Travel Photography Tips for Stunning Vacation Photos
Once you’ve booked your vacation, it’s time to think about what to pack and how to best prepare for your upcoming adventures. An important part of any travel experience is capturing beautiful, special images through travel photography. If you’re looking for some quick and easy ways to improve your photo-taking skills, you’ve found the right place. Breeze through these travel photography tips and get ready to take some crisp, clean, fabulous images. Enjoy your trip!
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Travel Photography: Camera Features & Settings
Before your upcoming vacation, take time to read through your camera’s instruction manual to learn about its various features. In your own city, experiment by taking photos of objects, buildings and people at various times of the day and at different distances. Take indoor shots and outdoor shots in a variety of lighting situations. Get comfortable with your camera’s settings before you leave for your trip.
Travel Photography: Save Old Images & Format Memory Cards
- Carefully review old photos on your memory cards. Save them on your computer or an external hard drive. Before moving forward, double check that these images were successfully saved.
- Erase the memory card to remove the old images.
- To start off with a totally clean slate and increase the performance of your memory card you must format your memory card. When you format a memory card all the images that were formerly saved on that card will be gone forever. And forever means just that. These are actual types of family photos we’ve lost over the years: Swimming with dolphins in Mexico, gorgeous images of our trip to Paris, university graduation photos of our daughter. So be very careful!
Travel Photography: Bring Extra Memory Cards & Batteries
Before your upcoming vacation, purchase two extra memory cards. This insures you can take a lot of photos and videos and still have ample memory for taking more! And if one of your memory cards becomes corrupted on your trip (unfortunately, this can happen), you’ll be happy you planned ahead and have a back-up. And be sure to pack extra batteries.
Travel Photography: Bring a Compact Camera
In addition to packing your large DLSR, be sure to pack a smaller compact camera that’s not a burden to carry around from place to place all day long. In a side life, my husband and I are travel bloggers for an international destination. On most days when we’re on vacation you won’t see us lugging around a large camera. Instead, for travel photography each of us carries our own Samsung Galaxy Camera 2 and two extra batteries. With 16.3 megapixels, 23mm wide angle lens, a touch screen, and the ability to connect to wifi, I refer to it as my “social media camera.” It’s not a phone but has all the same features, screen and icons as a smart phone. I absolutely love using it for travel photography! Every day when we’re out and about, we each carry two extra batteries for our cameras.
Travel Photography: Pack a Tripod and Exterior Flash
A portable light-weight tripod is perfect for travel photography. Use it to take selfies near monuments, museums, beautiful landscapes and more. It’s also very useful for taking evening photos in low-light as well as time-lapse photos of gorgeous sunsets. If you don’t have a tripod, locate a flat surface such as a table, fence, flat rock, etc. On the days when you’re carrying your large camera bag, it’s easy to pack an exterior flash so you’ll have it just when you need it.
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Travel Photography: Magical Lighting
There are two magical times of day for capturing stunning travel images. Soft lighting in the early morning hours is absolutely fantastic. You can beautifully photograph people, buildings and other objects without needing to worry about taking photos in specific angles to avoid harsh sunlight. The second best time of day for gorgeous, warm natural light is in the late afternoon. Use the harsh-sun hours (11 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.) to tour museums and other indoor facilities where you can take a series of lovely photos while you wait for more ideal sunlight conditions to resume your outdoor travel photography.
Travel Photography: Direct Light with Collapsible Reflector & Diffuser
During mid-day hours when the sun is high in the sky and there aren’t enough clouds to diffuse the light, deep unflattering shadows are often cast on landmarks and on people (eye sockets, chin and nose). Take a moment to study the light. Then start by holding a diffuser between your subject and the sun. If time allows, experiment by using a combination of both a reflector and a diffuser. A 5-in-1 portable, collapsible, photography reflector/diffuser kit in a handy carrying case is perfect for travel photography and for photographers on the go!
- Gold: warms up the picture
- Silver: brightens the picture
- White: bounces light into shadows
- Black: blocks out unwanted light
A diffuser makes harsh light softer. Without a diffuser bright sunlight is noticeably harder. A reflector can banish ugly shadows by making the light more even. It brightens up shadows on the face. A reflector is also great for utilizing and directing light in a dark indoor space when you can’t use a flash. Collapsible reflectors and diffusers are small and light. They fit easily into a backpack and are perfect for travel photography. During your trip be sure to take advantage of cloudy days. Although the light is duller during these times, your travel photography can be more versatile as you won’t have to deal with harsh shadows.
Travel Photography: Outdoor Portraits
For gorgeous outdoor travel portraits take advantage of open shade areas for studio-like lighting. As a general rule, take travel photos with the sun behind you. For clean, beautiful travel shots of your subject, shoot in front of uncluttered backgrounds. Pay special attention to framing the photo. For travel photography shots that will be used for blogs, take the photo with your subject a bit off center to leave some white space in the frame, like open sky, so there’s room to insert some wording.
Travel Photography: Be Creative
For great travel photography always be on the lookout for unique objects and angles. Be creative! Take shots that are not overused and recycled on your average postcard. Or put a new spin on an iconic image by photographing it from a different perspective. On our upcoming trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico we’re packing a high-tech drone to capture unique images of beaches, historical landmarks, and vibrant shots of the city center.
Do you know a few awesome tips for travel photography? Let’s learn from one another! Share your travel photography tips in the comment section below. Save this valuable resource for later >>PIN IT TO PINTEREST!
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17 thoughts on “Travel Photography Tips for Stunning Vacation Photos”
This is a nice photograph of the city looking very beautiful.
Money saving tips are very helpful for each and every person. I think it is good for to save and spend this money on a tour with your family.
Thanks for the info on Improving your travel photography skills.
Images are great.
WHAT AN AWESOME TIPS! THIS IS GREAT FOR A BACKPACK TRAVELER LIKE ME! THANK YOU FOR SHARING.
Such great tips! I will be using them when we travel to Alaska!
Thanks for these amazing tips….I have a fashion and travel blog so need to step it up with the photography.thanks for sharing!
Great tips thanks for sharing.
Great tips! We travel a lot and I’m still trying to learn photography so these will be super helpful!
Thanks for the great tips. I recent came back from London and I did not capture the photos that I had imagined. In November I will be on another trip and will follow your advice.
I love this! The suggestion on reflector/diffuser is genius. I’ll have to get those for my Hubs – the photo bug. Thanks
I love how you explained the diffusers so simply! I bought some but never use them because I am unsure on which to use which one. Do you really take one with you on all your trips though?
I’m headed out for a vacation tomorrow… Can’t wait to share some amazing photos. Thank you for the tips – now if only I had a travel diffuser for those mid-day beach photos!
Just got back from Portugal. Got some great photos on our iPhone, and I love the additional ideas you provided. Would have made the photos even better. I also love the Snapseed App, Rookie App and PS app for manipulating right in the moment
Thanks for the tips! Sometimes it is definitely easier with a digital point and shoot – no lugging around the big camera and I still get some great photos!
Awesome- thanks for sharing!
I wish I would have read this a few days ago. I’m at the airport about to go on vacation. My husband has a great camera and I wish I would have brought it with me. In the meantime thanks for sharing the best times for taking outdoor pictures. I will keep those times in mind!