The Great Pyramids of Giza, the Taj Mahal in India, Machu Picchu in Peru. All of these places are instantly recognisable. You can almost picture them now, can’t you?
I’m going to say something quite controversial here. Travel photography is easy. There, I said it. And do you know what, I stand by it.
The thing about travel photography is you’re already in some of the most beautiful places around the world. In terms of subject matter, it’s there, it’s in front of you, it’s primed and prepped – you just need to capture it.
When you’re surrounded by beauty, half the time all you need to do is point and click. It doesn’t matter if you’ve got a smartphone, a bridge camera or a DSLR, you’ll still manage to take amazing photos – that’s the beauty of travel photography!
Saying that, if you really want to up your travel photography game then there are definitely a few tricks of the trade that can help you get that perfect shot. So, without further ado, here are my top 10 rules of travel photography; see where it’ll take you!
#1 Research a theme before you go
I always like to research photos from a country before I go. Often I quite like to find a colour or theme for a city or country, and then use that reoccurring throughout my photos. For example, I used the colour orange and spices to represent Istanbul, then I tried to keep elements of that reoccurring with all the other photos I took there.
#2 Be patient, don’t rush it
One of the beautiful things about travel photography is often you have a lot of time on your hands. If you have a particular shot in mind then just wait it out. You’ll probably never be in that position again so make sure you capture the moment that you want.
3# Shoot around magic hour
This is one of the oldest rules in the book but to get that gorgeous golden light then shoot around magic hour. This is usually the hour after sunrise and the hour before sunset. When I’m shooting in a place, I usually wake up super early, do some photography at 6am and then go back to bed. It’s always better to do that than shoot in the midday sun.
4# Don’t just shoot wide, get up close and personal too
With the open plains before you it’s very easy to focus on just shooting landscape photography ultra-wide. However, when you’ve got the chance get up close and personal too. Everyone knows what the Taj Mahal looks like, so get in close and take photos of the intricate designs that make up the marble tiles.
5# Find different perspectives at the world’s most famous sites
The thing about going to the world’s most famous sites is you’re doing it with hundreds of other people too. At the end of the day you can’t beat to crowds, so try to embrace them by taking photos that no one else is taking and by finding a different perspective.
#6 It doesn’t matter what the photo is, keep it
At the end of that day a photo is a memory. It is you taking a particular photo at a place and moment in time. Even if it didn’t come out exactly the way you had hoped, it is still your moment, it is still your memory. If you delete it, it is just gone forever. If you keep it, no matter how bad the photo is, it’ll still take you back to a time and place.
7# Make sure you ask for permission
A lot of people get scared to do portrait photography, especially when it involves going up to a stranger and asking to take their photo. However, if you do it with a smile on your face (even better if you try in the local language), then more often you’ll get a yes. Then you can take the photo you want without having to do it on the sly without their permission.
8# And if they want you to pay, make sure you do
Sometimes when you ask to take someone’s photo they’ll want you to pay a dollar or something. If they do ask, make sure you pay. What’s a dollar for a good photo?
9# No matter how much you think that photo’s worth it, it’s probably not
I’ve seen photographers break a lot of laws to get a photo (I’m thinking of the “High on Life” Crew who managed to piss off the entire country of the United States from taking an illegal photo at Yosemite National Park). Trust me, it’s better to be a good conscious traveller than to break the law and sometimes situations are out of your control.
10# Take a step back and DON’T take that photo
As my girlfriend can attest to, sometimes it’s easy to get caught up behind the lens trying to capture that perfect moment. Sometimes it’s better to take a step back and don’t take that photo; the perfect moment is already next to you. Those are the memories that you remember forever.
So, there you have it, those are my top 10 rules of travel photography. At the end of the day, photography is an expression; find what works for you and enjoy it!
If you have any tips of your own let me know in the comment box below. Happy snapping!
Macca Sherifi is a blogger, photographer and presenter who has worked in the travel industry for the past five years. He has travelled to over 70 countries, volunteered in Bangladesh and worked in both China and Australia.