We’ve Consulted the Experts: 5 Tips for Better Travel Photos

Bon voyage!

As you park your car in our convenient-to-the-airport Park & Jet Calgary lot and enjoy our trunk-to-trunk transport to your departure area, your thoughts might be wandering to your destination and all the excitement that awaits.

If you are like many, you are going to want to capture your trip in photos so that later, you can re-experience the highlights and share them with others.

Here are 5 top tips for taking better travel photos

Tip 1: Have a clear primary focus

Is the focus of the photo the travellers or something about the trip itself? Often, people mix the two. Result? Not a good shot of either.

The focal point of the photo should be framed well, show detail, and capture the essential mood of the moment.

Tip 2: Tell a story

A great picture always tells a unique, memorable story. It might be about the wildflowers growing out of the cracks in the churchyard gravestones. Perhaps it's the shining face of a young child biting into ripe fruit, as the juice drips over his or her fingers. Maybe it's the ray of early morning or late evening light that illuminates the worn stones of the local museum.

Always try to make your photos self-explanatory. Trust us—your friends are going to get tired of your long explanations about each picture.

Tip 3: Do your research

Top travel photographers find out about their destinations—intimately. They make a list (mental or physical) of locations which appeal to them and learn which conditions favour the best shots in each location. Is it optimal at sunrise? Sunset? What about the elevation? Will it be overrun by tourists preventing clear views?

You can, of course, just arrive, take things as they come, and perhaps get a few great snaps. However, pre-trip preparation appears to up your chances of getting those 'wow' photos.

Tip 4: Learn a few important phrases in their language

Local portraits make for some of the most intense photos. Many locals will be happy to have their picture taken if you go about it respectfully.

  • If they are selling something, buy one. Think of it as a photo fee.
  • Always ask permission. Learn how to say, "May I take your picture?" in their language.
  • Respect their "no." Say "thank you" in their language, smile, and move on. They don't owe you a photo after all.

Tip 5: Throw out the rule book

Forget everything you've heard about travel photos and just shoot, shoot, shoot. Today's digital cameras and phone camera apps mean that it doesn't cost you anything to take and see your photos. You can snap 100 pictures and delete every single one of them for the low price of some battery power. The more pictures you take, the more you will get a feel for what makes a great shot.

And today, it is more than acceptable to edit your photos with one of the many apps available, turning good pictures into great ones.

Want some photo tips?

Check out the snaps on the 2018 Travel Photographer of the Year (TPOTY) winners page and these Canadian national award winners.

Check out more travel photo tips at National Geographic and Expert Vagabond .

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posted April 18, 2019

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