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{Tips} If nothing else, take these 3 photographs on your travels

When we first started taking photos on our travels, we didn’t have fancy cameras and were definitely not “professional travel photographers”. We did however aspire to take great photos without having to take professional photography courses and carry thousands of dollars worth of camera equipment with us. We identified a “shortcut” to get at least 3 great photos on our travels and we hope this can help you too!

At the very least, we figured we couldn’t go wrong by taking the following 3 photos at each of our travel destination:

  1. Postcard Shot
  2. Different Perspective Shot
  3. Storytelling Shot

 

Postcard Shot

Professional photographers have probably spent a ton of time taking the picture perfect postcard shot of a travel destination. They’ve already done the “groundwork” for you – identifying the best shot for a location. So, stop by a souvenir store, take a look at the postcards on the rack and pick a few that you like. You can do the same by browsing image results on search engines. Now, all you need to do is to take a similar photo as the one you saw on the postcard/online image search results.

For example, the following are our “postcard shots”:

“Postcard Shot” at Taj Mahal.

“Postcard shot” at Kyoto Nijo Castle in Kyoto. We saw this on a postcard and learnt of this “angle” at the castle that makes for a great photo.

“Postcard shot” at Kinkakuji in Kyoto. We saw a postcard with an image of this structure from a similar angle.

Different Perspective Shot

A good 2nd photo to take is one from a “different perspective”. To do this, challenge yourself to take a shot from a “different perspective”.  Consider:

  1. Get Lower – Kneel, get on your knees, get on your stomach, angle your camera upwards, take a flight of stairs down etc…
  2. Get Higher Up – Climb up to a higher location, stand on a ledge, angle your camera downwards, take a photo while on your plane ride etc…
  3. Turn Around – Don’t forget to turn around! Too often we take photos of what’s in front of us but forget to take a moment, turn around and look at the scenery that is behind us.
  4. Black & White – When you see a lot of architecture details and interesting textures, consider taking a black & white photo.
  5. Framing – See your shot through a different “frame”. You can frame your shots using branches, holes in the wall, window frames etc…
  6. Zoom in – Zoom in or take a step forward. See your subject in more detail.
  7. Illusions – Play with illusions. You know, those pictures where people seem to be pushing on the Leaning Tower of Pisa?
  8. Go Elsewhere – Find a different location away from where all the tourists are.

 

The things we do for a good photo…

This is Jeremy on his side, trying to take a “different perspective” shot!

Here are examples of “different perspective” shots we’ve taken on our travels:

“Different Perspective” shot at Taj Mahal. We walked off to the far right of the garden where there were no tourists and took this shot by standing between two large trees.

“Different Perspective” shot at Leh while visiting Shanti Stupa. We specifically looked for the view of the city of Leh when we were up high at Shanti Stupa. We did not just focus on taking pictures of Shanti Stupa but instead looked for photo opportunities of another location while up high. We then brought out the details of the picture using HDR processing.

Storytelling Shot

When you get home from your travels, what is the ONE picture you can show friends and family and tell a ‘story’ about? What is that one picture that you would be able to show and storytell a year or five years from now? That’s the “storytelling shot” you need to take. It doesn’t have to epitomize the ENTIRE trip or the entire travel destination. It just has to be the one shot that has a story associated with it.

Here are examples of our “storytelling shots”:

“Storytelling Shot” at Taj Mahal. We will never forget how the Carnelian gemstone glowed when we put our flashlight against it. This is the one shot we will continue to tell stories of every time someone asks us what’s a “must see” while at Taj Mahal!

“Storytelling Shot” at Kiyomizudera in Kyoto. To this day, we still talk about how delicious the tofu and the udon we had at Kiyomizudera was.

 

We hope you find these “3 basic shots” tip helpful! To further improve the photos you take, we highly recommend that you also learn some of the photography basics such as Rule of Thirds, adjusting aperture/exposure/ISO, lighting and photo editing etc…

 

REMEMBER:

  1. 3 basic shots to take when traveling: “Postcard shot”, “Different Perspective shot” and “Storytelling shot”
  2. Take “postcard shots” by browsing postcards at souvenir stores, browsing images of the location online and looking at any pictures about the location that you’ve seen before.
  3. Take “different perspective shots” by changing your position. Take a few steps forward than you normally would, get lower, get higher etc…
  4. Take “storytelling shots” by taking that one picture with which you will have a story to tell when you show it to your friends and family.
  5. PHOTOGRAPHY TIP: To further edit your photos, you can consider using Lightroom and for HDR effects, use Photomatix.
  6. PHOTOGRAPHY GEAR: On our travels, we use a Nikon D700 with a Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 prime lens and Nikkor 16-35mm f/4 Wide Angle lens. We also carry our Leica D-Lux 5 for those point and shoot moments. Other point & shoot cameras we recommend and like include the Panasonic Lumix LX-5 and the Canon S95.

 

Do you have tips on how to take great photos while on your travels? Are there any tried and true ways to get great shots that you’d like to share?

 

99 Comments

  1. Ele October 22, 2012 Reply

    Yes, I made a discovery two days ago that actually turning back with a camera is worthwhile. The result is sometimes very strange, even local people go “eehh…where IS that?” LOL
    Ele recently posted..Varšuva: kas liko už kadroMy Profile

  2. These pictures are really amazing. Taj Mahal is an extremely incredible place to visit, and got to say you pulled out some beautiful moments in India and Japan.

  3. Claire
    Twitter:
    April 14, 2012 Reply

    Wow, they’re all amazing photos but I especially love your postcard photo of the Taj Mahal! Such clean lines and and better than most commercial photos of the same sight that I’ve seen so far. Love this blog!
    Claire recently posted..Sightseeing in SupermarketsMy Profile

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