Most of us travel to make special memories and we usually have a camera in tow for that purpose. Yet there's nothing worse than witnessing a breathtaking scene, then trying to capture it in a photo and realising that your photography skills just aren't up to scratch. Maybe the image you take is too fuzzy or dark, or maybe you haven't angled it in the right way. Either way, it's a big disappointment when you head to one of the world's most visited tourist spots and you’re left with nothing to frame and put on the wall back home.
The good news is that you don't have to be a photography pro to capture amazing travel pics. Whether it's the beautiful natural scenery of New Zealand or the urban delights of London (which attracted almost 20 million visitors in 2017), here are our five tips for getting amazing travel photos.
Tip 1: Fall in love with manual settings
It's easy to get into the rut of using your camera's reliable old auto mode. But if you want to really put yourself in the driving seat and create striking images, then it is important to familiarise yourself with all those manual settings. This includes seemingly scary things like aperture, ISO and shutter speed, but thankfully, there are plenty of tips online that can help. The best approach is to experiment, experiment, and experiment again. Before heading off travelling, wander around your home playing around with the manual mode to see what effects you get. This way, when you are finally standing in that incredible destination abroad and want to take the best shot possible, you will be totally ready.
Tip 2: Get to destinations super early
Early morning is often the best time for getting spectacular photos, as the soft, warm, golden dawn light looks stunning in pics. So set your alarm to make sure you are up with the birds and make your way to that sightseeing attraction as early as possible. This approach also has the bonus benefit of letting you beat the crowds, ensuring even better landscape shots that are empty of people. And by the way, this 'golden hour' rule also works for sunset too.
Tip 3: Pack a tripod
We know what you're thinking: 'No way am I lugging a tripod around while backpacking'. But thankfully, there are various light and compact travel tripods that you can buy. Tripods are great for taking stable images without the dreaded shaky hand, but beyond this, they also put you in total control of a shot's various manual settings. This means that you can take your time to compose gorgeous photos without your hands getting tired. So maybe invest in a light tripod for your next trip.
Tip 4: Experiment with different angles
Every single photo doesn't have to be taken at eye level. Sometimes, squatting or even lying on the ground and photographing your subject from below can create really interesting 'worm's eye' shots. The same goes for shooting from the hip or standing on a stone to photograph a scene from slightly above it. Another great tip is to balance on one leg while taking a photo, as this can make images more dynamic. So don't be afraid to think outside of the box and get creative.
Tip 5: Take the lomo approach
When you think about good travel photography, we're guessing that you probably think of beautifully composed and lit shots? But there is another way to go about things, and that's by following the spontaneous 'rules' of Lomo photography (or Lomography). In essence, Lomo is a photography movement based around the 'don't think, just shoot' philosophy. It's about the joy of taking spontaneous photos without over-analysing whether they are good or bad. It's also about embracing imperfections like blurriness because sometimes, that can make shots more interesting. It's great for taking snapshots while wandering through the labyrinthine streets of a strange city, or in a busy market, or on a road trip. The best Lomo shots are often taken on cheap vintage cameras but of course, you can recreate those effects with modern-day filter apps like Hipstamatic. And the great thing is, this isn't an either-or approach — you can mix and match taking Lomo-style shots with more carefully created ones.
We hope that these five travel photography trips have been useful to you. Just remember to experiment, have fun and get to know your camera inside out. That way, long after your trip is over, you will still have a set of incredible photos memories to treasure.