Photography 101 — Travel
Four tips for taking great travel pictures
By John O’Connell
Whether you’re traveling to Tanzania or Tel Aviv, Barbados or Beijing, Morocco or Manhattan, you’ll want to bring home images of your experiences, perhaps to print and frame for your walls or even just to post to your wall on Facebook.
Folks have been making images of what they’ve seen on trips since they were called pilgrimages or far-flung wars, at first by drawing and painting, then on large photo-sensitive plates, then film and now on SD cards.
Here are four tips on how to capture the essence and excitement of your travels.
1. The Tourist Sites, But Differently.
Of course you’ll want to take the post-card shots. You’re not going to Paris and not bring back the Eifel Tower, right? You aren’t going to return from Rome without a picture of your spouse with a gladiator outside the Coliseum.
Your trip won’t be complete without these pictures so, by all means, shoot away. But try to make good photographs while you’re capturing the must-haves. Try shooting up from a very low angle; taking pictures at sunrise or sunset so there’s a different “look” to the tourist attraction. Include tourists having fun in the pictures instead of just the structure. Use an extreme wide-angle lens for a different perspective. Use a foreground object to make the photo more interesting.
2. Try shooting in Black & White
There’s no rule of photography that demands all photos must be in color. When the essence of a scene or subject is more about shapes and angles than colors, switch to greyscale or B&W inside the camera, or in your processing software post capture.
While you’re on your trip or even before you leave, think a little about how you can use your photographs when you come home. Imagine what you’d like on that wall as you go up the stairs, or that blank space in your office. Then while you’re traveling, shoot to fill the need you’ve identified. An engineer may want five square, B&W images of various parts of the Eifel Tower; a trip to Ireland can be remembered via a group of pictures of the B&Bs you stayed in; a vacation in China may yield pictures of some of the plates of food you had.
4. Don’t shoot tiny people
Don’t pose your traveling companions in front of Philadelphia’s Independence Hall and back up until you have the whole building in the picture. Your people will be unrecognizable. Stand them in front of the doorway or the Liberty Bell down the street and get close to them. Take the post-card shot of the building if you must, but make sure your folks are easily identified in the pictures.
4. Picture your own [New York]
Substitute New York for any famous place you’re traveling to. After you capture the expected, cliché images, make sure you bring home pictures of the parts of the location you’ll most want to remember. That romantic plaza in Barcelona, the exciting dance group in the square in Rio, the night you all had so much fun on the beach in Zanzibar, the big tree you set your tent next to in the Colorado Rockies — these special places and moments are the ones you will long want to recall; make sure you take pictures at those moments. And have strangers take your picture, too!