We all want our travel photos to be great but how can we make that happen? Well, look no further because I’m sharing my great travel photo secrets right here.
Photos are one of the biggest aspects of travelling, particularly now that social media has become a huge part of our lives and of course, we all want the best travel photos and we often think that all it takes is a smile and a famous landmark.
Although these elements can produce some nice snaps, certainly good enough to bring back memories whenever you flick through them, I think the greatest travel photos happen when you stop looking happy for the camera and start getting the camera to capture you when you are happy just being wherever you are.
But let’s remember that we are trying to capture images that will stir your emotions when you look back at them, not just reminding you of the place, but what it was like to be there. These are personal photos we are talking about, not pro-level sponsored content.
Tip #1 – Take more than one photo
It’s the digital age people, so it no longer costs more to take 2, 3, or 10 photos of the same thing than it does to get a single shot and move on. And it gives you a much better chance of getting the perfect timing on one of them to capture exactly how you felt at that time, or it gets you a funny or embarrassing shot that will be a talking point for years to come.
Many of our parents grew up in a time when they had to pay to get their photos developed so they would never even consider taking more than one photo at each place. And imagine how often that photo turned out to be crappy, with blinking, photobombers, camera blur… so take more photos people!
Tip #2 – Get plenty of the background in your shot
I always laugh when I see Instagrammers with a feed filled with close-up selfies that are tagged as being taken in some of the world’s most amazing places, but how can you really tell if they were there?
Caption “Another one of my bucket list! Soaking in the sights of Paris from the viewing deck of the Eiffel Tower”. Me looking closely at the photo… “Oh OK, maybe that little bit of grey metal behind her left ear could be part of the Tower???”
So, zoom back out people, and let some of the actual location be the hero. You can always crop the finished photo in tight with a quick edit if you just want that cute close-up later.
Tip #3 – Be yourself, be a bit crazy, or be both!
Look at photos from the middle of the 1900s and everyone in them looks so serious, even in travel pics, and the weird thing is that some people still do much the same thing now. Maybe they smile instead of frown but it can look so fake that you wonder if they actually enjoyed being there.
If you want to get some ‘nice’ photos of yourself to show the family then the best method is for your photographer to try to take them when you didn’t know they were being taken. A candid shot with you looking natural will almost always be much better than a stiff pose and a forced smile.
But if you want something to look back on that reminds you of how awesome it was to be there, or how much fun you were having then it’s time to follow the advice of those great modern-day philosophers LMFAO when they said “let’s all get ridiculous”. Do something a bit silly, or as they say, “dance like nobody is watching”, you might just like the way some of the photos come out and the memories and stories they bring out.
When you just don’t have the strength to keep taking photos.
From a young age, I learned the value of a great staged travel photo.
This may look stupid and dangerous but I can assure you it’s all about the camera angle. I am standing very safely on a wide ledge nowhere near a cliff. This wimp doesn’t do danger!
Have fun with camera angles. This photo is a lot more interesting than a front-on shot with a bird beside me.
Tip #4 – It’s OK to look like a tourist
With so many people these days trying to look like a model on their Insta, and all the nonsense and travel-shaming about tourist vs traveller, many of us have forgotten that no matter your travel style, the fact that you are somewhere new and not a local still makes you something of a tourist. And I’m here to tell you that it’s definitely OK to act like one…sometimes!
I don’t mean acting superior to locals in a less developed part of the world, or demanding everyone speaks your language while you refuse to learn theirs, but in a photography sense. Why wouldn’t you want the typical photo of yourself holding up the Leaning Tower of Pisa or doing one of those skewed perspective shots on the Bolivian Salt Flats?
These photos are fun to take and more fun to look back on, so don’t let the travel snobs try to shame you into not taking them.
Donut judge me… you know that you would do the same thing.
It doesn’t matter if it’s not unique, sometimes the standard tourist pic gets the job done.
Tip #5 – Don’t let ‘bad’ weather ruin your travel pics
Just because the sun didn’t play along with your carefully scripted travel plans doesn’t mean your trip is ruined or that you can’t still have some fun with your photos that can still pull out those memories down the track. Maybe you can do more indoor shots or come up with some ways to make the bad weather the star of the photo anyway.
The most scenic spot at the top of Switzerland. Crap weather, cool photo!
You’ve seen all those beautiful pics of Tulum in Mexico… this isn’t one of them! But it brings back fun memories.
Tip #6 – Create your own signature pose… or copy someone else’s
As Wandering Donut I have taken photos all around the world of me holding a donut with some amazing backgrounds off in the distance, but I also have a few other signature poses that I use for my own amusement and also for Insta. My parents also have come up with their own poses with mum’s ‘starfish’ and dad’s ‘Spartacus’. Now you can see where I get my willingness to look a bit silly on camera.
An awesome sunset in Mexico was the perfect backdrop for a mum starfish.
The stunning Arches National Park in the USA was another chance for a mum starfish.
Mexican ruins and a classic dad Spartacus pose.
Canyonlands National Park… WOW! Dad Spartacus… classic!
Tip #7 – Don’t stress that there are other people in the shot
A few years ago I would desperately hope for a break in the crowd so that I could get my shot without a bunch of other people in frame, or I would desperately try to edit them all out later. But I have come to realise that having the other people in the photo actually helps me remember what it was like to actually have been there in the first place.
It can make a great photo when you are in a busy place like the Pantheon in Rome, Times Square, or at Chitzen Itza in Mexico doing something a bit unusual surrounded by a crowd of super-serious strangers. Make them part of the story, don’t leave them on the cutting room floor.
People everywhere but they weren’t going to stop me from being me!
I started editing out the people but then realised that them being there was part of the experience.
The chances are that you were having an amazing time while you were travelling, so why wouldn’t you want all of your photos from the trip to look and feel like it? It doesn’t take much to raise your game and change from taking snapshots to taking awesome piccies that everyone wants to see, including your family that had to stay at home.