Tips for Taking Travel Photos

I love traveling and I love hearing stories of my friends traveling, but as soon as someone pulls out their phone to show me their travel photos, I typically check out. 

I know what the Eiffel Tower looks like and I know for certain you aren’t doing it any justice, which is a shame because travel photos can be such an incredible tool for telling the story of the vacation you just had. 

I’m convinced that if we all took better travel photos, more people would get out into the world and expand their worldview. 

I’m also sure that better travel photos would make me much more interested to hear about your Honeymoon. So, here’s a beginner’s list on how to take better travel photos.

Better Travel Photos: Keep Patterns in Mind

While my number one travel photography tip could just have easily focused on composition, I think I’ve effectively covered composition already. 

So, I’m focusing on patterns. The human mind is hardwired to search for patterns in everything. Patterns are what keep us safe. Patterns are also aesthetically beautiful and can convey the sense of a place, like in the photograph above. From that one photo, it becomes clear that the building the photographer is in is incredibly ornate. 

I’d argue even if the photographer had captured just one of the patterns, like the bottom of the pool or the long columns, this sense could still be conveyed.

Plus, it’s always easy to find patterns while traveling because they are everywhere in nature, from pine trees to prairies full of flowers, and people love to recreate these natural patterns in architecture, like in the church above.  

Whenever you’re traveling, watch out for patterns, and you could very well have a much-improved set of photos on your hands.

Better Travel Photos: Leading Lines Are Your Friend

Leading lines help the photographer to redirect the viewer’s eyes, but they also convey a sense of adventure.

And leading lines are almost as easy to find as patterns. You can use roadways, bridges, buildings, windows and just about any object known to mankind to bring redirection to your travel photos. 

Keep in mind: most travel photography tips are just beginner photography tips in disguise, so take a beginning photography class if you haven’t already. 

Better Travel Photos: Add Depth

When taking a photograph of someone, try to add depth by placing an object both in front of them and behind them. Every photograph, unless it is an extreme close-up or a hero shot, should have at least three layers to it.

Look to your foreground, midground and background in every photo to stop taking bland two-dimensional images. 

If you want your viewer to really feel like they travelled with you, then you need to bring them into the shot with depth.

In the photo above, the photographer’s legs and feet and the beautiful lichen-covered boulder in the foreground create lots of interest in the shot. 

But these elements also create depth by adding a layer of interest in front of the rocky shoreline in the midground and the water in the background.

Better Travel Photos: Photos Are For Storytelling

The number one reason why travel photographs are usually so boring is that they are just what I mentioned above: a photo of something you’ve seen before, with no added story.

I’ve seen hundreds of images of the Eiffel Tower, why would I want to see yours?  

Try to get your viewer to feel what you felt while you were taking the photograph. In the shot above, that could easily have been just another photo of a waterfall, but by including the gentleman in the photo, staring up at the waterfall, you can tell how small the photographer might have felt while taking it. 

Think about how the camera placement aided in this endeavor.

I think storytelling is one of the main reasons why the photography trend of taking photos out of your tent or van started.  

By taking a picture like the one above, the photographer is saying look at how big the world is and look at how small we are. It invites you to come along on a journey with the photographer to explore the world around them.

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