How to Take Better Travel Photographs

Travel photography is one of the most rewarding hobbies out there. Not only do you get to show off your photography skills, but you also get to relive your travels every day later when you look at your pictures. So to prove you actually did parasail over Peoria or tango in Tahiti, take photographs.


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    Be inconspicuous. Pack as little as possible. Don't carry a camera bag that looks like one. If you're in a crime-ridden area, put the camera strap over your right shoulder, under your jacket, with the lens facing toward your body. It's a quick flip of your wrist to bring the camera to your eye with your right hand.
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    Shoot what interests you. If the Taj Mahal is underwhelming but the street vendors are fascinating to you, shoot the street vendors. You can always get clich├ęd tourist shots at the postcard shop, so don't bother with those. Be adventurous. Approach locals and ask to photograph them as they go about their business If you are told not to take photos then acknowledge their request and looks elsewhere, however most people will agree, and you'll end up with better photos and maybe a good story.
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    Show people, and show them doing something. Carrying bricks, playing stickball in the street, selling fish, having dinner... anything that lets a viewer in on how they live their lives. Don't ask people to pose! Let your subjects go about doing their thing rather than stopping them to pose. Occasional portraits in front of spectacular views are great, but more than a few of them are tedious for the subject and your audience.
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    Get close. If your pictures are not turning out very well, you may want to get closer to the subject. Use your zoom, or better yet your feet, to fill the frame with your subject and eliminate anything in the background that is distracting. But don't get too close either, as this may lead to distortion.
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    Take scenery pictures. Taking vacation photos is all about making memories. You will definitely want to remember how beautiful the area was that you visited. If you see something that you consider remarkable, such as a sunset, flowers, mountains, etc., take a photo.
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    Remember to take photos of the people you are traveling with. Include them in photos with scenery; such as near the ocean, or near places you went; such as a restaurant or museum. That way, you not only remember where you went, but who went with you.
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    Take advantage of the time of day. The light is most interesting in the hours just after sunrise and just before sunset, and at those times even mundane scenes can look magical. Plan some of your landscape and street-scene photography for those hours. Also, bad weather and the shadows or mist it creates can lead to good photos, so put on the raincoat and go explore.
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    Use flash to fill in in bright light and to reduce blur if the subject matter is moving. The use of a flash will freeze movement so if a picture repeatedly turns out blurry, try using the flash. Even if it's not necessarily needed, it usually helps decrease the blur. Similarly, if it is a sunny day, the faces of your subjects may even so be in shadow. Using the flash will get the light where you need it and keep the faces from being overwhelmed by the sun in the background.
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    Do not use digital zoom. On digital cameras, you have both 'Optical Zoom' and 'Digital Zoom.' It is common when you take photos with digital zoom that the result is a blurry picture. Optical Zoom makes a clearer photo. Look at the settings of your camera and turn off Digital Zoom.


  • Learn how to say "May I take your picture please?" in different languages.
  • See examples of good travel photography. Sometimes it helps to see how other people have photographed their travels. Seeing what you like and dislike helps to improve the quality of your photographs.
  • Prepare your camera each day right after shooting, by recharging the batteries and replacing the memory card, or downloading the images if you can. This way you are ready first thing the next day and will not have to delay your travels to get that camera ready for shooting.
  • Carry a small notebook and pencil (pencils write in the rain) to jot down the addresses of people to whom you want to send photos.
  • If using a film camera, use lots of film! Keep in mind that what you see may never be the same in the future. If you're on a budget, keep in mind you have a limited amount of shots and make it count. If using a digital camera, be sure to bring extra batteries or a battery charger as well as spare memory cards!
  • Think about sharing your photos with others around the world by uploading them to flickr or to the Wikimedia Commons. Maybe some of your work will be used one day on wikiHow or elsewhere.


  • When in another culture, be aware that others may not take kindly to you snapping photographs of them or their surroundings. Be respectful of the customs in the cultures you visit.
  • When photographing near steep drops, be mindful not to move the wrong direction while looking through the camera. A few steps while you are looking through the viewfinder could send you hurtling into a ravine.
  • Make sure to take notice of any signs that prohibit photography in a specific area (such as a security installation). In some places this is a major offence and the last thing you want on your vacation is to bail a family member out of jail!
  • Ask the parent before taking shots of young children.

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Categories: Nature and Outdoor Photography