When shooting travel images, as well as showing people back home that you had a really great time and that it was sunny every day, try capturing shots that convey a sense of place and culture as well. By doing so you'll have a much ore memorable record of your trip and you should gain a collection of shots which are much more varied. To help you out, here are a few pointers that should help you improve your travel photography.
1. Do Your Research
If you're going on holiday to shoot photos every day rather than spending time sitting by the pool or building sandcastles on the beach with your kids you need choose your location and work out when would be the best time to visit. For example, some locations have a monsoon season or there will be times when temperatures are way too high for visitors to be out, wondering around with cameras. By doing your research before you arrive will save you time and also allow you to plan correctly for the weather, terrain etc. you'll be facing.
You can take a look in online galleries to see where other photographer's visited and review travel guides so you can make a note of the places you want to visit and the type of images you want to create.
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. Of course, there will be tourist information centres, maps and reps you can find more information from once you arrive at your chosen destination.
2. It's In The Details
As well as shooting sweeping vistas and portraits, use your zoom to shoot frame-filling, close-ups of detail. These detailed shots will help sum-up the essence of the location you're shooting in and you're more likely to capture something unique if you focus your attention on smaller items and detail rather than wider, popular shots. Small details such as spices on a market stall or strings of chillies drying in the sun are often very colourful and make interesting, close-up subjects.
Photos by David Clapp
3. How Many Shots?
If you enjoy visiting new locations every year it'll probably be a while before you return to the same location so make sure you shoot plenty. However, we don't mean just point and click as you still need to think about good composition etc. Just remember to try different angles of the same subject and always have your camera ready to shoot the unexpected.
Photo by David Clapp
4. Don't Overlook Landmarks
Many places around the world have well-known landmarks that when photographed will instantly tell the person who's looking at your photograph where you went on your week off. It's always worth taking a shot or two of these landmarks during your break but do look for new ways to shoot them. This could include getting closer, shooting a panorama or using crowds of tourists to add another level of interest to your shot.
Photo by David Clapp
5. Capture Culture
Get away from main shopping and tourist areas and you'll often find the culture of the country / town becomes more prominent. Do be careful though and keep an eye on your gear as you will stand out and tourists do sometimes get targeted by thieves.
See if there are any festivals, ceremonies or other events happening that'll be worth photographing. You'll be able to capture lively shots and if you shoot with a telephoto lens, you'll be able to throw backgrounds out of focus more easily which should blur tourists and other distractions, allowing all attention to stay with your subject.
Photo by David Clapp
6. Photograph People
Even though candid shots of people in crowds, at work etc. do have a place, generally it's advised and polite to ask permission before you take a photo of a stranger. Having said that, when people play a minor part in your image asking permission to shoot, particularly if it's a large crowd, can be impossible as there's just too many people.
If language is a barrier try smiling and pointing to your camera you should soon have a quick nod or shake of the head in response.
Always give your subject eye contact when you're talking to them between shots, smile and don't forget your manners. Try to learn what hello, please and thank you are in the language of the country you're visiting and 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. If you have a willing subject who tenses up and becomes a little too rigid when you put the camera to your eye take the shot any way then quickly snap another when they think you've finished to capture a moment when they're more relaxed.
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. You can find out how much people generally ask for in tips before heading out on the street and you can barter if you think the fee is too high.
Photo by Joshua Waller
7. Time Of Day
Shooting early morning or later in the evening will give you the best light for landscapes and architectural shots. In a morning, the sun is at a lower angle so your shots won't have large, deep shadows running through them. There will be less people around at this time too as many holidaymakers enjoy staying in bed a little longer when they are away. Don't dismiss shooting a few shots of a busy beach though as a scene where no sand can be seen because of towels and deckchairs will be just as interesting.
Photo by Rick Hanson