Travel photography is one of the most beloved art forms as it enables viewers to travel far and wide without moving. Every place on the planet has its own look, culture, landscapes, and people, and it is a travel photographer’s job to capture these subjects in a manner that helps convey the story of that place to others.
If you are ready to improve your travel photography and capture images that transport viewers, read on to learn the essential photography secrets from a top travel photographer in Philadelphia.
1. Commit to lifelong learning.
One of the biggest misconceptions that budding photographers have about photography is that they are done learning once they have mastered the basics. This couldn’t be farther from the truth, especially when it comes to travel photography, as there is always more to learn when it comes to creating memorable photographs.
To be a successful travel photographer, you need to commit to lifelong learning and put in the time, resources, and experience required to ensure that photography is the main priority before, during, and after your travels.
If you are going to capture creative images consistently, you need to be prepared to shoot in a wide array of environments and diverse conditions. It is never as easy as simply taking out your camera and clicking the shutter; instead, the knowledge you have built up helps you take advantage of every opportunity.
2. Play around with subject focus and orientation.
When you first start taking travel photographs, there is a good chance that you always center the focus spot in the middle of the frame. However, if you want to take your travel photography to the next level, you want to avoid doing this; otherwise, every photo will look the same. Instead, start to play around with where you locate the subject focus within the shot and see how it helps you produce more dynamic images.
Similarly, get creative with the orientations you shoot in rather than always defaulting to one (usually horizontal). Take the time to experiment with shooting the same subject in both portrait or landscape to understand how the orientation you choose can transform the image.
In many cases, there is no right or wrong way to choose a direction; instead, it is based on your emotions and what you are trying to convey through the image. Adding geometrical variety will enhance the overall interest of your photo collection.
Composition should be the driving force behind your choice of subject focus and orientation, as it concerns how you are organizing the content of your photo. When considering composition for travel photographs, remember that you want the viewer to be intrigued by the image and captivated by the subject, so that they have an irresistible desire to roam in it.
3. Experiment with light.
Light is a travel photographer’s best friend, as long as you understand how to utilize it to your benefit and manipulate it when it isn’t ideal. Generally, to create compelling and exciting travel photographs, you want to take your photos during sunrise or sunset, as these times are suitable for producing striking images. This is especially important when photographing landscapes, but also affects how you capture any subject.
For this reason, travel photographers recognize how crucial it is to plan their travel schedule so that they are in the right place at the right time.
To experiment with light, make sure you move around your subject and see how it hits it from multiple angles. This is incredibly powerful when shooting a still subject, such as a building, monument, or nature aspect.
Similarly, you want to shoot your subject at different times of day as the natural light will hit it differently. For example, if you are doing travel photography in Philadelphia, P.A., at specific points, a building’s facade will be lit up superbly while, at other points, that same area will be in the shade.
4. Educate yourself on culture.
If you are going to take travel photographs that are more than just “holiday snapshots,” it is crucial that you educate yourself on the culture and traditions of the place you are shooting. The best travel photographers know how important it is to be culturally sensitive while photographing other people and places. The more you learn about a place before you visit, the more you will be able to understand and appreciate the cultural context.
In some locales, it may be disrespectful to photograph people or sacred areas, and you want to ensure that you are aware of any photography restrictions before you arrive.
Whenever you are photographing people, you must first get permission as a sign of respect. Even if you can’t communicate in the local language, you can utilize simple hand gestures and point to the camera. However, by learning a few local phrases, you are also demonstrating to subjects your interest in learning more about their culture and potentially providing them with an opportunity to share their story.
5. Invest in beneficial accessories.
While you don’t necessarily need fancy gear to be a successful travel photographer, several accessories may help you capture the perfect shot.
Generally, you always want to travel with a tripod as it will significantly help you achieve a perfect, sharp image. You can find tripods specifically designed for travel photographers that are lightweight, sturdy, and compact.
Additionally, you always want to pack a memory card case, extra batteries, a travel cable organizer, your hard drive for backup storage, and lift straps to help decrease the load of your gear on your back.
A waterproof case is highly recommended to ensure that your camera doesn’t get damaged in the rain, while a lens pen aids you in keeping your lenses clean – no matter where you have been or what you have been shooting.
Are you a budding travel photographer? What are some of the best tips and tricks that you have learned? What aspects of travel photography are you finding the most challenging? Let us know your thoughts and any additional insights in the comments below!
American artist Shea Winter Roggio is a documentary and fine art photographer. Shea Winter Photography LLC provides documentary, editorial and commercial photography services, along with video, television and film production services, and retails photographic souvenirs such as fine art prints, canvas and frames.