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:
- Postcard Shot
- Different Perspective Shot
- Storytelling 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”:
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:
- Get Lower – Kneel, get on your knees, get on your stomach, angle your camera upwards, take a flight of stairs down etc…
- 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…
- 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.
- Black & White – When you see a lot of architecture details and interesting textures, consider taking a black & white photo.
- Framing – See your shot through a different “frame”. You can frame your shots using branches, holes in the wall, window frames etc…
- Zoom in – Zoom in or take a step forward. See your subject in more detail.
- Illusions – Play with illusions. You know, those pictures where people seem to be pushing on the Leaning Tower of Pisa?
- Go Elsewhere – Find a different location away from where all the tourists are.
The things we do for a good photo…
Here are examples of “different perspective” shots we’ve taken on our travels:
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”:
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…
- 3 basic shots to take when traveling: “Postcard shot”, “Different Perspective shot” and “Storytelling shot”
- 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.
- Take “different perspective shots” by changing your position. Take a few steps forward than you normally would, get lower, get higher etc…
- 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.
- PHOTOGRAPHY TIP: To further edit your photos, you can consider using Lightroom and for HDR effects, use Photomatix.
- 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?