My Top Travel Photography Tips

Ever since I was given a Nikon D70 camera as a present from my Dad, I have been really interested in photography. I’m always lusting after new pieces of kit and I’ve currently got my eye on a nice little upgrade. Being a travel blogger, photos are very important- a blog post without images would be pretty lifeless! Back in school I loved art, and although I’m not exactly Saatchi material, I’m definitely a creative type. I’ve published a few photo essays on the blog, like this one in Norway and this one in Myanmar, and I’m currently selling some of my photos as stock photography for some extra cash.

So today I’m going to share with you some of the travel photography tips I’ve picked up along the way, from choosing a camera, to capturing the best sides of a destination.

Travel Photography Tips & Tricks

Choosing a Camera

The first thing to think about is what camera you’re going to take with you. With so many options on the market, that’s easier said than done. It all depends on how much gear you are prepared to carry around, how professional you want your photos to look and what you’re going to use them for.

Compact Camera

The compact camera is the lightest and most portable option, but with many smart phones offering such great in-built cameras, I find it quite hard to justify the need for a compact camera. In short, you’re better off getting a good smart phone.

DSLR

Whether you’re an an amateur, an enthusiast or a pro, there are a range of DSLR cameras available to suit all budgets, like the Nikon D7100 DX-format DSLR cameras. They take impressive photos and you can switch lenses according to what you are shooting. Many of them come with video capabilities and even flip out LCD screens so you can film video footage too. The major downside is they are bulky and heavy, especially if you’re carrying extra lenses. There are other options like the 360 camera that let you take wider angles and panoramic pictures of the places you visit.

Mirrorless Camera

Mirrorless Cameras basically bridge the gap between compact cameras and DSLRs. Like DSLRs they have interchangeable lenses, but the mirrorless system means they can be designed in a smaller size. The mirrorless camera is a great option for travel, offering excellent photo and video capabilities, without adding unnecessary bulk.  

Supercharge your iPhone

I carry my iPhone 5 everywhere with me, and for a smartphone, I love the quality of the photos it takes. I use this to take all my photos for social media websites such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter and I’ve downloaded a ton of apps to make my pictures ‘pop’. Bing small and light, it’s also my ‘backup’ camera for nights out when I don’t want to carry around a bulky camera.

While it’s no DSLR, there are numerous ways you can supercharge your iPhone so that it takes incredible photos.

  • Firstly, buy an external battery because the battery life on smartphones isn’t great. I use the Anker 5600mAh Portable External Battery Charger. I don’t have to worry about my iPhone dying on me- I can simply plug it into this little device using my iPhone cable. I also carry a CHARGEKEY from Nomad Goods on my keychain, which is basically the world’s dinkiest iPhone cable.
  • Download some photography apps so you can edit your photos before putting them online. I use Camera +, Big Lens, Snapseed and Pro HDR. These apps come with a range of filters and tuning options to make your photos look stunning for Instagram.
  • Consider an Olloclip- a quick-connect lens solution for iPhone that includes macro, telephoto, wide angle and fish eye lenses.
  • It might look super touristy, but I like to take pictures of food. Where possible I try to take photographs at lunchtime in daylight, but sometimes I’ll be in a dark restaurant and need some extra light. I used to get someone else to shine their phone’s flashlight on my food, but now I carry around a Manfrotto Pocket-12 LED Light. You can also purchase and LED lenser torch to shine a little extra light on your food.
  • Finally, if you want to push the boat out and turn your iPhone into a mini DSLR, you can buy the Sony Cyber-shot QX10 wireless camera lens for iPhone.

Obviously there’s only so much your iPhone can do, so here are some of my top travel photography tips for shooting with a DSLR.

Travel Photography Tips

  • Take spare batteries and chargers, plus a worldwide travel adapter. You don’t want to lose battery at the top of a mountain just as you’re about to capture that epic travel photo!
  • Take photos in the early morning or late afternoon. Beat the crowds and get up early so you can some beautiful shots without lots of tourists ruining the photo. The lighting in the early morning or late afternoon just before sunset- also known as ‘magic hour’- is perfect for travel photography.
  • It’s all in the details. Instead of taking hundreds of shots of famous landmarks and panoramas, try to notice the details of a place and what makes it unique. It might be textures, colours or patterns; it might be people or activities. Pay attention to sights, sounds and smells, then try to capture those senses in your photographs.
  • Be selective with what you photograph. It’s tempting to take lots of pictures of the same thing, but aim for one or two really good shots, instead of hundreds that look the same. I used to take scattergun pictures of everything I saw, but now I save my camera for the best shots.
  • Shoot people. Portraits are stunning and the eyes tell much more of a story about a place than a landscape ever could. A lot of travellers think it’s necessary to stand around waiting for people to get out of your shot, but sometimes, having a person in the photo can really bring that generic shot to life.
  • Visit hotels and restaurants with great views. I usually try to do some research and visit the rooftop bar of a hotel, or a restaurant with a terrace to capture the best views.
  • Shoot in RAW I have my camera set to take photos in both JPG and RAW. It’s important to have the RAW file, which is basically the master copy of your photo with all the data. When it comes round to editing, you can literally go back and process it in a different way.
  • Carry your camera in your carry on bag, not your checked baggage. If your checked bag goes missing, so does your camera. Keep it with you at all times.
  • Travel with insurance– You should always be vigilant when travelling with expensive camera equipment. When shooting videos or taking photos, I twist the camera strap round my arm so that it’s much more difficult for someone to steal. Be careful of pickpockets when your’e out and store your camera in a safe at your hotel/hostel/apartment. Purchase travel insurance and perhaps even gadget insurance for very expensive electronics. Think it won’t happen to you? I had my Nikon D80 stolen in MONACO of all places! It was covered on my home contents insurance, so luckily I was able to get a replacement.

Do you have any great travel photography tips to share? Leave a comment below!

7 thoughts on “My Top Travel Photography Tips”

  1. Great tips Victoria! I’m currently considering what gear to take with me on my travels when I set off for Southeast Asia in 6 weeks. I think I will take my DSLR but after reading this I might upgrade to an iphone 5 too so that I have options. Thanks for the app suggestions too 🙂

  2. iPhone is really useful for social media, but always worth a DSLR. I’m personally going to switch to a mirrorless camera from my Nikon DSLR. Got my eye on the Sony Nex 5T or the Panasonic GH4- both are more portable and do everything I need.

  3. My tip: shoot a scene at different angles and heights … you’ll get shots that will likely be better than ones taken in the default manner (flat angle at chest height)

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