How to Take Better Travel Photos

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I believe that traveling and photography go hand in hand. I invested in a pricey DSLR camera because I wanted to capture moments and remember the places I’ve been to in high-quality photographs. I didn’t want to miss a thing. But I quickly realized that good photography is not as simple as having an expensive camera, pointing it, and pressing a button. As many seasoned photographers say, ‘the best camera is the one you have with you’. Photography is an art form and it takes creativity and practice to produce that amazing picture.

Outside of taking photos, developing a photographer’s eye can even change your perspective and help you appreciate where you are even more.

This skill counts even more when you’re traveling. You can miss out by taking bland photos at an amazing location. Outside of taking photos, developing a photographer’s eye can even change your perspective and help you appreciate where you are even more. Looking at a great photo can take you back to the location and lets you remember the experience and what it felt like to be there.

Forget about tacky filters! Practicing these tips, you will start to see a difference in the quality of your travel photos!

*With the exception of the cover photo, all photos in this post were taken by me! ☺️📸


Utilize the Rule of Thirds

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The rule of thirds is probably the very first thing you will hear when learning about composition in photography. Imagine lines breaking down your screen into thirds, both horizontally and vertically, forming a grid. The idea is to line up the most important part of your photo where the lines intersect instead of directly in the center.

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Having the focal point off-center produces a more interesting photograph that has a balance between the subject and negative space.

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Utilizing the lines themselves also help to frame your images. For example, aligning the horizon or shoreline of your photograph with the imaginary grid lines creates a better photograph.

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Horizon line aligned with the rule of thirds.

However, this is not a hard-line rule of course and can be broken especially if you want to creatively experiment. An exception to this rule is when you want to point out the symmetry of the scene. Framing the scene directly in the center does this job well.

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Center symmetry.

Mix Up Your Shooting Angles

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If your camera has a tilt screen, use it!

Changing the height of your shots can greatly affect the look and feel of the photos you take. Not only does it make the photo much more interesting than just shooting straight on, it changes the perspective of how you see the subject or view. A lot of cameras being produced now have swivel or tilt screens making it super easy to take shots way above your head or down below.

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Camera low shooting up.
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Get low to the puppers’ eye level.

Shooting down low can bring about a smaller, child-like, perspective and accentuate the grandness of your subjects like buildings or mountains. Raising your camera above your head and looking down at your subject creates a wider, bird’s eye perspective of the scene.

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Looking down at a wedding photoshoot.

Make Use of Leading Lines

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Composing your shots with leading lines in mind help in leading the viewer’s attention to a particular part of the image. It also creates a sense of depth and gives dimension to your photos, connecting the foreground with the background.

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Eyes are drawn towards the bridge.

Leading lines can take many forms. The easiest are roads or long pathways. Typically, leading lines start outside the composition leading in. However, it doesn’t have to be straight lines. It can be curved like a beach shoreline or a river. It just has to lead your eyes from one part of the image to another.

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Eyes are drawn towards the end of corridor.

Include a Candid Person

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Having someone candid in the shot adds a genuine personal reaction or emotion that tells a unique story about that time and place.

When we are at a scenic location, we typically would take a photo of what we are seeing without people. Including a person or two in your travel photos can create a more interesting photo, especially if the people are locals in their natural element.

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A stoic businessman waiting patiently for his ice cream.

Even better if it is taken candidly. Nothing wrong with smiling and posing, it’s just that it becomes a typical and cheesy photo. Having someone candid in the shot adds a genuine personal reaction or emotion. This is how someone would naturally look like when exploring and experiencing this location. Capturing someone’s reaction can also create a photo that tells a unique story about that time and place. Finally, a person in the photograph can act as a focal point to emphasize the scale of the location or background.

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Shooting Through a Frame

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This is a neat little trick you could use to make your photos more interesting. Try to place your subject within a natural frame in the scene. Anything, really, can be used as a frame. Doorways, through windows, through foliage, or buildings – use your imagination to frame your subject. It can be used to tell a story of the location or your subject.

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Shooting through a “frame.”

Pictures of subjects taken through bars or a gate can portray a feeling of being enclosed or trapped. A couple framed through blurred out flowers in the foreground creates a candid romantic image.


Bonus: Learn the Mechanical Basics of Photography

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I captured this night view of San Francisco from the Twin Peaks by setting a long exposure time.

Take full creative control of your pictures!

Take time to learn the mechanical basics of photography. I categorized this as optional because I feel a lot of cameras these days, including top smartphones, take really good photos on auto. However, learning about apertures, shutter speed, iso, different types of lenses, etc. can greatly expand your creative capabilities. You know how to control what the final image will look like instead of relying on the automatic algorithm of the camera. You have full creative control.

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A wide open aperture is great for food pics!

It also helps with difficult to shoot situations like low light or action scenarios. Lowering the aperture, decreasing the shutter speed, or increasing the iso settings can help you take photos in low light. Increasing the shutter speed and iso is great for capturing fast moving action shots, like sports or active kids, without the motion blur.

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Fast moving action shot with increased shutter speed.

Practicing these tips, you will start to see a difference in the quality of your travel photos as well as develop a photographer’s eye that can change your perspective and help you appreciate the places that you visit even more!

Again, don’t forget to bookmark or follow Aventures and Things for albums360 photos and videostravel ideasproduct reviews, and advice on my latest travel and adventures!

*With the exception of the cover photo, all photos in this post were taken by me! ☺️📸

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Enjoy!

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