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5 Common Travel Photography Mistakes To Avoid

Here are five common mistakes photographers make on their holidays and how you can ensure you don't make the same errors.

| Landscape and Travel

5 Common Travel Photography Mistakes To Avoid: Sunrise a the coast


1. Not Doing Your Research 

How much you research and what you research will depend on the purpose of your holiday. Are you going to a place with photography in mind or is photography something that you'll just be occasionally doing on the odd excursion? If photography is the main purpose of your trip you'll need to do slightly more planning/research than if you plan on laying by a pool for the majority of your holiday, but that's not to say research still isn't important as research and knowledge about the location you're travelling to will always make your holiday run more smoothly.

Where's your hotel? How easy is it to travel to other locations from it? What rules/ customs do you need to be aware of etc. are all important questions you should be asking. When photography is your main goal you'll need to do slightly more work to find out the best locations/opportunities that are perfect for photography. As well as the internet, chat to hotel staff and if the place you're staying in has one, the local tourist office as you'll likely find useful information not necessarily listed in a guide book. Do plan correctly for the weather, terrain etc. you'll be facing on trips out, too. 

The more information you collect before your trip, the more productive you'll find it to be. In fact, if you make a shooting plan or note down a few ideas in a notebook you can take the notes with you so you're not always searching for shooting suggestions.


5 Common Travel Photography Mistakes To Avoid: Paphos


2. Not Leaving The Tour Group

Organised excursions can be fun but they're not always great for capturing unique shots. Coaches will stop in a layby halfway up a mountain road to give tourists the chance to snap images of the picturesque view in front of them, but everyone will tend to stand in the same place and capture the same shot. If you have time, look to see if there's somewhere else you can take your images from to give you a more unique angle that others may not have taken. When in towns or other locations where there's plenty of people to capture portraits of try to break away from the group (if it's safe to do so) as having several people stick a lens in your face can be intimidating when everyone's focusing on just one individual. If you want to stay close to the group, or a few individuals, pick a different subject to start with then move back to the person who first caught your eye and politely ask if you can take a few photos after the rest of the group's moved on to something else.


5 Common Travel Photography Mistakes To Avoid: Mexico


3. Not Approaching People

It's easy to shoot candidly and we're not saying you can't capture interesting shots this way, but you'll be able to take much more intimate portraits by actually talking to the person you want to photograph.  Plus, it's more polite to ask permission so do take the time to learn how to say 'hello, 'thank you' and 'please' in the language of the country you're visiting to help with your conversations and don't forget to smile. Interact with them and take the time to learn a bit about them, as a result, you'll put them at ease and you may be able to capture shots that have much more character in them. Your job is to make your subject feel comfortable so always give them eye contact and once you've got your shot(s) be polite and show your subject the results. Just be wary of some people who'll expect a tip for helping you out.

If your subject looks uncomfortable when you start taking photographs, it is usually just best to stop and move on to something else as some people will say yes just to be polite when really they'd prefer to hide from your lens.


5 Common Travel Photography Mistakes To Avoid: Harbour


4. Not Really Thinking About Composition

When you're on tours where schedules have to be kept or are out with the family who don't want to wait around for you to take the perfect shot, not thinking about composition enough can be an easy mistake to make. Simple things such as a wonky horizon can spoil what should be a great picture and something like this can be easily rectified by simply slowing down and checking the frame. Think about the different rules of photography, look for interesting foreground detail as well as breath-taking backgrounds, keep an eye out for clutter and consider changing your angle or perspective. By thinking as a photographer rather than a tourist who's excited to be visiting a new place you'll soon be capturing images that have meaning and tell a story rather than a collection of snaps that just show you got a bit carried away with the shutter button. 


5. Taking 'The Shot' Everyone Has Of A Landmark

Famous landmarks have just one problem – they're famous which means finding a shot of them which isn't already on a thousand other cameras can be difficult but that doesn't mean it's impossible. We're not saying you should avoid taking them completely as a few good shots of the 'postcard' view are easily recognisable and will probably be something others will appreciate seeing but there are plenty of opportunities to capture something a bit different, too. For more tips, have a read of this: Photographing Famous Landmarks

If you want to add to our list, please leave your tip in the comments. 

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