A travel photographer seeks out not only the well-known destinations that they know will automatically draw viewers, but also non-iconic locations, unseen, hidden jewels that have not yet been discovered. If it’s less popular photo destinations you seek, you’ll need to effectively prepare for not knowing exactly what you’re getting into from scouting the location as much as you can to proper gear. Here are some travel photography tips to get started:
Plan like crazy, but leave room for the unknown
Scour your location with Google Google Earth, PhotoPills and my Garmin GPS to get a really solid understanding of where you’ll be working and see if there is potential in an area and if it photographs well. To be prepared, you’ll want to know the best conditions to shoot in a specific location. Browse Pinterest and travel sites for inspiration, and don’t forget to leave room for spontaneity as you may stumble across a beautiful site or hear something from a local. You can also hop on to photography tours so you’re with other photographers and a guide who can provide travel tips.
Make sure you have proper gear
Bring gear that you’re familiar with so you’re not stuck trying to figure out settings while a glorious landscape is blossoming in front of you. You also don’t want to bring anything extra as you could be moving around a bit. The necessities? Bring a wide-angle lens, a telephoto lens, a tripod, and extra batteries and memory cards. A polarizing filter can also be helpful for harsh sun.
Follow the light
Check to see what time sunrise and sunset are to capture your landscape at the magic hour. Make sure to check the most ideal location for capturing the light as well as weather conditions. If you’re working in high temperatures, you might opt for a shadier spot as opposed to a popular site with no sun coverage. And, if you find yourself with grey skies, don’t fret. This just means you can shoot for longer and at midday without harsh shadows for perhaps even more interesting travel images.
Try for nontraditional points of view rather than the easy shot and get a more visually compelling set of photos. There are a number of ways to get creative with your composition. See our top picks for photo techniques here. (link to techniques article).
A narrow aperture can produce more dramatic landscape shots. Shoot between f/8 and f/14 to capture all the details and create a large depth of field. The key is to shoot as much as you can so you have a diverse array of images to choose from later while editing. Try different angles, different lighting, and different vantage points for more unique travel photos.