Being a travel photographer often puts one in a situation where he or she needs to think on their feet about how to use the best of the gear they have. Travel photographers need to compromise between carrying a lot of equipment (which can be a tedious task) and not utilizing all of the tech available (which can impact the photo quality).
In this guide, we cover six simple hacks to help you take better photos while traveling. You will learn how to improve your photo game, both in terms of social media visibility and artistic quality. All of this while you go with as little gear as possible and with no expensive studio to back you up.
1. Get an all-round lens for travel photography
2. Use the golden and blue hours for more artistic shots
3. Edit your photo “on the go” and post them online
4. Shoot handheld and enjoy the moment
5. Include people in your photos
6. Tell a story of a place you have visited through your photos
It can be tempting to fill your backpack with lenses, ranging from macro to telephoto. Still, it is not practical in terms of physical effort, not to mention it can cause excess costs at the airport. To mitigate this issue while maintaining your photographic portfolio, invest in an all-around lens.
It should be a zoomable lens with a focal range ranging from 24-700 mm. It is also desirable to have a wide aperture throughout the whole range of zoom to avoid blown-up and underexposed areas in low-light conditions.
These types of lenses are very versatile, and they provide a wide range of possibilities. You can shoot excellent portraits in the golden hour, and shoot landscapes the next morning.
The goal of every travel is definitely not to get enough sleep. Use the opportunity while you are in the go-mode and get up early in the morning.
Take photos of the beach while the sun is still sleeping and catch great blue-hour photos with nuances of blue colors acting as a natural photo filter. You can do the same thing in the afternoon, just when the sun decides to set in. I found this to be useful in urban places in particular.
I took numerous photos of coastal cities with warm shadows ranging from red to gentle blue, all while shooting during the golden hour. This part of the day is also enriching in portrait photography. You will quickly achieve awesome shots of people with warm tones overlapping their skin complexion.
When discussing your online presence as a photographer, it is vital to follow trends and post relevant things. Relevance in terms of travel means to keep your followers engaged with the content just hours (or minutes) after you have finished creating it. In the real-world application, you will be required to use photo-editing programs and presets to edit images after taking them.
If you shoot with DSLR, they will come with their own photo editing programs. Still, my recommendation is to use Adobe or Luminar software. They will also allow you to create presets and make a beautiful niche look at your photos.
If you decide to snap with your smartphone, you can download apps from Appstore or Google Play and edit your pictures before posting them. It will save a lot of time, and you can use these programs on your laptop or phone, so you won’t have to worry about not having access to a photo editor for PC.
Travel photographers and backpackers often can not afford the space to carry around a tripod. And that is absolutely OK. In fact, you can use this to your advantage. Shooting with just your hands will make you think on the spot and allow you to capture more scenes faster compared to the time you would have to dedicate to just adjusting the tripod. Taking photos from your hands is also a way to enjoy spontaneous shots and explore various scenes.
When you have to rely just on yourself with shooting, you will find a way to utilize walls and fences as support for your elbows to avoid camera shakes and vibrations. You will find out that you can use many surfaces as alternatives to a tripod. But the best of all is that you will have the flexibility to shoot different angles and scenes without having to worry about logistics and heavy gear.
Though it can be tempting to just take photos of mesmerizing scenes of natural landscapes and city architecture, your photos will come alive if a person is included. Take pictures of bystanders and passengers, your friends, and fellow travelers.
You can also take a selfie in front of some landmark (it will be a bit tricky if you shoot with DSLR, but it can be done). Including real people can make your photos come to life and add depth to the type of photography that is generally aimed at shooting scenes without human subjects. It is one of the most simple hacks you can use, but it will surely disilicate your photos.
Upon visiting a new site and exploring a bit, tell a story of that place through your photos. Every spot on Earth has its own unique landscapes, architectural style, cuisine, climate, and landmarks. Wrap them all together to give a full impression of that place. Wonder how to do it? Start out with shooting natural landscapes and then move out to urban portions of the city. After that, try to wrap it up with some monuments and landmarks.
In the end, you can shoot macro photos of specialties served in local restaurants. In this way, you and people who will see your portfolio will be persuaded that you have lived through that place and that you were not a passing-by tourist. Getting this advice right takes a little bit of patience and dedication, but it will yield good returns on your time and mental efforts put in.
So, there you have it; six hacks for travel photography that will get you going places. Sometimes it will be nearly impossible to apply all of these tips in one go, but you can give it a shot. Nevertheless, using just some of them on one occasion and other at some other point in your travels will provide you with better photos of places you visit.