5 Common Travel Photography Mistakes (and How to Avoid Them)

“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!

Improve Your Travel Photography

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.

 

Improve Your Travel Photography

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.

 Improve Your Travel Photography

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!

Improve Your Travel Photography

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!Improve Your Travel Photography

You Might Also Like

18 Comments

  • Reply
    Head Elsewhere
    August 18, 2015 at 1:26 am

    All of these are so on point! Especially number one, I had to send a DSLR camera back to Amazon once because it was (sadly) too advanced for me!

  • Reply
    Damon and Jo
    August 18, 2015 at 3:32 am

    Your. Photos. Are. Stunning. Honestly, we’ve had our Canon DSLR for a while now, but something’s just not clicking (oh the pun…lol). We’ve been using VSCOcam, but have never heard of Afterlight! Gotta check that one out. Anyway, what camera lens are you using for those fisheye shots?

  • Reply
    Alana
    August 18, 2015 at 4:19 am

    Don’t shoot in the middle of the day is a fantastic tip! Of course, sometimes we can’t help it but if we’re staying somewhere for a few days we set a aside a morning or evening just for photography. It really does make a big difference! Great and easy to implement tips, Nicola!

  • Reply
    Kaley
    August 18, 2015 at 3:53 pm

    Great tips!! Definitely love the shot about not taking the standard shots of the big attractions. Editing photos is also something that helps a lot with saving me time! “Oh this picture is great but it’s just a bit crooked….” Doesn’t matter, I can straighten it later easily!

  • Reply
    Ebony Hindle
    August 19, 2015 at 1:58 pm

    Love it Nicola! x

  • Reply
    Andele
    August 19, 2015 at 6:06 pm

    Absolutely love your photos! I really want to invest in a better camera, but can’t seem to decide on one:-/ Plus, every time I think of the investment, I think about spending it in another trip instead, haha! I guess my iPhone will just have to do for now;-) Love all of your tips, and especially like the lenses you used for the photos in this post:-) Happy Snapping!!

  • Reply
    ashleawheeler
    August 19, 2015 at 10:47 pm

    As the rest of the commenters here are saying, I love your photos. They’re amazing! Any chance you could let us in on which 4 lenses you carry around? I’m particularly interested in the one from that last shot of you in Times Square :)

    • Reply
      polkadotpassport
      August 20, 2015 at 1:52 am

      You are far too kind! Of course :) So I use a 17-40mm wideangle, 24-105mm General purpose, 50mm portrait and 15mm fisheye (the one that I shot Times Square with!)

  • Reply
    Claire
    August 21, 2015 at 11:56 pm

    Excellent tips! I definitely struggle with getting unique shots, but I also know it’s one of those things that just take tons of practice. Lovely post!
    -Claire
    tallgirlbigworld.com

  • Reply
    Sam
    September 2, 2015 at 8:52 am

    Great tips I love your Instagram page your photos are amazing ❤️ Can I ask a few questions as I’m keen to get into travel photography. Do you use Lightroom ? Do you edit the photos while you are travelling ? How do you put the location on the photo on Instagram if you have taken it with Camera? Thank you☺️ @samisitt

  • Reply
    Megan
    September 4, 2015 at 1:35 am

    Hi I loved your post! I’m heading to Rome in a couple months and on the hunt for a camera. I’m on a really low budget, any recommendations for little travel friendly cameras under £80?

  • Reply
    旅游摄影最容易犯的错误 | DailyPins
    December 22, 2015 at 10:05 am

    […] 旅游部落客Nicole热爱旅行和摄影,多年来累积了不少经验,最近她撰文分享旅游摄影常犯的错误,大家不妨参考。 […]

  • Reply
    WeiLe
    January 27, 2016 at 3:19 pm

    Your photos are really nice and creative when it comes to the point of shooting.

  • Reply
    elecha
    March 25, 2016 at 10:34 pm

    Lots of great tips! Although not taking photos in the middle of the day is hard, considering you want to spend the day doing something and want to capture those moments too!

  • Reply
    theislandlogic
    April 5, 2016 at 5:49 am

    Wonderful post!

    I have done few of them, but doing them taught me how to do it right next time and that’s where I hopefully corrected it and not hoping to repeat any of them.

  • Reply
    My favorite blog – eng209
    April 5, 2016 at 12:39 pm

    […] me in, it’s amazing that she takes such great pictures just with her iPhone. She even has a great corresponding article that gives tips on how to take pictures in the same way she does and she reveals the apps that she […]

  • Reply
    Lynn Belles
    September 10, 2016 at 7:09 am

    Terrific Post! I love taking photos – once my husband snapped at me saying “if you would stop taking so many pics we could see so much more” lol – he got over it and decided to join me!

  • Join in the conversation! Leave a comment below.