You’re on a trip, and there it is before your eyes: the most beautiful, unique, interesting or amazing thing you’ve ever seen. You just want to capture the image so you can show your friends and family back home or relive the moment over again. But click after click, you just can’t get the picture to do the scene real justice. Taking beautiful travel photographs can be difficult, but by following these tips, you can improve your odds of getting the perfect shot.
Invest in a quality camera
Whether you prefer film or digital, point and shoot or SLR (single lens reflex), you don’t have to spend a fortune to get a quality camera that won’t let you down. Talk to the staff at your local camera or electronics store to find the best camera for you – one that fits your needs and your budget. Be sure to buy any accessories you’ll need such as zoom lenses, carrying cases, adapters for chargers, or extra batteries.
Practice makes perfect
Study your camera’s instruction manual. Many cameras come with instructional DVDs as well, and some camera retailers even offer free classes to customers. Play around with the settings on your camera to see how they affect each shot. The more you know about the different settings, the more options you have for controls like shutter speed (controls how fast the picture is taken), white balance (controls brightness) and aperture (controls how much light the lens lets in).
Shoot from a variety of angles
You never know which angle will provide the perfect shot, so capture your subject from a variety of angles and vantage points, from far away to up close, outside or in, in the background or front and center, and all alone or in the context of its setting. This will also keep the whole collection fresh and interesting.
Take pictures of both people and things
You in front of the Eiffel Tower. You in front of the Acropolis. You in front of the Berlin Wall. Seeing a pattern here? Of course, it’s nice to have lots of photos of yourself in front of places you’ve visited, but be sure to also take photos of just the location or monument from your viewpoint as well. It’ll break up the monotony while still serving as a potent reminder of your travels.
Capture action and details
Capture the action of a location, not just its still-life. Rather than only snapping shots of a market, get some photos of the sellers in action too. And in addition to a few shots of the people bustling around the stalls, get close up on some of the details. Varying these conditions can help bring a setting to life and make your photos more exciting.
Learn to photograph people
A certain amount of finesse is required for getting great photos of strangers. You want to capture the perfect shot, but don’t want to be intrusive. Unless you are shooting from far away, always ask the subject’s permission (for kids, ask the parents). Many people will jump at the chance to be photographed while others will become quite shy once the camera is pointed at them. Put your subject at ease before you start shooting, or engage them in conversation while another person takes the photos.
Play with scale
Depending on where you place one item in relation to other, you can create different effects with scale. Those silly photos where it looks like someone is about to push over the Leaning Tower of Pisa, for example, are just tricks of scale. In addition to creating effects, scale can convey a sense of the size of a place. To show just how large a rock is, have a person standing nearby. This helps the viewer better see its size.
Take candid shots
Some of a trip’s most memorable moments happen spontaneously. Be sure to take some candid shots in addition to all the posed portraits. A shot of your group laughing uproariously at a joke may invoke a much stronger memory of a particular place than any posed scenery shot ever could.
Know when to put the camera down
Sometimes you just aren’t going to be able to get the perfect shot, no matter how hard you try. Don’t let your obsession with photographing the moment get in the way of actually experiencing it.
Learn the tricks of photo editing
Often a shot that doesn’t quite work can be made drastically better through photo editing. With online programs, you can easily adjust the sharpness of a blurry photo, brighten up a dark one, increase the color saturation of a dull shot and crop photos or add special effects.
With a little technical knowledge, a lot of practice, and bit of creativity, you can learn to take beautiful travel photos sure to capture your memories and help you relive them time and time again.