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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…

 

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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.
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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?

 

98 Comments

  1. I like these tips and will try to use them on my next trip which starts Saturday!
    Debbie Beardsley recently posted..The 6 EST’s of EuropeMy Profile

  2. Kris Koeller
    Twitter:
    August 15, 2011 Reply

    A great collection of postcards. The Golden Temple in Kyoto is one of my all-time favorites.
    Kris Koeller recently posted..Photo of the Day: Glacier National ParkMy Profile

  3. @vincentdemers August 15, 2011 Reply

    {Tips} If nothing else, take these 3 photographs on your travels http://t.co/jSx0ewD

  4. Great tips! I always end up taking hundreds of useless photos that I have to sift through at the end of every trip. This will give me some direction!
    Annette recently posted..Scaling the 463 Stairs of the Duomo | FlorenceMy Profile

  5. @OrdinaryTravelr August 15, 2011 Reply

    Great tips! RT @Idelish {Tips} If nothing else, take these 3 photographs on your travels http://t.co/yZSMaw5

  6. Gorgeous photos! I love all of them. Great tips too.
    Christy recently posted..Elephants Were Put On This Earth To Entertain UsMy Profile

  7. Renee
    Twitter:
    August 15, 2011 Reply

    Exquisite tips, guys! I am trying to become a better photog too and I refuse to pay an arm and a leg for classes. This was very insightful, I have seen a few people kneel & crawl to get that perfect shot….if your pics are any proof…it’s well worth it!
    Renee recently posted..Be your own heroMy Profile

  8. @christinahegele August 15, 2011 Reply

    {Tips} If nothing else, take these 3 photographs on your travels http://t.co/tD9KHGy

  9. These are good tips! I love your photos. I like taking photos from a different perspective, but find it hard to do the storytelling photos. They never seem to come out right.
    Christina (Jandal Road) recently posted..Ben & Jerry’s factory tour in Waterbury, VermontMy Profile

  10. Great photography advice. And I love that shot of you “in action.” I tend to do stuff like that too, and people think I’m crazy :-)
    Stephanie – The Travel Chica recently posted..The Cruella Conclusion: Lawyers, Lies, and TaxesMy Profile

  11. @Divermaiden August 15, 2011 Reply

    Great tips! RT @idelish {#Tips} If nothing else, take these 3 photographs on your travels http://t.co/3x4gRnK

  12. @elGentscho August 15, 2011 Reply

    Wenigstens drei http://t.co/3wGlFfB

  13. @janross53 August 15, 2011 Reply

    Great ideas for photos! {Tips} If nothing else, take these 3 photographs on your travels & Idelish http://t.co/9vHEvwl

  14. Jan Ross
    Twitter:
    August 15, 2011 Reply

    Great tips! I’m forwarding this to my husband – the photographer in our family – and Stumbling and Tweeting it. I think it will be really helpful to others.
    Jan Ross recently posted..Muir Woods – A Wilderness Right Outside San FranciscoMy Profile

  15. Benjamin Lim August 14, 2011 Reply

    awesome write up..i love how you manage to get very little people at the taj mahal…that place is jam packed with people all the time.

    • Author

      Thanks Benjamin! We were rather lucky! Our advice would be to get there at 6am in the morning and be patient to wait for the “clearing”. People seem to arrive in droves, so if you wait just long enough, you’d find a little “clearing” in the flow of tourists. Also, walk off to the sides where there are less people in the way of your shot!
      Idelish (Jeremy & Shirlene) recently posted..{Japan} Our Ryokan Experience at Noboribetsu, HokkaidoMy Profile

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