10 Tips For Better Travel Photography

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10 Tips For Better Travel Photography

This blog post may contain affiliate links.  I may earn a small commission for any purchases made through these links. Click here for the disclosure statement.

All photos are original to the author unless otherwise noted. 

What is Travel Photography

Travel photography is a type of photography that focuses on capturing cultural, natural, and architectural elements of different places. It involves documenting the local customs and traditions, unique landscapes, historic landmarks, and people of different regions to transport the viewer to that location. It is often used to evoke emotions and inspire wanderlust in people who have yet to experience those destinations firsthand.

Compared to other genres of photography, such as portrait, landscape, or street photography, travel photography prioritizes the subject’s context and storytelling rather than technical expertise. It also requires flexibility and adaptation to new and unpredictable environments, making it a challenging form of photography that combines skills from multiple genres. In summary, travel photography is a visual exploration of the world that highlights the beauty and diversity of different cultures and places.

1. Research your destination

Researching your destination ahead of time allows you to understand the location’s culture, history, and natural beauty, which in turn can inform your photography. By knowing what to expect, you can prepare the appropriate gear and techniques for capturing the best shots. 

Additionally, researching can help you identify iconic landmarks or hidden gems that are worth photographing. Knowing the best times of day to shoot, and considering the weather conditions, can help you capture lighting conditions that will enhance your shots.  Completing research in advance can save you time and reduce stress during your trip, ultimately improving your photography and enhancing your overall travel experience.

2. Understand the Exposure Triangle

Understanding the exposure triangle is essential because not all attractions open during the golden hour, and making the correct adjustments enables photographers to snap stunning photos in challenging lighting conditions. The exposure triangle consists of three fundamental elements: aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. When you cannot use a tripod, knowing about the exposure triangle helps photographers to adjust their settings to ensure sharpness without motion blur, even in low-light environments. Similarly, changing the aperture and shutter speed can help capture correctly exposed images during harsh sun. 

3. Learn to Shoot During Bad Weather

As a travel photographer, it’s essential to know how to shoot during challenging weather and lighting conditions. You never know what Mother Nature will bring, and you might not have the luxury of waiting for the perfect moment. Plus, travel photography is often about capturing authentic moments and places, so shooting during challenging conditions can help you achieve that. For instance, foggy or rainy weather can add mood to your images, while shooting in the rain can add dramatic skies and colorful reflections. Additionally, you’re probably only in a specific location for a limited time, so learning to work with what you have will ensure you capture some amazing and unique shots during your travels.

4. Shot Spherical Panos

Spherical panorama is a type of panorama that captures a wider view of a scene by stitching together four or more smaller images that are essentially the four corners of the final image. By capturing a spherical panorama, you can show the full scope of a location when your lens is not wide enough to capture it. This type of panorama differs from standard panoramic shots, which typically capture a horizontal or vertical strip of a scene.  

5. Explore less touristy areas

Unique travel photography of a vintage train station in the less touristy areas of Japan.

Getting off the beaten path allows photographers to capture unique and authentic moments not commonly seen in touristic destinations. It provides an opportunity to experience the local culture, interact with the locals, and capture their daily life, customs, and tradition. By venturing away from popular destinations, photographers can find lesser-known spots with stunning scenery, hidden gems, and fascinating subjects, thus creating more diverse and original images. 

Additionally, less crowded areas can provide photographers with more space, time, and creative freedom to experiment with angles, lighting, and composition. Exploring less touristy areas can also challenge the photographer to find beauty and meaning in ordinary things, resulting in more meaningful and compelling photographs. 

6. prioritize your photography

Prioritizing your photography while travelling means making a conscious effort to think about what kind of images you want to capture during your trip. It involves identifying the places you want to visit, the subjects you want to photograph, and the best time of day for capturing the shot you envision. It also means being aware of your limitations, such as weather, time constraints, and rules around photography.

Prioritizing your photography is important because it helps you make the most of your time and ensures that you come away with images that tell a story and capture the essence of your trip. It allows you to focus on specific areas of interest and be more intentional with your photography, resulting in more impactful and meaningful images. 

7. Don’t Take a Tour

If you are interested in travel photography, it is better to avoid tours as they often keep you on a defined path to popular locations. When you are on a tour, you cannot take your time to explore and discover the hidden gems that offer the best photo opportunities. More often than not, tours are designed to cater to a large group of people with different interests and these locations may not necessarily provide the unique or creative perspective that a photographer looks for.

Tours also limit the amount of time you can spend at each location, and photography requires patience and exploration.  Therefore, if you are keen on capturing the beauty and essence of a place, skip the tours and opt for the flexibility and freedom that allows you to explore, observe and capture the moments that speak to you. The exception to this is taking tours specifically for photography.

8. Capture Elements that Represent the Location

Cacti, bluebonnets, and Wildflowers

Travel photography is about capturing a location’s essence and conveying its personality through images. To do this, photographers should focus on capturing elements that authentically and compellingly represent the destination. Some examples of how to achieve this include:

1. Landscapes: Capturing breathtaking natural scenery, such as mountains, beaches, scenic drives, or city skylines.

2. Architecture: Showcasing unique or traditional buildings, bridges, monuments, or other visually intriguing structures.

3. People: Photographing locals engaging in cultural activities, socializing or working, capturing the essence of a place.

4. Food: Capturing the traditional dishes and local cuisine can highlight the unique cultural experience that many travelers seek.

5. Lifestyle: Capturing the day-to-day activities of locals, such as playing games in the park, going to the market, or attending festivals, can create an immersive experience of the destination.

Overall, capturing elements representing a location creates a sense of place and allows viewers to connect with the destination from afar.

9. Avoid Letting Social Media Influence you too much

Allowing Instagram and other social media to influence your travel photography can result in a lack of originality and a loss of personal perspective. It’s easy to get caught up in capturing the most popular or trendy shots, but this can lead to photos lacking authenticity and emotions. In addition, relying too heavily on social media can result in a narrow view of a destination, with images only showcasing “Instagrammable” spots and ignoring the true essence of a place.

By avoiding the influence of social media, travelers can fully experience a destination without feeling pressured to capture the perfect shot. They may also discover unique perspectives and capture unexpected moments that truly reflect their personal experience. Ultimately, travel photography should be about capturing the beauty and essence of a destination as seen through your own eyes.

10. Look for opportunities to make popular locations unique

4 layers of white sand with 4 textures created by the ever changing landscape of White Sands National Park

An image of popular places can be distinctive by capturing it from a different perspective or angle, focusing on a unique detail or element of the location, or capturing it during a specific time of day or season. Experiment with unique compositions and try to capture the essence of the place rather than just taking a generic photo. 

For example, a photo of the Eiffel Tower can be made unique by zooming in on details such as the intricate metalwork or at sunrise or sunset. Similarly, a picture of Niagara Falls can be different by capturing it in a long exposure to create a smooth, flowing effect or by taking the photo during winter when the falls are frozen.

Ultimately, the key to making an image of a popular place unique is to find a way to capture it that differs from what is typically seen in postcards or social media.


Travel photography is a passion that requires planning, practice, and experimenting with different styles and techniques. Hopefully, these ten essential travel photography tips will help you take stunning photos of your travels and capture the essence of each place you visit.

Author Bio

Author Bio Image

Delaney is a Business Analyst by day and a travel and wildlife photographer by night who is using her skills for translating complex technical language into easy to understand concepts to make photography achievable at all skill levels. You have questions; she has answers.

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