5 Top Tips for Travel Photography for Beginners

Welcome to the first Wanders Miles Travel Photography Series with my first guest blogger, Lindsey O, a Photographer, an avid Traveller, and a business coach for Creatives. She has 5 handy tips for capturing the moments from your trip and don’t forget to download her FREE gifts at the end of this blog. If you are looking for a simple guide to travel photography for beginners, look no further!

Travel Photography tips for beginners: Image of 2 photos of a lake and a trekker

Top Tips On Travel Photography For Beginners

Who doesn’t love to travel? Time away from everyday life exploring new cultures and trying new activities inspires our creativity.  It’s all about getting out of your comfort zone to help you think differently. When we think differently, that’s when our imagination starts to run away with us. If you have the travel bug and want help snapping the perfect shot or simply want to share your images, I’d love to have you over at my Facebook group, The Creative Wanderers.

1) Shoot With Intent

My favorite type of travel photo is looking for colors that I love (teals and pinks) and people in their element.

When I see teal waters contrasted with a cliffside or boats, or anything else to give it some substance, I jump all over that. To me, that’s the kind of image that I would be happy hanging in my home afterward as I appreciate their aesthetic.

Try to think of the photos you would want to see hanging in your home.  What do they all have in common? What do you like about them? Learn this about yourself and shoot more of what you like next time you travel.

2) Capturing Locals

I also try to capture people in their environments; enjoying their life, doing their work, or showing off their talents. It is important to be respectful. If there is a language barrier, pointing at your camera and smiling will often get you a “yes” or “no” if they are okay with you taking their photo. If they are, chances are that you will get a big smile out of them as well, such as the example below of a man I met in Peru wearing a traditional dress giving an authentic and emotional feel.

If you speak the same language, ask if they would like you to send them the photos later via email or WhatsApp.  And follow through with it!

Capturing locals. Image of peruvian man in the mountains
Capturing locals © Taylor Rae Photography

3) Timing

If you want that soft even light in landscape photos that brings out the deepest colors, shooting when the sun is bright is not optimal. The intense sun can drown out colors and can make pieces of your image over and underexpose.

For example, if you’re up in the mountains, a large black shadow from one mountain may be covering half of your scene, causing it to look almost black, while the rest of your photo is too bright. In the example below, the left-hand side is black from the shadows so I had to darken up the entire rest of the image to make sure that the colors of the rocks stood out on the right-hand side rather than looking almost white.

So, when is the best time to shoot?  If it’s overcast, you’re good to go most of the day!  When the sky is overcast, it acts like a big lightbox and provides nice lighting on everything. If it’s a sunny day, shoot when the sun is low in the sky, this would be the first hour or so after sunrise and before sunset.

I usually scout out my favorite locations and try to return to those places or stick around until sunset.

Photography tips: Image of woman trekker sat looking out to rocky mountains
Trekker sat looking out to rocky mountains

4) Composition & Rule Of Thirds

If you are taking photos of locals, or your friends having an adventure such as hiking or mountain biking, The Rule of Thirds is a powerful technique to keep in mind when composing your image. This is a standard technique to keep in mind for travel photography for beginners. 

In the Rule of Thirds, you should place your subject, or points of interest in your photo, near one of the points, circled in the diagram. It shows the photo space broken into thirds and circles the points where these thirds intersect.  Rather than having your subject directly in the middle of your image, try to think about positioning off-center.

Rule of Thirds: Portraits

When shooting people, I usually always try to line up my subjects’ eyes with the top third.  The photo of the couple on the beach demonstrates this well.

Other times, I like to position with a focus on the top third. In the image with the couple in the boat, I wanted to showcase the rockery and trees above them, so I positioned them in the bottom third.

In both of these cases, if I had the couples directly in the middle of the image they probably would not be so appealing.  However, there are plenty of times when I felt it looked more impressive to have my subject(s) directly in the middle of the image, and completely disregarded the rule of thirds.

Rule Of Thirds: Landscape

The same can be applied to landscape photos.  Notice here how I split the image into thirds. The blue water takes up the bottom ⅔ of the image, and the mountains are positioned at the top ⅓.

Rule of Thirds: Landscape. Turquoise lake and mountains.
Rule of Thirds: Landscape © Lo Photo, LLC

5) Taking Photos On Your Phone

If you don’t have a DSLR, you can still apply the tips we’ve talked through today!

My favorite tool to edit images with on my iPhone is Camera+, I pay for the pro mode so I can adjust the clarity up only a small amount.  This really makes landscape images come to life. Just be careful not to get carried away and turn clarity up too high to where your images look unnatural.

I’m a big fan of the “Sharpen” and “Lux” editing tools on Instagram.  I don’t use Instagram filters that change the colors of my images, but I will usually always turn up Sharpen and Lux slightly for my travel photos. 

Finally, Some Gifts For You

I hope you enjoyed my tips and tricks for taking travel photos!  Here are a few free tools and a special discount to help you with your journey:

Go check out my Freebies to grab your social media guide, aimed at making your Instagram more cohesive as well as an infographic to help get sharper images on your DSLR.

I’m handing out 50% off my Taking Better Photos guide to all you readers today, use coupon code TAKE50 at checkout. This e-book includes 6 years of learning through owning my own photography business and is made for beginners. I will teach you how to choose the camera gear that’s right for you, what all those numbers mean, how to shoot in manual mode or select the appropriate settings, and how to edit your photos.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission if you click a link and purchase something that I’ve recommended. It comes at no cost to you. Thank you for your support.

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One Comment

  1. I love these tips! My all time favourite tip for taking photos is the rule of thirds! A photo just always turns out well by applying that!

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