You see a group of tourists standing in front of Mount Rushmore, they are all just clicking away with their camera, iPhones, iPads, (yes, that's right an iPad, there's always one)! But, taking a photograph is a lot harder than simply clicking away on your camera till your heart's content. It's about a whole load of different factors from understanding your subject, whether that be a place or a person, it's about using light and shadow to your advantage and knowing how to use those manual settings (if you have them). As the great landscape photographer, Ansel Adam once said...
"You don't take a photograph, you make it"
To help you on your path to becoming an awesome travel photographer we have some basic tips to help you get started, so you have more time to spend enjoying the moment rather than trying to figure out how to work your camera settings.
Preparation & Research
Whether it's a dream trip to the states or a weekend away in the UK, you need to do your research; that way you can work out where you need to be when you get there and the best way of finding your way around. There might be events/festivals happening, that you really won't want to miss out on. You've gone all that way to ultimately see a new place and gain new experiences, so the last thing you want to be doing is spending all your time fiddling with your camera. If you're camera has manual settings, make sure you know how to use them before your trip. The great things about photography is that it helps to capture those brief moments in time and if you miss that moment, especially when photographing people, you are going to wish you had prepared yourself beforehand. Once you understand the technical stuff, you can focus on the creative stuff, which, let's be honest, is heaps more fun.
Immerse yourself in the culture and get off the beaten track
If you're travelling to a foreign place, why not swap your Lonely Planet guidebook for a phrase book, that way you can immerse yourself in the culture and the locals will appreciate it. In some countries it is best practice to ask permission to take photographs, especially of people and their belongings, knowing the culture and the language, will really help in these situations.
Getting off the beaten track and away from the tourist hotspots, is where you will really get to the heart of the country you are travelling through. As a photographer, you want to capture the iconic, the picturesque and the unusual, so don't be afraid to get lost down that side street or wander in the opposite direction to everyone else.
Lighting is one of the most important things to consider when you're wanting to improve your travel photography skills. The human eye is a hundred times more intelligent than the camera in your hand, so don't always assume that whatever you see in front of you is going to look as beautiful through your camera lens. The best times to photograph are just after sunrise (there will also be less people around too) and a few hours before the sun sets. The way you use lighting in your photographs will have a huge impact on the way your photograph feels, so having a greater understanding and awareness of lighting is extremely important.
Framing and composition
Framing and composition can help make you photographs look more dynamic and interesting. The world is an incredible place and more often than not the natural beauty of trees, canyons and mountains alike will help frame your photographs for you. Decide what you want to be the main subject of the photo and place the framing objects around the edges of the photo, this will isolate the subject and draw your audience's eyes to what you want them to see, clever ay?
One thing that all photographers must understand is the 'Rule of Thirds', this is by no means something that you have stick to, after all rules are meant to be broken, right? But, it's good to know as a budding travel photographer. The rule of thirds is very versatile and can be used on any subject and it will teach you that putting your subject smack bang in the middle of your frame is never a good idea, it can be boring and can make your photograph look awkward. Instead divide your image up using two horizontal lines and two vertical lines. You can then position your subject along these lines or where the two points meet. It will be hard to start with, but it will soon become second nature to you. After all the composition of your photograph is your way of telling a story, so make sure it's a good one!
This doesn't just apply to travel photography, but to photography in general – those photos aren't going to take themselves. Move closer to the object that you are taking a photo of; rather than a generic photo of a cathedral, move closer and photograph the unique and intricate detail of the architecture. If it's a person you're taking a photograph of, don't be afraid to ask them if you can photograph them close up, it will make your image more unique and interesting. If the lighting isn't working out for you, maybe try moving around the subject till you get the better shot. If you're camera has a zoom, use it! Zoom in and out on the subject, your eye will instantly know when it sees that perfect photograph.
Photography is a key part of anyone's travels, it will give you a set of memories that will stand the test of time and make your online friends extremely jealous. The best thing to remember when out photographing your travels, is to have fun. And remember that becoming the next best travel photographer won't happen overnight, in fact Henri Cartier-Bresson, who is one of the world's best photographers, once said "Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst". He doesn't mean this literally - Bresson simply tells you that photography is hard work, and that you have to stick with it and your hard work will pay off in the end!
If you guys have any more useful tips on how to get the best out of your camera and create beautiful travelling memories, then let us know below!