Travel Photography Tips


1. Research your trip beforehand
To make the most of your travel photography, research and plan most of your trip beforehand. Get a good travel guide or use some of the numerous travel guides on the web. Prepare a list of possible shots together with details on transport, weather and costs involved. For professionals or for travel stock photography, preparation is essential. Smart phones, tablet PCs and mini laptops can be useful in planning and on the road in terms of maps, communication and information. An additional benefit is the option of backing up images to hard drives or onto high campacity mini SD or SD cards.

2. Buy specialized travel insurance
Anyone taking a variety of expensive cameras and lenses to exotic, or even nearby travel destinations, should seriously consider taking specialized travel insurance which provides adequate cover for all photographic equipment. Many standard travel insurance policies will not cover expensive digital slr cameras or lenses.

3. At airports, keep your expensive equipment in your hand luggage.
Split your equipment between bags when going through airport security. Always keep the most expensive pieces of equipment in your hand luggage to prevent loss or theft.

4. Keep photographic equipment to a minimum for your travels.
Minimize the amount of photographic equipment you take on your travels. Many photographers try and take a huge variety of photographic equipment to cover all situations but this just slows down the photographer's ability to take photographs as well as enjoying the experience. For a beginner, just two high quality digital cameras covering wide angle to super telephoto together with a travel tripod will cover most situations. The second camera is very important in case the first camera malfunctions. Always keep fully charged spare batteries as well as additional memory cards or external hard disks which allow backups on the move.

Advanced amateurs or professionals will lean more towards digital slr cameras. Fortunately many digital slr cameras are now quite light and easily portable. Two digital slr camera bodies together with wide angle and telephoto zoom lenses will cover most situations. A powerful external flashgun, travel tripod, spare rechargeable batteries, multiple large capacity memory cards or external hard disks and a good camera case or bag should also be considered. For the ultimate in quality, take along some prime lenses such as a 100mm macro lens or a super wide angle lens.

5. Study local customs to avoid offending anyone.
To avoid offending anyone or something worse, study your destination and the customs of its people. Many people do not like being photographed and in some Islamic countries, photographing women is not permitted.

6. Obtain a signed model release for stock or commercial photography.
If your intention is to use photographs of people for stock photography, magazine submissions or other areas related to the sale of photographs, make sure you obtain a signed model release. Many people are happy to sign a model release once it is explained to them. Language difficulties can be a major problem in which case it would be worthwhile to find someone who can translate or prepare notes in advance in the local language.

7. Photographic light is best at sunrise and sunset.
For the best landscape images, wake up early and take shots during sunrise or wait until late afternoon and take shots before and during the sunset when the light is warm.

8. Always use a tripod or support for night shots or low light photography.
For night shots or low light shots, always use a tripod for the best results. Many digital cameras or digital slr cameras now have built in image stabilization and although this can be useful to some extent, for shots requiring slow shutter speeds, a tripod is still the best solution.

9. Photograph a variety of subjects when travelling.
Variety is the spice of life. When travelling, take a wide variety of shots from large landscapes to macro shots of insects and flowers and everything in between. To improve your photography, experiment with taking shots of people, landscapes, animals, cityscapes, buildings, street scenes, food and drink, major sights, aerial views and other subjects.

10. To improve your travel photography, set your camera to manual.
To gain a deeper understanding of photography and light, set your camera to manual and experiment with manually setting the aperture and shutter speed. This will give you the knowledge and expertise for various subjects such as freezing action for a moving subject or maximizing depth of field in a landscape shot.

11. Minimize dark or grey skies in your composition when the weather is bad.
When the weather is less than ideal with strong winds, rain or worse, keep taking photographs by minimizing the area given to dark or dull skies in the composition. It goes without saying that the camera and lens should be kept protected from the elements unless it has weather proof seals.

12. For long periods of travel, backup up images to the cloud or dvd or external hard disk and post home.
If you are going to be travelling for a long period of time such as a few months, it is important to keep backups of all the photographs on an external hard disk and if facilities are available, burn the images onto a dvd and post them home. Alternatively, upload to the cloud if there is fast internet access. Nothing is worse than taking thousands of images from various locations over a few months and then have your bag stolen or lost before the end of your travels.