Enhance Your Travel Photography Skills With These Tips

It doesn’t matter what kind of camera you use on vacation. You can bring home amazing photographs to show off to family and friends when you use these tips.

Returning from a fun-filled vacation with stunning photographs is almost an expectation now that cameras are so readily available and fairly easy to use. But that doesn’t mean you can just haphazardly point and shoot to capture the radiant Northern Lights of Iceland, magnificent sunsets in Hawaii, awe-inspiring Great Wall of China, exotic cultures of Morocco or any other significant events or people you encounter during your enriching travel experiences.     

Whether you use a DSLR camera or the one on your cellphone, you’ll want to put some thought into angles, layers and framing to ensure you bring home the perfect picture that you can frame to show off to family and friends for years to come. Here are a few tips that can help you snap the most compelling images during your getaway.

Embrace the Rule of Thirds

Your camera or phone likely will have a setting to create a nine-box grid in the viewfinder. Turn that on to make it easier to apply the Rule of Thirds when framing your shot. The principle divides an image into thirds, vertically and horizontally. Intersecting points of the grid lines are where your eyes are naturally drawn when you first view an image. Placing your subject, whether it’s a person, building or landmark, at those points is a good compositional technique. You can put this principle to use with landscape photography in the foothills of the Rockies or evocative scenes of Umbria and Tuscany by placing the horizon on the lower third of the image rather than directly in the middle.

Think in Layers

There are three layers to any space: the foreground, middle ground, and background. Consider all three when composing your photo. If you’re taking a photo of Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, think about how you could place the attraction in the middle ground or background of the photo with the book stalls along the Seine in the foreground. These foreground or background items add depth, providing context and a sense of scale for your photo’s subject.

Draw Focus to the Main Attraction

Roads, hiking trails, rivers, vineyard rows, and fences are some of the features that can be used as leading lines when framing your shot. The idea is to use these naturally occurring lines to draw a viewer’s eye to the actual subject of your photo. If you’re photographing a windmill in Provence, you could use the rows of a lavender field to lead your viewer right up to the windmill, just like your driveway leads to your home.

Frame a Subject

Framing also uses naturally occurring features in your setting. This compositional technique draws attention to the subject of your image. Windows, tree branches, doorways, gates, flowers, and bridges can all be used as framing devices. These items should be in the foreground of your image and create a natural frame around the subject in the middle ground or background. While on a guided excursion through the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve in Costa Rica, you’ll cross six suspension bridges where you can try this technique while taking images of your travel companions heading into the tropical rainforest.

Learn About Local Etiquette

Every culture feels differently about privacy. Some people may not want you to take their photo without their permission. Research your destination and learn about the local culture and customs so you can prevent any potentially offensive situation or misunderstanding. Some places in Africa, for instance, will charge a photographer’s fee so you can shoot images freely within a designated area.

Think Outside the Box

Locations such as the Eiffel Tower and Leaning Tower of Pisa have been photographed millions of times. These sites are definitely photo-worthy but don’t settle for the same angle that you’ve seen before. Put your own spin and unique perspective on these destinations. Test different angles and lenses until you take a photo that excites your muse.