solo you could do the same by asking a stranger, or you can bring your own tripod and use a self-timer!
Try your best!
Nobody is perfect! Don’t ever expect to be a professional National Geographic photographer in a day… It’s taken me years and years to feel like I know what I’m doing with a camera, and I’m still very very very far from perfect.
Trying your best is the most important thing, and as long as you’re happy with what you create, that’s really all that matters!
Remember that all photos are beautiful – they don’t have to be perfect
Social media has become a place filled with so much beautiful travel photography that it can sometimes be a little discouraging when comparing them to your own… Always remember that photos are there to pause a moment in time.
Although they may not always be perfectly executed, remember their real purpose. Out of all of my travel photography tips, I think this one is my most important.
All photos are beautiful… Don’t ever compare them to someone else’s memory!
To end, I’m going to share the list of the camera equipment I carry with me on every trip. I do hope this gives you a little inspiration!
My camera gear:
- Nikon D7200 Body
- Nikon 18 – 140 mm f 3.5 – 5.6 lens (Super versatile and perfect for most shots)
- Sigma DG 70 – 300 mm f 4 – 5.6 lens (Zoom lens, perfect for wildlife photography)
- Nikon 35mm f 1.8 (Great for portraits and night-time photography)
- Joby Gorilla Tripod
- Nikon Wireless Remote
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