Five tips for more inspired travel photography

Travel often has such a rejuvenating effect on the mind, and being away from our normal surroundings can force the mind to slow down enough to be truly immersed in, and therefore truly see, another place.

I’ve also found that travel can be a great remedy for getting out of a photography rut.

Perhaps it’s the stories you see in the faces of the locals, the unique architecture, or simply being in an unfamiliar place, which helps us to see things afresh, and therefore find inspiration.

The following tips may help you get the most out of your travel photography.

1) Be curious

Explore the local area by wandering around the streets/area with your camera but don’t feel disappointed if nothing interests you.  I’ve sometimes travelled to areas where I’ve not taken a single photo because I didn’t feel any inspiration.  Perhaps you just need to unwind until your curiosity is piqued.

2) Don’t be afraid of bad weather

Before, during and after a storm can be perfect times to capture dramatic lighting, though be careful not to go out during lightning.  Be sure to protect yourself and your equipment from the rain.

Incidentally, I took the above photo on a truly bracing day at Wellington, New Zealand and considered turning back multiple times – but I’m so glad that I didn’t!


3) Travel lightly

This always make photography a more enjoyable experience, rather than being weighed down with heavy equipment. For this reason I rarely travel with a tripod.  If you really feel you’ll need a tripod, take a small, lightweight tripod which is easy to carry.  Make sure you have extra charged batteries and memory cards.

4) Connect with the locals

You may discover interesting places that aren’t mentioned in the tourist brochures.  Connecting with the locals is also a great way to discover the best (non tourist) local places to eat out. Find a position where you can take candid photos of the local area.  If you want to take photos of people, if they’re unreconizable in the photo you don’t really need their permission, unless you think it would be polite to do so.

I’ve always found it a bit daunting, but try plucking up the courage to ask someone if you can take their portrait.  You can also offer to email them a photo on your return.  If you imagine you might want to use their photo for something like a competition or on a website, it an be a good idea to take some model release forms with you.

5) Don’t be like a tourist

This is a technique I use to challenge myself when travelling.  I imagine the kinds of photos I typically see  tourists taking, and  challenge myself to come up with something different.

One way of doing this, is to avoid immediately picking up your camera, or looking through the lens.  Instead, take a walk around and view things from a different viewpoints.  Try crouching down for a more dramatic low angle or standing on something for a higher point of view.

By taking the time to pre-visualize, you can avoid the common mistake of taking lots of photos without thought.  This may help you to take photos with more impact, whilst also using less space on your memory cards.

Travel photography seems to tap into that part of us that wants to explore the world, see it in a new and fresh way, and get insight into how other people live. If we’re lucky, we’ll return home with a renewed sense of enthusiasm and a couple of great photos to tell others about our experience.