Monday, July 11, 2016

How To Take Great Travel Pictures

Over the last year, I have learned a lot about how to take beautiful pictures while traveling. Of course, I'm certainly far from an expert - however, I have picked up a few tips and tricks to take better travel pictures. A lot of this has come from trial and error, but if you want to take stunning travel pictures these tips are sure to help you!

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1. Look for inspiration on social media sites such as Instagram! Personally, I love Instagram, and am always scrolling through both my feed and interesting profiles. Whenever I see a picture that seems unique and I enjoy, first I take a screenshot of that photo for future inspiration. After that, I also tend to go and scroll through that individual person's feed to further look for great photo ideas. Some of my best shots have come from looking at other people's travel pictures and later modifying them to fit myself!

taking better pictures while traveling
This picture was clearly meant to capture the business and popularity of the beach
2. Before visiting a destination, plan! Spend some time looking at exactly where you might want to take photos and the best times to do so. For example, some places may simply have terrible light at a specific time of day. Plan ahead when and where you will be visiting a place in order to give yourself the best lighting - and the best shot - of a location! Beyond the lighting, another thing to consider is other tourists and the image you want to portray. For example, I've seen beautiful pictures of beaches that are heavily populated with tourists and it appears that there is not a single inch of space that hasn't been claimed. These pictures portray the busyness and popularity of a beach. Conversely, there are also pictures of beaches in which there is not a soul on the entire stretch of the beach and gives off a serene feel. Pick what you want your picture to say and go for that!

3. Take lots, and LOTS, of pictures. Along with the previous sentiment, it is better to have one too many pictures than wish you had taken an extra photo. Most cameras and memory cards now seem to have nearly unlimited memory - so just snap away and give yourself tons of options!

My red cardigan contrasts very nicely and adds a nice pop of color to this picture
4. When possible, consider your outfit and how it can improve upon or benefit a photo. Does adding a pop of color add to the photograph or take away? Is the focus of the picture on yourself, or on the landscape? For example, in the above picture I specifically chose to wear my red cardigan with a tribal pattern because it would match well with the feel of the picture I was going for. In the below picture, I purchased the hat with the Norway flag in order to help communicate exactly where I was. Your choice of clothing can certainly contribute to a better (and hopefully not worse!) picture!

The Norwegian flag on my hat was planned!
great travel photos
Find a natural frame, such as the cactus, to lend focus to your pictures
5. Pay attention to your surroundings. This can help you to determine how your surroundings can fit into the picture and help you to take a better photo of your attraction. Is there a natural 'frame' you can use to draw the viewers attention to exactly what you want? Can you tilt your camera up or down in order to capture a more interesting view? In the above picture, I loved the look of the cliff and the ocean. However, that is a view that has been captured thousands - if not millions - of times around the world. By adding a natural frame of the cactus, I was able to make this picture even more special and interesting.

The Rule of Thirds in action
6. Use the rule of thirds. This is one of the most basic photography rules, and it is for a reason. Divide your frame both vertically and horizontally into thirds, and try place your subject along one of those lines. In this picture, you can see that the focus of the subject is myself, with a secondary focus of the pool, beach, and palm trees behind me. If you were to place a grid of thirds across the picture, my body is on the leftmost vertical third line, and then the divider between the pools and the back edge of the pools and chairs are the horizontal third lines.

I over edited this picture, which detracts from its natural beauty
7. Don't over edit your photos. I've been guilty of this in the past, and even have been tempted to delete many of my previous pictures shared on this blog and various social media sites. For example, see the above photo. This is a shot I captured while on a fjord tour in Norway, but by overediting the picture and adjusting the brightness too much, I lose a lot of detail in the clouds.With a basic understanding of quality photography, a person would be turned off simply because the clouds are TOO white and over processed. In my opinion, less is often more!

Using leading lines can help contribute to a better picture
8. Use leading lines to draw the viewer's attention. In the above picture, a viewer will naturally place themselves in the picture. Their attention is drawn to the lines of the boardwalk and where the boardwalk leads. This is an excellent tool to help suck a viewer in!

A calm, serene day on a private beach
A much less calm day
A picture I've taken recently that really demonstrates most of these points is seen above. I first saw a similar picture on Instagram, and showed it to Nick saying "Hey, I really liked this and want to take a similar one when we go to Miami next week!". I carefully selected ahead of time my outfit - this specific suit was perfect to have nice detail in the photo. Obviously, I knew exactly where the beach was but I wanted to find a less populated space so we strolled up and down the beach for a bit. When it was go time, Nick snapped about 20 different shots. Ultimately, as I was looking and deciding the feel I wanted, I went for the calm and serene look (no waves) versus a more turbulent feel with waves crashing at my feet. This simple decision totally changes the feel of the picture! I am in an identical pose, with the same clothing, looking in the same direction - but the one second difference between the waves just crashing down and the ocean receding changes the feel of the picture.

As you can see with all of the above pictures and tips, there are many ways you can set yourself up for success to take great pictures while traveling. Planning ahead, down to your outfit and the location, as well as basic photography rules such as the rule of third can contribute to more stunning pictures. So, are there any essential tips that I missed?!

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