Essential Travel Photography Tips

One of my passions is photography and I frequently get questions related to how to take beautiful pictures while travelling and what equipment to bring.  So, without much ado, here are some of my top travel photography pointers:

Choose the right equipment for the right destination. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for travel photography.  You may want to bring a long telephoto zoom lens if you’re going on a safari looking for wildlife but a telephoto lens would be your last choice if you were vacationing at a resort in Mexico where perhaps a durable underwater point & shoot camera would be preferred to a bulky digital SLR which may attract sand or water.

Less is more.  Many people tend to over-pack camera equipment thinking they may need that lens or that flash in case a shot comes out.  However, I would recommend trying to bring as little as possible so you don’t have to worry about losing, carrying or damaging your equipment while travelling.  I usually bring one wide zoom lens (for example, a 16-35mm f2.8 lens) and one small prime lens (usually a 50mm f1.4 lens).  This lets me take wide shots that captures landscapes and buildings but also lets me carry a light portrait lens that doubles as a low-light lifesaver.

Backup your data.  Bring plenty of memory cards because there’s nothing worse than trying to delete some pictures you took earlier in the middle of a trip because you ran out of memory.  If you have a small netbook or backup external drive, bring that along so you can upload your pictures onto your hard drive.  Another alternative is to visit your hotel’s business centre or an internet café and to upload your pictures onto your server or website while you check your email.

Be safe. There are some places in the world that have people looking to take advantage of tourists and nothing says tourist like a guy with a big camera taking pictures of everything he sees.  Consider purchasing travel insurance for your gear if it is expensive and invest in good locks for your bags.  Some photographers like to also cover up the “Canon” or “Nikon” on their cameras with a small strip of black tape to not show off the camera.

Composition is key. Experiment with different types of composition when you take pictures.  After you’ve taken a picture of a subject, take a moment to consider how you can capture the same subject from a different point of view.  Try shooting from the ground or an elevated terrace for a unique perspective or put your subject off to different places in the photograph. 

 Get off the beaten track.  The most beautiful travel pictures I’ve seen are the ones that capture places where very few people have ever been or images of famous landmarks but taken from unique perspectives.  Tourists tend to flock to famous monuments and sights and take identical pictures of the same thing over and over. 

 Feel the culture.  I always try to take images that capture the local culture, feel and life of the place I visit.  At the end of the day, these photos should remind you of the culture that you were able to experience.  Looking at old photos should take you back to the feel of the wind hitting your face from the ocean, the scent of scrumptious local cuisine, or the thrill and majesty of spotting your first lion.

 With that, travel lots, have fun and keep shooting!

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