6 Easy Secrets for Brag-Worthy Travel Photos

This is a guest post by Debbie Fishman.

You might not be a professional photographer, but that doesn’t mean you can’t snap an amazing photo every now and then. Especially if you are traveling through one of the most picturesque places this world has to offer. It used to be that guide books and tour guides were every travelers best friends; though now it’s more common to see a fellow backpacker with a smart phone and camera in hand. If you are about to set out on a RTW trip, here are six ways to improve the photos you’ll inevitably take.

Petrones Tower

The Petrones Towers of Kuala Lumpur. Credit Tony George

Pick a Theme

The desire to capture in detail everything around you can be overwhelming. If you plan to be in one place for a few days, pick a theme or two for each day. Focus on food or architecture one day, colors a different day and locals the next. You can change themes throughout the day or snap photos of something off theme if you discover the perfect shot, but choosing a theme can offer direction.

Remember the Rule of Thirds

Photo composition determines if a shot is well-balanced and interesting or awkward and boring. The rule of thirds is an easy composition technique to remember that will instantly transform your travel pictures. The basic principle behind this rule is to imagine an image is sectioned into thirds both horizontally and vertically. With this grid in mind, it is easier to position subjects within the frame: generally in the top left, bottom left, top right or bottom right section. A subject placed in the middle instead of the left or right lacks the feeling of movement. Learn to off-center your subjects to see an immediate boost in your photo compositions. If that doesn’t come easy to you, consider taking a class to learn more techniques. Online photography courses at academyart.edu teach students the language of light, the rule of thirds, camera angles and more.

Tell a Story

sacred moment

Sacred Moment – an Indian wedding. Credit Tony George

Use the photos you take on your trip to tell a story about what you experienced. Don’t just focus on the landmarks or one or two amazing things you saw. If you slept in a traditional Chinese bed, take a picture of it. Snap a shot of your food and the conditions of the bus or train that takes you to the local landmarks. Photos not only capture memories but can evoke the smells, tastes and feelings of an experience.

Find Ideal Lighting

Try to utilize natural light whenever you can. If you are inside a museum or touring an ancient castle, angle your subject to receive sunlight from windows or use lamps to brighten an area instead of relying on the flash. When outside, take advantage of the early morning sun or the hour before sunset. These times as well as cloudy days are great for photo shoots because the soft, indirect sunlight captures subjects in their most vivid moments. Light coming from the midday sun is too bright and will bleach out subjects, causing people to squint and cast strong shadows in your photos.

Let’s Be Candid (But Know When to Pose)

Photos of smiling children in front of a waterfall or you standing proudly in front of the Eiffel Tower are a must, but don’t let them be the only shots taken that day. Capture natural moments of the kids playing in the water, your spouse playing bocce ball with the locals in Italy or you exploring the cobble streets of Mexico. Posed photos can prove that you were there; action shots will prove that you enjoyed yourself.

Use the Right Equipment

The right camera equipment is whatever you have on you at the moment. Be a minimalist while traveling. That doesn’t mean you can’t bring your 200mm camera, but don’t miss a moment because you are busy trying to swap out lenses. Keep a point-and-shoot with you at all times and leave the heavy gear at the hotel for an afternoon or two. A hand-held tripod is convenient for group shots or just ask a passerby to snap a photo for you.

Debbie Fishman used to be a flight attendant and now she writes about travel. She doesn’t miss waiting on people, but she does have a strong appreciation for attendants who can demonstrate how to fasten a seatbelt without scowling.

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