Every holidaymaker immediately thinks they’re the best photographer in the world. And why not? The gorgeous landscapes you find on holiday make taking beautiful pictures pretty easy. Modern smartphones and cameras also really help to make a lot of snapshots successful, as it’s usually quite difficult to mess up a photo with them – though not impossible.
For instance, were you ever certain that you’d taken an absolute masterpiece of a photo, only to find out it was blurry or overexposed when you looked at it later? Mistakes like that happen to the best of us, especially if you’re not too familiar with your camera.
It’s no fun to return home and find out that most of your holiday pictures have turned out bad. After all, we just want to share images of our wonderful, life-changing trip with friends and family. But, being stuck with blurry pictures that don’t capture your experience at all can be a let-down. So, to avoid this disaster, we’ve prepared a few tips to help you improve your travel photography skills before setting off on your next big trip.
The Best Tips for Travel Photography
Let’s start by talking about the next steps you can take to improve your photos. Get ready to see some simple tips you can use to take the quality of your travel photography to the next level.
Keep Your Lens Clean
Ever have smeary, unclear photos? You might sit there and think it was caused by something in the settings, even though the answer is much simpler, and much more obvious – clean your lens!
While it might sound like a suggestion straight out of a “Photography for Dummies” book, some people need a reminder. You’ll be carrying your camera with you and using it almost the entire day when travelling, so it’s easy to accidentally touch the lens and smudge it.
So, this is your reminder to keep your lens (and hands) clean! Don’t let this mistake that we all do at least once happen again.
Use Both Hands
Yet another tip that sounds too plain and simple. Yet, even the simplest of tips can sometimes be forgotten and ignored. By using both hands to take photos, you keep your camera more stable. This helps you to avoid rushing your photos too, since using both hands serves as a little reminder to take our time.
If you have a tripod, whether for your camera or your smartphone, this is even better than just using two hands. Sure, they can weigh a bit more and need to be carried around the whole day, but they make for amazing shots. Though, if you’re not in the mood to carry the extra weight, just stick to two hands.
Lighting Conditions and the Golden Hour
If you look out for the right lighting conditions, this can really boost the quality of your photos and give them a special touch. Some unique conditions you in should keep an eye out for are cloudy weather, sunrise, sunset or the “golden hour”. The golden hour is when the sky itself is kissed with gold and makes for perfect photos, no matter the landscape. That’s because at this point in the day, the sun hasn’t yet fully set and emanates a gorgeous golden light. Any photo subject bathed in this glow ends up looking truly divine.
Just remember, the golden hour usually only lasts for 20 to 30 minutes, making it a tight period for photography. Make sure to get yourself to the right place at the right time to take the most beautiful photos of your life!
Pay Attention to Your Horizon Line
If you’re taking photos under pressure, you might forget to hold the camera straight and in line with the surroundings. If you don’t have much time to take a photo, this is something that can often get disregarded, although it can have a huge impact on the quality of your photos. After all, a wonky picture is often less impressive and looks unprofessional.
However, it’s something that’s easy to correct by taking an extra second to correct your framing. Though, if you don’t remember to check this, photo editing software is your best friend!
Common Mistakes in Travel Photography
While tips can go a long way, we also made a list of the most common mistakes when taking travel photos. Correcting these is an easy task and will make the photos of your next trip pop. Ready? Let’s go!
This is the most common reason for a bad photo – taking too little time to get it right. If you just take a quick snapshot in the middle of tourist crowds and then continue on your way, this haste shows in your picture. So, give yourself some time and be a little picky about your photo subject. No one wants to look back on blurry landscapes when they’re trying to reminisce about their adventures abroad.
Lack of Camera Knowledge
Another common mistake is not getting to know your camera. Maybe you treated yourself to a brand-new camera for your holiday, but feel overwhelmed by the various buttons and menu options? This is a very well-known experience among travellers. Even simple photos can end up presenting a problem. Taking a good photo with a good camera usually requires some precise knowledge of the settings. Even just getting the shot in focus can cause some issues.
In a worst-case scenario, a phone camera can take a better shot than a professional camera if working with the wrong settings. So, if you’ve not taken the time to really get to know your fancy new camera, it would have been just as effective to save yourself some cash and just use your smartphone. Just don’t forget, a phone camera still has some features that are also worthwhile to learn!
Regardless of which camera you have, we really recommend learning to use your camera a few weeks before your trip. If you find yourself short on time due to other holiday preparations, make use of the flight or drive there to sit down with the manual and the camera itself.
Don’t ruin your holiday by spending the entire time messing with the camera settings. You’ll end up in a bad mood and potentially even spread it to your friends. Don’t let yourself forget the whole point of travelling is to take in the scenery around you and not battle with technology.
Bad Cropping and the Wrong Perspective
Not every scene makes for a good photo subject. Many landscapes and buildings look way more impressive in person than could ever be captured in a photo. Be selective about what you put in the frame, ensuring only the most attractive elements can be seen.
For example, try to use a panoramic photo to get as much of a skyline in a shot as possible. If you’re at the beach, you could play around with your framing. You might have seen professional photographers laying down on the floor or climbing up onto other objects – there’s a good reason for that. Try having more sky in the shot and less of the beach, or do the exact opposite.
Another recommendation is to set a goal for yourself. Perhaps try to get the most unique photo possible. Don’t just go for the most famous photo subjects that have all been shot from the same angle thousands of times. Give different perspectives a go, play with symmetry or try to find a unique angle for the objects in your photo – the results will speak for themselves.
Too Many Photos
Found the perfect scene? That’s great, but don’t overdo it! One photo taken from that angle will be enough. After your holiday is over, no one is going to be interested in looking at duplicates of the same photo.
That includes yourself – you’re the one who’s going to have to go through all the photos to delete the bad ones. By that point, you’ll really notice that you went overboard by trying to get the perfect shot of the same scene. This is why quality over quantity is a beloved motto for travel photography.
Also, make sure not to forget to take some photos of yourself and your travel companions. In a few years, it’s going to be the photos of your friends and acquaintances that will likely bring you the most joy looking back, instead of the 20 identical pictures of the same tourist attraction.
Did you get a little carried away, buying all the recommended gadgets to go with your camera? Did the salesperson give a good enough pitch to leave you swimming in a sea of expensive lenses? Well, if you’re a beginner, you probably won’t need them.
Ultimately, you’re not going to want to carry around tonnes of equipment on your trip just to take a few photos. The rule to follow here is: less is more! Even if you really get to know the ins and outs of the camera and all the gadgets, it’ll be difficult to find a use for all of them. Shed some unnecessary weight and keep things simple.
Which Camera Should You Take?
Nach all den Tipps fragst du dich nun bestimmt, welche Kamera du am besten verwenden solltest. Nun, das hängt ganz von dir ab!
As we’ve mentioned already, modern smartphone cameras can take great photos. If you don’t have super-high expectations and simply want a few beautiful snapshots of your trip, your phone should be more than enough.
You can even buy a few gadgets for your smartphone to make photography more fun and effective. There are all sorts of things on offer, including tripods, lenses and underwater cases. If you’ve got a good quality phone with a decent camera, some gadgets could help boost the quality of your photos.
Though, keep in mind that photos take up a lot of storage space on phones, which can lead to reduced battery life. You’ll likely be using your phone a lot while travelling to stay connected or use apps, so it’s important not to run out of battery. We therefore recommend saving your photos to an online storage system or taking a powerbank with you to keep your phone well charged.
Are smartphones not enough for you? Then it’s probably best to give an SLR a go. It’s best to get to know your camera before setting off on your trip. Once you understand how to use it, nothing can stand between you and some gorgeous holiday snaps.
If you’re not experienced with cameras, stick to entry-level cameras and make sure to read plenty of reviews. The more compact a camera is, the easier it is to take with you on long journeys. Don’t underestimate the weight of a smaller camera, though!
Naturally, you also have the chance to buy some accessories. As a beginner, you’ll likely only need the basic gear. Inform yourself about which ports the camera has and its lens mount (if it has interchangeable lenses), just in case you want to stock up in the future.
Do you have an adventurous trip planned? Or are you simply keen to try taking some underwater photos? Give action cameras a go. With this type of camera, you can record any adventure you go on, whether it’s a wild rafting tour, climbing, mountain biking, swimming, skiing, or anything else! A little action cam is suitable for all activities.
They’re extra impressive with how light they are, in addition to good photo and video quality. Plus, they often come with additional features. You can attach them almost anywhere, and they usually include wide-angle lenses, meaning you won’t miss any of the action.
It’s worth considering whether an action cam is going to be a more suitable choice for your trip if there are unique experiences that you’re hoping to capture. For normal pictures, though, you’ll still have your phone camera with you.
As you can see, photography on your travels can be improved with just a few simple tips and tricks. You can easily pick out a few exciting photo subjects that you can look back on with pride once your trip is over.
More importantly, try to avoid the more common mistakes! If you take tonnes of photos, one might coincidentally end up good. But, generally speaking, it’s better to consciously choose the best subjects for your photos and take the time to get your framing right! These tips should help you avoid annoying beginner’s mistakes.
As for cameras, the choice of which camera is best for you is really something you’ll need to consider for yourself. Do you value high-quality photos, or would you rather just have simple snapshots? Or is your aim to capture an action-filled adventure? These are all things to consider.
Of course, stunning backdrops might make photography easier, but not every picture of a tourist attraction is going to be a masterpiece. Take a few of our suggestions to heart and impress your friends and family with your new and improved photography skills!