Getting the most from your travel photos


Getting the most from your travel photos

It’s May, which means that (for those of us in the northern hemisphere) summer is just around the corner – and with that comes summer vacation!

For many people, their holidays might be the only time they really bring out the camera and take a lot of photographs. So it’s the perfect time to get to know some of the absolute basics of travel photography, to make sure the images that you create are ones of memories you’ll be happy to share with your family and friends!

Some basic tips for great travel photography:

1. Photograph everything – people, food, places, sights

If I think back to my favourite trips and the best memories I have from them, a lot of the time it’s the unexpected things that I remember and treasure the most. Some of my best travel memories are of things which I did not expect to find. To this day, I know that the best pasta I have ever eaten was in the tiny village of Praiano on the Amalfi Coast of Italy. And one of the best breakfasts I’ve had was of menemen (a Turkish dish of eggs and spices). And there was that one time an elderly gentleman in Cuba asked me for money – not for food, but to buy some guitar strings so he could play. Having photographs of these diverse memories is going to help you remember not just the things you see, but the people, flavours, and experiences that you have.

Colourful flowers and ice cold beer, some of my favourite memories from a recent trip to Spain.
Photo credit: Adrienne Pitts

This couple in Alghero, Sardinia, watched the sunset together without moving or saying a word. They were completely and utterly transfixed and bathed in golden light, and it remains one of my very favourite travel memories.
Photo credit: Adrienne Pitts

2. Keep that horizon straight

I’m the first to put my hand up and admit that more often than not, I can be guilty of taking a wonky photograph. So (for me and for you!) my advice is this: Take a moment, breathe, and if you have the option of turning on a grid or guidelines on your camera to help you align things to a straight line, do it! Once you are sure that golden sunset over the ocean is nice and straight… shoot it.

Photo credit: Adrienne Pitts

3. Get off the beaten track & talk to the locals

The best tip I can give you, is that you really get out there and explore. It doesn’t matter if you’re staying in a cheap youth hostel in the centre of town, or if you’re at a 5 star resort on a remote island. The best thing you can do is make sure you leave your surroundings, and really see the place you are in. Talk to some locals, or ask people at the front desk – “What is something that is really unique about this place? Where can I find the best tacos? What are you proudest of about your home town?” Find out, grab a map (or download an offline map to your phone) and head out!

Photo credit: Adrienne Pitts

One of the best travel experiences I have had was in Rio de Janeiro, Brasil. It involved visiting the city’s largest favela (slum), called Rocinha. Travelling with a local, and guided through the favela by him, he shared his knowledge of what life was like there. We ended our trip by volunteering at the orphanage in the Favela. And it gave us a truer insight into life in Brasil than any resort could have. Photo credit: Adrienne Pitts

4. Shoot in natural light, try and avoid flash photography

It’s nighttime. And your camera comes with a flash – win! Just bear in mind that flash can more often than not be unflattering to both people and objects – and it won’t be strong enough to illuminate something large, like a building. If you can, turn your flash off and rely on the ambient light which is around you – it will be much more evocative, and won’t have that bleached out look.

Photo credit: Adrienne Pitts

5. Not every photo needs to have you in it 😉

Sure it’s traditional – “I went to Paris! Here’s me with the Eiffel Tower.” Or “I went to Italy! Here’s me in front of the Leaning Tower of Pisa”… but it can get a little repetitive. And when you think about it, the fact that you have photographs of these places already proves that you were there!

Instead, how about standing back and showing the wider scene? All those people pretending to hold up the Leaning Tower of Pisa look pretty funny, right? Martin Parr captured that beautifully in this image, published in his fantastic book ‘Small World’.

Photo credit: © Martin Parr, published in ‘Small World’, Dewi Lewis Publishing

Or zoom in and show a bit of detail. A shoot in Lisbon resulted in my falling completely and utterly in love with the colourful tiles found around the City. By zooming in and getting details of many of them, I was able to create a colourful collage of some of my favourite patterns all together.

Photo credit: Adrienne Pitts

6. Do something with your photographs

In the age we are living in, more often than not our photographs are digital files which end up languishing on our computers. Sure, we might post a Facebook album to share with friends, but how often do we actually get prints made, or create a physical album?

I can wholeheartedly recommend that you download those photographs and create a printed album from them – sites such as the beautiful Artifact Uprising and the trusty Blurb both have easy editing software which will help you create a photo album of all your shots, print and bind it into a book, AND deliver it to your door. Then you have your very own, one of a kind album of your vacation – and you can revisit those memories whenever you want.

Some of the travel books I have printed over the years, these were all printed with Blurb.
Photo credit: Adrienne Pitts

Adrienne Pitts

Adrienne Pitts is a travel, portrait and lifestyle photographer. Originally from New Zealand, she currently lives in London – a city she loves that is also just a hop, skip and a jump away from a load of exciting travel destinations… You can see her work on her website: www.adrienne.co.nz, checking out her tumblr: www.adriennepitts.tumblr.com, and find out where in the world she currently is by following her on Instagram: www.instagram.com/hellopoe

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