Any traveler documenting for personal or professional reasons his or her escapades falls under the category of ‘travel photographer’. At the end of the day, our perpetual strive for adventures, exciting destinations and different cultures combined with our wanting, need or even necessity to document these new encounters implies that we’re all truly travel photographers at heart.
When traveling, there’s so much to do, see, taste, smell and… capture! I tend to spend the majority of the time behind the lens as I’m constantly trying to capture everything, which, in reality, is an impossible task to accomplish.
These are some basic tips that have helped me to improve my travel photos and will hopefully help you as well:
- When it comes to traveling and more importantly careening around the globe, I’ve always found that less is more: The less items you’re carrying on your back, the more you enjoy your experience. Same rule applies for camera gear. If your daypack is a 10 kg full to the brim packed with 4-5 lenses that explode upon opening backpack, you definitely have a problem! Depending on where your travels take you, I always have at my disposal a prime 35mm lens and a standard 17-70mm. That way I can take close-up and landscape shots and if needed, I can zoom in a bit, without having to comprise on anything.
- To take good travel photos, you have to pace yourself and more importantly enjoy your journey. There’s no need to rush from point A to point B and C in panic in order to take photos of as many locations as you can fit within your timeframe. Sit back, take a breath and focus on a place or two that you want to visit rather than rushing through the whole experience.
- Sometimes, you simply cannot achieve that perfect composition, whether it be people in the way, moving cars or skyscrapers that don’t fit in the frame. This is when creativity your kicks in and have to use the environment to your advantage. Try and find a different angle to your shots by tilting your camera, holding it up or even placing it on the ground (for example when I was shooting the northern lights in Iceland, my mini travel tripod was constantly blowing up in the air therefore the only way of capturing them was to lie flat out on the freezing ground with my camera balancing on my backpack – it most probably looked extremely odd however I did get the shots I wanted).
- Experiment by taking photos of the same place at different times of the day; the whole character and atmosphere of your subjects or shot can be drastically modified if you play around with light and or shadows. You’d be surprised how different the outcome could potentially be.
- Don’t be afraid of taking photos of locals, their daily life and happenings. I must admit, I’m definitely not a people photographer and I rarely take any photos in my hometown let alone somewhere else. However, whilst traveling, I wanted to capture the essence of a culture or place I was visiting and this couldn’t be done without capturing people as well. I realized that as long as you’re respectful and have common sense, locals would gladly agree and even pose for your photos.
Donna Tzaneva is a twenty-something year old globetrotter that was born in Bulgaria, grew up in Australia and now resides in Iceland. After finishing her BSc in Equine Studies, a severe horse-back riding injury made her take a step back from that career and take up photography. She hasn’t stopped ever since.