“We take photos as a return ticket to a moment otherwise gone.”
Out of all the things I bring home from my travels, my photographs will ALWAYS be what I treasure the most. For me, no Eiffel Tower keyring or flea market anklet compares to the millions of pixels that come together to form that one precious travel memory. Capturing and physically (or digitally) preserving a moment in time isn’t something we should take for granted. Sure, we have it easy these days. We can go snap happy without the anticipation of waiting for photos to be developed or fears of our film being ruined. Yet despite the accessibility and ease of digital photography, one thing has not changed. No matter rapidly technology advances, we still will never have the ability to go back and capture that exact same moment in our lives again (unless time travel comes to play- a girl can dream). This makes it imperative to get those travel photos right the first time! No one wants to look back on blurry, over-exposed photos of beautiful places with a pang of regret.
Want to take better photos when you are travelling? To master the art of travel photography, avoid these five common mistakes of travel photography and you’ll have a collection of picture-perfect memories in no time!
1. Don’t go out and buy a big camera for the sake of it-
This can be the biggest mistake of anyone who wants to take their travel photography to the next level. Don’t get me wrong- DSLR’s will produce incredible results. But before investing your life savings in a hefty camera, take a moment to consider what type of camera will actually benefit you the most during your travels. I travel with an SLR and four lenses, which works for me, but it really is a massive hassle to carry this around. If you aren’t going to lug around a big heavy camera everywhere you go, don’t bring it. When you are traveling, you never know when you’ll be presented with an incredible photo opportunity. This means you should ALWAYS have your camera on you. Every time I’ve missed an incredible shot has been because I’ve been lazy and left my camera at home, I really kick myself. If you want better travel photos, sometimes camera phones just don’t hit the mark. There are so many great hybrid cameras on the market these days that will produce similar (arguably better) photos than your traditional Canon/ Nikon DSLR, but are lighter and more compact- easier to slip in the day pack! Check out the Sony NEX range or Olympus OMD for great camera alternatives.
2. Don’t just take the shot everyone else has got-
If you want a cliche shot of the Eiffel Tower, save your time and search for it on Pinterest. Okay, maybe take one, then move on and get more creative with your travel photos! There are two ways to improve your photos and avoid getting the same shot as every tourist. Firstly, don’t flock to the popular vantage points. Not only have these places been shot to death, they are also likely to be super crowded and you’ll be pushing your way to get a good photo. Seek out the slightly less known viewpoints for unique photos without the tourists photo bombing every picture! Secondly, find at least one point of interest or difference in every shot you take. Whether this is having something in the foreground, waiting for that moment when a bird flies over the horizon, or jumping in the shot myself, I try to always find something to make my photo unique. If you do this, you’ll end up drastically improving your photo and will most likely treasure your images a lot more as they will be more personal.
3. Don’t shoot during the middle of the day-
The time of day you take photos makes ALL the difference. If you go out and take photo during the middle of the day, you’ll end up with very high contrast photos with harsh shadows. This is particularly not ideal if you are taking people shots or wanting to get in the photos yourself as this light is not flattering. Instead, if you want to improve your travel photos, head out at sunset (or sunrise if early mornings are your thing) and you’ll see the whole world in a new light – literally. Commonly referred to as the golden hour, every place will become a million times more magical as the sun sits low in the sky and illuminates the world with its golden glow. Your photos will look a million times better- I promise! As there is a lot less light at these times of the day, you might want to consider getting a small, flexible tripod like the Joby Gorillapod. If you use a tripod and a long shutter-speed on your camera, you will be able to get properly-exposed, sharp images even in very low light conditions.
4. Don’t underestimate the power of editing-
Photo editing is a very powerful tool that we ALL have access to these days. You don’t have to spend hundreds on fancy programs like photoshop or Lightroom (although if you want to get serious it would be very beneficial to invest in this software), even the photo editing apps you can get on phones these days are actually really impressive. If you want your travel photos to stand out, take note! My favourite photo editing app would have to be Snapseed- it’s a free app that will work wonders to make your images pop. Try the ambience tool to bring out the colours in your photos and the structure tool to bring out the clarity/ textures and make your photos look super sharp. My other two most regularly used apps are Afterlight and VSCOcam. Both have a great range of really nice filters you can apply to your photos. I would always recommend tweaking a filters settings and opacity when applying them to your photos- not every filter works on every photo and sometime you just need to tone them down a little to make them work. Download any of these apps and say hello to better travel photos in an instant!
5. Don’t stop snapping-
Taking great photos, like anything, requires practice. The best thing you can do is just keep snapping! If you aren’t happy with the way your photos are turning out, try researching some basic techniques for manually using your camera. Keep practicing, and you’ll find taking a good photo comes more naturally in time. You’ll be on track to improving your travel photography and taking better photos in no time!