Travel photography lets you share your experiences with the world. One picture has the power to educate, inspire, and move people to action.
Whether you are capturing the quiet waters of the Mediterranean lapping at crystal beaches or the crowded streets of a Moroccan marketplace – some travel photography tips remain the same.
For this post, I’ve compiled top travel photography tips I learned from my travels to help you get started in this incredible niche.
The Best Places for Travel Photography
Choosing the ideal location for travel photography is the first step.
Here are a few common photography niches and where to travel for unique pictures:
- Street photography in Brazil: Rio de Janeiro is ideal for street photography because of its colorful culture and variety in population. If you visit between December and March, you will experience the best weather and the extravagant Carnival festival.
- Nighttime Photography in Iceland: In Iceland, city lights do not mask the stars. Then in September and October, the Northern Lights dance across the nighttime sky – making this stunning island ideal for nighttime photography.
- Wildlife photography in South Africa: South Africa has nearly 300 species of mammals alone to capture on camera. Take a safari through private reserves in May through September for a unique glimpse into the natural beauty of zebras, lions, elephants, rhinos, and so much more!
- Architecture photography in Italy: From historic coliseums to quaint villages tucked away in the Apennine mountains, there are options for every type of architect lover in Italy. If you want to avoid tourists photobombing your pictures, visit in fall and winter.
- Landscape photography in New Zealand: Every place you turn in New Zealand offers another spectacular landscape photography opportunity. Snow-capped mountains, 1000-meter waterfalls, and pristine beaches are just some of the country’s many wonders – which you can best capture during the summer months of December through March.
Travel Photography Tips for Beginners
For capturing unique travels on camera, I have learned to make the most of every moment using these 20 photography tips:
1. Keep Your Equipment Light and Simple
When you travel, keep all your equipment light and simple. Ask yourself what you will be comfortable carrying for hours at a time through airports, crowded streets, and rough roads.
Choose a light camera body with a comfortable camera strap. A travel tripod that easily folds up will be easier to fit in your camera bag. You don’t need to pack more than four lenses – including an ultra-wide lens for landscapes and a standard zoom lens for street photography.
In addition to your camera, also pack extra batteries, cleaning supplies, additional memory cards, and a hard drive.
2. Protect Your Equipment from Getting Stolen
Photography equipment is light, valuable, and usually easy to access – making it a prime target for thieves.
Thieves can’t steal what they don’t know you have. Skip the fancy bags and equipment and go for unassuming accessories. When you are not using your equipment, secure it in a hotel safe.
Save your serial numbers and receipts to easily file a stolen equipment claim with your insurance. You can also add your name and information to your camera’s EXIF data, helping you locate a stolen camera.
3. Get to Know Your Location’s Culture, History, People, and Landscapes
Every place you travel will have unique cultures, history, people, and landscapes. Before arriving at your destination, take time to get to know the people and places you will visit.
Information to find out beforehand is:
- What makes this place unique?
- Are there any photography rules?
- When is the best time to take pictures?
- Where are the most scenic locations?
4. Take Your Time Getting Unique Shots
Choose quality over quantity when taking pictures. When you arrive at a new location, don’t snap the first scenic shot you see. Everyone else is doing the same thing – and you won’t have anything new to capture.
Instead, break away from your tour group for an hour – or arrive early at your destination. That time away lets you explore unique shots.
5. Incorporate People into Your Shots
People like to relate to other people. Adding a simple figure in part of your shot lets viewers place themselves into the scene.
There are other benefits to adding people to shots as well. Seeing a face with emotion triggers an emotion in the viewer and helps to tell a story. People also add motion to any image – making it come alive.
If you are taking landscape and architecture pictures, a person will give a context for size. Think of the Grand Canyon’s beauty captured on camera. Now picture the same image but with a tiny person perched on top of a cliff. That person made the Grand Canyon feel much larger and more majestic.
6. Always Be Prepared to Capture a Moment
Most travel photography is reactive. You will be capturing moments on the go with little to no warning. You can make this process easier by always having your equipment ready.
Choose a camera bag that makes it easy to grab your camera – like bags with front or side pockets. Also, keep your equipment clean and ready to use. Before you even leave for your trip, familiarize yourself with your gear. You don’t want to miss your shot because you’re fidgeting with unfamiliar equipment.
7. Backup and Process Your Pictures Regularly
One of the worst feelings for a photographer is seeing an empty memory card. All that hard work – just gone!
When you travel, your camera is at risk from water damage, bumps, and thieves. You should back up your pictures at least daily. Having a portable hard drive in your bag allows you to back up your camera more often.
At the end of each day, process the pictures from the day. Seeing your images can inspire you for the next day. You will see what worked and what didn’t. You will also lessen your workload when you get home.
8. Research the Best Photography Practices
You can turn a regular tourist picture into a postcard-perfect image by knowing the best photography practices.
Take a photography course before heading off on your trip. You can learn about the rule of thirds, leading lines, framing, and types of composition. These techniques will make your pictures stand out and capture your audience.
9. Get to Know the Local People
You can’t find all your information on the internet. Take time out of your day to get to know the locals. They will tell you about places off the beaten path or local traditions you might not know about.
They may even offer themselves as your guide.
10. Create a Travel Plan to Include Specific Pictures
When you create your travel plan, include details for taking pictures.
The hotel that is best for tourists might not be the best hotel for photographers. One road may take tourists to a location faster – but another may be more scenic for pictures.
Enjoy Your Trip
Don’t get so focused on getting the best shot that you forget to enjoy the journey. Travel photography captures moments. The best way to find a picture-perfect moment is to experience them yourself.