I've started to look at my travel photos and, actually, photos in general as pieces of art. I really strive to create a picture that I will be excited to look at in the future and think "wow, that's pretty". I've tried to come up with the main things I do to take the best travel photos. The main thing I focus on is research before going anywhere, followed by patience and timing, new angles, clothing options and color. I hope this post helps you create and take better photos to preserve your travels and memories!
First off, if you are using your phone, wipe off your lens. It most definitely is dirty and your pictures won't be as crisp! If you have an actual camera, try to use that as much as possible. I know they are big and more of a hassle to carry around, but really you'll thank me later. Although, I purposely bought a DSLR that is a manageable size, not to heavy and fits in a medium size purse. Because let's face it those Nikon and Canons can get very heavy. I just started to carry mine around most places and am loving all of the great quality pictures I have.
Research for me is key when it comes to travel photography. I've been told that a good photographer knows where they want to shoot and has planned out an idea of what they want to shoot before going there. I usually use my favorite search tools Google, Pinterest and Instagram. First, I look at points of interest of that location on Google. I love using Google to view the points of interest because it shows pictures of the locations instead of just listing them out. Pinterest is great because you get more eyewitness testimonies. Recently, I've started using Instagram to search for cool images. After I figure out my itinerary and where I'm staying, I search each of those as locations and hashtags. Sometimes there are multiple hashtags that you can search through. For example, Chicago has #chicago, #chitown and even #windycity, among others. There are a lot of not great images but if you have the time to sort through them, you'd be surprised the great inspiration you can find on where the best views are, the best angles and other great ideas. The photo below was inspired by a photo I found on Instagram by someone who had previously stayed at the same hotel.
PATIENCE + TIMING
A lot of great images are a result of great timing, patience and possibly some waiting around. In Chicago, for example, we went to the Bean before 8am when it was just starting to snow. There weren't really any people around, but we did have to wait for a few others to get their pictures and clear out to get the amazing shots below. My friends and family all asked me how on Earth I got pictures with the Bean with no one around. Well, there you go! Early morning, especially golden hour, is a prime time of shooting pictures.
TRY NEW ANGLES
Trying out new angles can really open up how you view something. One thing I know we all forget to do is look up. Looking up can give you a whole new perspective. Even if you've done extensive research on what photos you would like to take, don't forget to try out different angles. Try some from below, some from above and from the side, you never know how the photos will turn out.
I know, it sounds a bit silly and maybe a little obsessive but if you're truly wanting more memorable pictures it helps to think about these things. Play around with outfit ideas in your head. If you want something more whimsical and dreamy think of wearing a flowy dress and playing with the wind in it. Wearing a leather moto jacket versus a sundress give off two completely different vibes.
PLAY AROUND WITH COLOR
I love playing around with the color of a photo. I often forget about this since I'm a sucker for vibrant lifelike photos. You'd be surprised how changing the photo to black and white or maybe a sepia color can give the photo a whole new feel. The photo below is slightly adjusted with color from the black and white photo at the top of this post. I can't decide which photo I like better!
One thing I've struggled with is that sometimes my lens might not capture the whole view or object because I don't have a wide angle lens. I figured out an easy fix. Use the panorama feature on your camera. Sounds really obvious but you might not think to use it if you're not thinking about panoramas. Not all panorama photos need to be long and thin. The above photo was taken by using the panorama feature.
The last thing I would suggest about getting better travel photos is to shoot as many photos as possible. Keep in mind quality over quantity but sometimes you'll be thankful when you get home that you got those few extra shots, maybe even from different angles. If you are using your iPhone, try using the burst mode. To use burst mode, just hold down the shutter button and it will rapidly shoot photos. This is especially helpful in cases of jumping photos or a more active subject. It will take like 20 photos in a matter of seconds versus just one photo.
Hope you've gotten some good pointers. Now just go shoot!
Yours Truly // Shannon