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Tips for Beginning Travel Photographers

February 13, 2017
Photography
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Tips for Beginning Travel Photographers

A guest post by Ashley Murphy

Traveling is one of the best things that this world has to offer, and one of the most fun parts of going on any trip is being able to share it with the world! But being a travel photographer can be extremely intimidating to start off with, not knowing the proper equipment that you need, or how to take the best photo, or of being less self-conscious of taking a million selfies. Definitely easier said than done, so here’s a few tips for the beginning travel photographer!

The Gear

Picking out your camera and gear can be one of the most intimidating things to do, as there are so many options, but depending on what you want to do, the options are narrowed down a lot. For example, if all you’re looking to do is document your trip, there are a lot of things you can simply do with an iPhone. If you want to go bigger, the important thing to look at is what you’re really going to need out of a camera, and what you can afford to not have.

I personally use a Canon 6D, but have also taken a lot of trips with a Canon Rebel T6i, or even with just my iPhone. So don’t feel that you need to go to the most expensive to get the absolute best for your purposes. There are many different cameras available from a DSLR to a mirrorless, to even just your cell phone, so be sure to do your research about what you actually NEED to achieve what you are trying to do versus what is the best on the market in general.

Because there is so much information about the gear that you can use, stay tuned for a different post delving into just that gear!

Setting Up the Perfect Shot

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Now that you’ve got all of your gear, it’s time to focus on making the best photo that you can. Start off with a few things that you’ve probably already heard of. Use the Rule of Thirds to add some interest to your photo, but because so many people use that as a basis, it’s easy to fall into the cliché photography with this tool. I would suggest also playing with symmetry. Put your point of focus dead center in the photo, and try to have the scene surrounding it to draw your eye into it.

Another important thing with creating the perfect shot, is to look closer, and farther away. Take the shot that’s not the standard tourist photo, zoom into whatever you’re looking at, or take a step back and find a new perspective.

Above all when trying to find the perfect shot is to take a lot of photos, and I mean more than you thought ever possible. Take the standard photo, and a million others. If you do this, then chances are you’ll have one that you’re in love with, if you don’t, you’ll always be wondering “what if I had taken it this way”.

Self-Portraits

Taking portraits when traveling solo can be one of the most intimidating things to do. So I have come up with a few tips to help ease the stress. First and foremost: Ignore EVERYONE. Now that may not be the easiest thing to do, but if you go out and take your first photo, the damage has been done and you’ll be just fine capturing as many photos as you want. Also, who honestly cares if people see you taking photos of yourself? Odds are that you will never see those people again, and in two hours they’re going to forget they ever even saw you. So if someone wants to judge you for taking a photo of yourself capturing a moment in a new and beautiful place – I encourage you to let them. Also, the more that you do this, the easier that it will get.

Another thing that I strongly encourage you to do is to fall in love with your tripod and the timer on your camera. This way you can perfectly set up your shot, get the focus set (I suggest doing this by using a prop that you have with you), click the button and then you have a full amount of time to run into place, and get situated and ready. I would suggest having your camera’s timer at 10 seconds so you have the maximum amount of time to run and get in place, and then also have your camera set to burst mode. Burst mode will take a ton of pictures (usually 10, but you should be able to adjust the number if for some reason you don’t want that many). This is perfect especially if you’re looking for a more candid photo, as if you take 200 photos in 5 minutes, hopefully one of them will turn out good, right?

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If using the timer is still too much for you, there’s still no shame in taking your average selfie, That is what the front camera on your phone was invented for after all.

Learn How to Edit

Editing is one of the best things to learn when it comes to being a Travel Photographer, though the goal is to take the perfect photo with just utilizing your camera, this is not always the case. Editing your photos can give you that “perfect shot” while also giving you the opportunity to throw your own spin onto your photos. Who doesn’t love a good filter, right? I learned how to use Adobe Lightroom, and since then, the majority of my editing is done there, but not everyone has time to learn a program like that, or the funds to acquire it. Luckily, there’s an app for that. There are a lot of photo editing apps that you can place your nearly perfect photo in to make it an award winner. Here are just a few that I would suggest:

  1. Snapseed: Snapseed is an amazing all-around app for editing and retouching. With this app you can crop your photo, brighten it, use the healing brush to remove unwanted elements from your photos, such as the pesky photo bomber. This app also has numerous filters to help achieve whatever look you’re going for!
  2. VSCO: A lot of people refer to VSCO as “what Instagram used to be”, and it stands out from the other free editing apps with all of the filter options it has to give! The same staff has built filters for Adobe Lightroom, so you’ll get wonderful quality with this app!
  3. Adobe Lightroom: My personal favorite, you do need to have a subscription to creative cloud to use this app, but it is free with that subscription. This app allows you to edit everything from contrast to color to lighting at the slide of a bar, while also giving you several filters to add on top of those photos. Lightroom also allows you to save your photos “in the cloud”, so that you can edit them on your computer as well if you so choose. Perfect for quick editing on the go!
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Fake It Until You Make It

One of the most valuable things that I have ever learned in one of my photography courses was how to mimic someone’s work. That doesn’t mean copy exactly what another photographer is creating, but if you are in love with an image, try to get a similar image. This will help you get a great shot, and then will start to inspire your own creativity to get new shots. By copying all of those photos, you will also start to learn the skills that those other photographers have, having the most knowledge will help you create your best photograph. So search for tutorials, Follow photographers, and keep taking pictures.

This has been a guest post by Ashley Murphy

My name is Ash, I am a designer, photographer, writer, and above all an explorer. My addiction for traveling began back when I went abroad to New Zealand for six months spending every weekend venturing to a new place. Since then, the travel bug has hit, and the place I am tends to change as much as my hair color. Though the majority of my savings gets spent on experiencing new places (much to the demise of my frugal accountant mother), I would love nothing more than to travel to every corner of the world, experiencing all that it has to offer with the small amount of time that I have here.

Check our our next tips for beginning photographers!

Ashley Murphy

My name is Ash, I am a designer, photographer, writer, and above all an explorer. My addiction for traveling began back when I went abroad to New Zealand for six months spending every weekend venturing to a new place. Since then, the travel bug has hit, and the place I am tends to change as much as my hair color. Though the majority of my savings gets spent on experiencing new places (much to the demise of my frugal accountant mother), I would love nothing more than to travel to every corner of the world, experiencing all that it has to offer with the small amount of time that I have here.

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