Travel photography tends to be a lot easier, if you have an eye for space, vista and colours. That being said, I generally hate looking at other people’s travel photos, especially if they are not really travelers because the photos typically border on the mundane, boring and regurgitated shots that everyone else seems to take. I have a couple personal guidelines that I use when taking travel shots, that have prevented from always falling into the boring travel photo shot trap. I’m not perfect but since I do get a number of compliments on my eye for travel shots, I thought I would list my tips to avoid travel photo disasters
- Stay out of the picture
I can’t repeat this enough. You know what you look like … you see your tired ugly, mug everyday … your friends know what you look like, they know what your tired, ugly mug looks like – why spoil a lovely view point or great shot by injecting yourself into it? Travelers are cliche in their photography because they have an overwhelming urge to insert themselves into the landscape, perhaps to prove that they were really there, and they looked good…
Do you need to prove that you actually went to <insert location>, by standing in some god awful pose with your hands up or some forced smile at the aforemention location. People seem to like the shots I take, because I’m never in them.
My gut and pose ruined a perfectly good picture here
- If you are in the picture, please stand to the side
It’s not a portrait shot. If you are in the middle of an icefield in Greenland, your picture is a snapshot of the icefield not you with an icefield behind you. Standing to the side also gives your subject more of the frame and in some instances, the perspective of you on the side will actually enhance the picture.
- Taking pictures of other people taking pictures is always cool
It tells a story and frames the other person in the shot without making them the focal point of the shot.
- Contrast and colour is always great
Photos are meant as snapshots of time, location and memory. Taking snapshots of things that you can see everyday is never interesting, however taking a snapshot of an everyday travel scene infused with a specific time of day event or color is always a talking point
- When you’re in the shot, have a picture of something memorable.
This should be a no-brainer tip, but I’ve seen too many pictures of people just standing around when there is all this goodness and wonder around them. For instance, how many more tired pictures of Niagara Falls can I look at without thinking “Holy crap … couldn’t you at least make a funky pose or something?”
Of course, holding a sting ray, always makes a good picture!!
- Be original
Another no-brainer tip. Going to the Leaning Tower of Pisa and doing the same tired shots, using perspective to make it appear that you are holding the tower up is tired, boring, contrived and over done. Why have the same shots that everyone else has?
You then end up looking like these morons…
- Good food shots while traveling are always awesome.
Note the use of the word “Good”. Learning how to use light, angle and perspective in taking a good food shot is a skill that takes practice and time. Food shots are great because they elicit discussion, especially if someone has never eaten <insert cuisine> food from that country.
For instance, I took a picture of plate in Brazil at Casa de Feijoada and I remember getting about 20+ compliments from friends and other people on that particular shot because it made them go research the word “Feijoada” and “Casa de Feijoada”.
- You can only fix, what you measure; so compile a list of “Cheese” and try not to repeat it.I have a personal list of “cheese”, that I keep in mind when I am taking a shot. We’ve done it time and time again … I have been guilty on numerous times of a cliche pic – the difference is that I tend to bury my cheese among 1000’s of pictures.
Cheesy photo clichés: sunsets, beaches, famous road signs, the couple standing on the beach at sunset, villagers, famous sites, children in the village, people working the rice fields or some other field, cafes, people kissing on park benches, and water fountains.
Foreground: Me or someone else standing with their arms up, “OMG!” face with mouth wide open, sometimes jumping. It’s past cheesy, it’s like soft cheese. The Camembert/brie/feta of photos.