10 Tips for Taking Better Photos While Traveling
Posted by Chelsea Bancroft on
Hi there, I am Chelsea, the travel blogger behind One Chel of an Adventure! I started my blog over a year and a half ago when I moved to Sydney, Australia and wanted to share some of my hard-learned lessons here. While living down under, I had the opportunity to travel all around Australia, Fiji, New Zealand, Bali, and South East Asia. I have always loved photography, so combining it with travel has been a dream come true! I am back living in Austin, but have some fun trips planned for 2018. I’ve learned a lot while abroad about travel photography and am excited to share some of my best tips and tricks!
Think About Where You’re Going
It’s always a good idea to think about where you’re going and consider what lenses would be best for that situation. For example, when I was in New Zealand, it was all about the beautiful landscapes, so of course, a wide angle lens was best. But if you’re visiting say, a zoo or safari, a telephoto lens with a great zoom is best for capturing animals up close.
Deciding How Much Gear to Pack
"How much to pack?" The question I ask myself before every single trip. There is never a good answer to this. If you bring too much, you'll be annoyed that your bag's heavy. Bring too little? You’ll end up wishing you had brought whatever you left behind. Learn to accept that you'll never be totally happy with what you've packed and make what you did work!
Always Bring Cleaning Tools
I learned this one the hard way. Your lenses are bound to get smudged or dirty while traveling, so it's important to clean them often (I suggest everyday). I failed to do this once and a whole day's worth of shots had a blurry smudge in them.
Beware of Sand
Those pesky grains of sand are a camera’s worst nightmare. I brought my camera with me camel riding through sand dunes. Unfortunately, I ended up getting sand in my lens and completely broke the auto-focus. I ended up having to replace the whole lens! Nearly every camera manufacturer makes "pro" level lenses that are sealed with rubber gaskets that can help prevent sand from getting into places it shouldn't be. While more expensive, the lenses offer substantially better image quality as well.
Time of Day is Everything
Yes, you're on vacation and just want to relax, but a lot of times, the best photos you're going to get are reaaal early in the morning, right before sunrise. The lighting is wonderful, and most people are still sleeping, so there's less crowds and photo bombers. If you’re going to be taking landscape photos, consider where the sun is going to be in the sky. If it’s late in the afternoon, the harsh sunlight can create a glare in your photos. The time around sunset isn’t called the “golden hour” for nothing — the lighting is great for taking photos!
Scout Photo Ops Before the Trip
I always like to Google "best photo spots in ____" before I travel somewhere. It provides some good inspiration. You don't have to copy the exact same photo everyone has, but it's worth it to see where some awesome places are. I use Instagram geotags and hashtags to find spots too.
Invest in a Tripod
This was hard for me to do at first, because I didn't want to spend the money — it’s way more fun to spend it on a new lens. But trust me, it's worth it to have a good quality tripod. You can get really cool long exposure shots, shoot in lower light, and of course, get selfies when you're traveling solo!
Add a Human Element
When posting photos on Instagram, people tend to “like” ones with someone in them more than just a plain landscape. Why is that? Well, people enjoy living vicariously through human subjects in photos, it lets them kind of experience the location themselves. This is the reason so many travel bloggers post photos not looking at the camera/from behind.
Beware of Theft
There are a couple things you can do to protect your gear — never check your camera gear in your bag, always carry it on to a plane. If you’re leaving something back in the hotel for the day, always lock it in the safe. Beware of having your camera swinging around your neck, it’s easy to snatch it off or cut the strap. Invest in a theft proof camera bag. When I was traveling through South East Asia, I felt safe carrying my gear around in my PacSafe bag. It’s slash proof, has lockable zippers, and is weatherproof
Always Back-Up Your Photos
I can’t stress this one enough! Back up your photos every single day. For one, it clears space on your memory cards. And two, it ensures you don’t lose your images. I like to keep them on my computer AND a back-up drive just in case.
Check out the Gnar Box, an innovative, waterproof and shockproof solution that allows you to store, back up and edit Raw photos on the go.