The A-Z of Travel Photography
Travel photography is the ultimate way to sink your teeth into the planet’s innumerable aesthetic marvels. By mastering the art of travel photography, you can experience the complete cultural spectrum and keep a piece of it for yourself when you move on. But for those of you with a taste for travel and a thirst for photographic knowledge, you’ll know that travel photography is much, much more than just spontaneous snaps with a disposable – and here’s what separates the professionals from the amateurs.
If you want to ensure you make the most of your location, conduct some preliminary research before you make the trip. By identifying aesthetic landmarks, natural marvels and points of interest, you’ll have your photographic agenda sorted before you even arrive – leaving you free to soak up your surroundings and travel off the beaten track in pursuit of the perfect shot.
As a photographer, you’ll want to concern yourself less with tourist hotspots and more with the obscure corners of your destination which are guaranteed to be packed with cultural richness and one-of-a-kind aesthetics. This is the key to ensuring that your images have more than just the makeup of an exceptional photograph, but also the character of a unique and authentic experience.
Max Hartshorne, Editor at GoNOMAD.com
Travel photography isn’t really about the gear – but that doesn’t mean that exceptional adventure shots won’t require some photographic prowess. By guaranteeing that you’re using all of the technical skills at your disposal, you can be sure to come out with stunning travel shots to rival the paid professionals.
Here’s the scoop:
- Use Aperture Priority mode (Av) – this helps you achieve maximum depth of field, ideal for sweeping landscape shots that are sharp from front to back
- Use a telephoto lens for natural portraits of locals – this way you can blur distracting backgrounds and keep the focus on your subject
- Get creative with composition. Obey the Rule of Thirds and try placing your subject in the left or right area of the frame, rather than dead-centre – and try incorporating leading lines which point to your subject. These little tricks will make for an infinitely more satisfying composition
- For subjects in motion, increase your ISO to achieve a perfect action freeze-frame
- Shoot in RAW – this way, your image will contain much more data than a standard JPEG where your post-processing options are limited
An Audible Voice
As a travel photographer, your purpose extends beyond capturing good-looking scenes on camera. The greatest weapon in your arsenal is an ability to convey concepts and make statements through photography – delivering powerful messages through images on your travels. This potential to have two-dimensional media work as a stimulating, multi-sensory art form is an exciting thing and perhaps the most rewarding aspect of photography.
While travelling, it’s inevitable you’ll come into contact with diverse and fascinating cultures. Some will be enlightening and inspiring, where the circumstances of other communities across the world can be a frightening eye-opener. Professional travel photographers accept the role of documenting and delivering these rich stories – creating images that not only look good but really say something.
The paramount component of winning travel photography is a love of new experiences and a commitment to adventure. More important than having the right gear and even doing your research is to approach travel photography with a sense of wonder and eagerness to explore and capture your findings and highlights as you go.
Ignore clichéd agendas and generic travel brochures – the beauty of authentic travel photography is in the personal journey, taking your own routes and finding your own landmarks, stumbling upon the obscure corners of your destination and looking under the proverbial rocks to find something no-one has looked at from your perspective before. Embrace your inner adventurer and any photograph you take on your travels will serve as a reminder of your experience.
Laurence Norah, findingtheuniverse.com
Image by Joe Cornish
Brendan van Son, brendansadventures.com
Rules were made to be broken, and that’s especially true with photography. Achieving exceptional travel shots means thinking outside the metaphorical box – so take risks with your composition and especially with your subjects. Rather than contributing to the generic universal portfolio by photographing the same tourist attractions that have been snapped a thousand times before, find people or places or things that are unique and evocative – with their own sense of character and authentic photographic potential.
Spend some time ignoring the Rule of Thirds, defying photographic norms and taking chances in pursuit of that perfect shot.