5 Tips to Improve Your Travel Photography!

You’ve planned your vacation, and you’re so excited about all of the wonderful things on your itinerary and, of course all of the fabulous pic – ERK!  Oh no!! I SO want to capture this trip in the best way possible… but how?!

Marlene Chabot Travel Photography-04
Photo courtesy Marlene Chabot

To avoid this bout of self-flagellation over your lack of creativity/artistry/camera skills/camera gear, let’s consider where to start to ensure, regardless of creativity/artistry/camera skills/camera gear, that you are coming home with photographs that represent in the best way possible all of the unique, beautiful and fantastic things you will be seeing.

While having fun and increasing your confidence as well!

cars in old havana, cuba

Our list of the top 5 travel photography strategies to come home with photos you are so very pleased with:

Best Light – early or late!

As with anything you would plan to photograph, regardless where you are, it’s always best to plan to give yourself the advantage of shooting in the best light.

Certainly, we know it’s not unusual to be out and about, on a tour, walking around the city, whatever throughout the day, including at the least photograph-friendly time, in the hours around noon.  It always happens.  Sure, you’ll get some snapshots, but while you’re out at less opportune times, take note of those spots you’d like to get great photos of and return.

At a time when you’re most likely to create an image you’ll love!

Get out early to enjoy the splendour of sunrise and beautiful pastel blue morning light at these choice locations.  Plan to hit one of the highlights during the sweet spot just before – and just after! – the sun sinks below the horizon.  You’ll be so durned pleased that you did!

Marlene Chabot Travel Photography-01
Photo courtesy of Marlene Chabot
Marlene Chabot Travel Photography-02
Photo courtesy Marlene Chabot

Expand your comfort zone!

Oh boy!  This can be particularly challenging for some of us… I’m speaking to you, fellow introverts!  Even we basement-dwellers who enjoy emerging from the dank darkness to photograph people for a living.

It can be really, REALLY hard to get authentic, beautiful people pictures on the street.  It means we have to approach our intended subjects cold, extend ourselves from the relative safety behind the lens, and engage with strangers who HAVEN’T contracted with you to take their picture.

If in a foreign country, it’s a great start to go armed with at least a “hello” in their language.  Know even a tad more – “excuse me” is usually a winner – and you’ll feel a little less vulnerable and more confident to approach.

Smiling is key.  Even as you’re busy shooting your inanimate surroundings.  Exuding joy is inviting for others and they’re much more likely to encourage not only your verbal engagement, but likely a photograph as well.

Marlene Chabot Travel Photography-03
Photo courtesy Marlene Chabot
Marlene Chabot Travel Photography-06
Photo courtesy Marlene Chabot
cuban man in old havana, cuba
Photo courtesy Tracy Connery
Old man Cuba
Photo courtesy Tracy Connery

Do your homework!

Start your trip equipped with some knowledge about where to go and what you’d like to photograph. Know how you’re going to get around, particularly to those special spots, and at what times you’ll be most successful in accomplishing your goal.

Know beforehand if there are rules you’ll have to work with, and maybe even who you need to talk to to work around them!

Sure, it’s fun to fly by the seat of your pants, and that is part of a great travel experience.  But, it’s also beneficial to be armed with as much knowledge about your destination as possible, particularly when you’re wanting to capture as much as you can in a limited amount of time.

Che Havana Cuba
Photo courtesy Tracy Connery
Floridita Havana Cuba
Photo courtesy Tracy Connery

Don’t forget the details!

It’s not unusual to head out on a trip armed with several ideas of what we should be capturing in any given place.  We’ve seen the epic landscapes and the shots, abundant in colour and activity, of fabulous cultural events and those can get stuck in our heads as must-do’s.

However, in addition to those wonderful shots, there’s a ton that’s wonderfully representative of our travels that can be overlooked as they’re the little bits and snippets of the place, the culture and the experience.

These can be wonderful snippets conveying even more effectively the place, the people, the culture and the experience.

Havana Cuba street scene
Photo courtesy Tracy Connery
Havana Cuba flags
Photo courtesy Tracy Connery
Havana, Cuba
Photo courtesy Tracy ConneryRoad less traveled!

Road less traveled!

In keeping with expanding your comfort zone, there’s huge reward to be enjoyed when you leave the beaten track.

Bag the tour, take a break from the beach, walk instead of taking a taxi.  Taking some time away from the routes more densely travelled by other tourists can often reap wonderful rewards, both photographically and in your confidence as a traveller.

It’s not always about the iconic, must-have, photographs of a given place.  Capturing the spirit, culture and energy of a place can often mean leaving the usual tourist experiences in favour of the back streets, the hole-in-the-wall, the chicken bus, the villages– where living, and some of the best photography, happens!


market in havana, cuba
Photo courtesy Tracy Connery
Photo courtesy Tracy Connery
Marlene Chabot Travel Photography-05
Photo courtesy Marlene Chabot

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