Expert Tips on How to Take Better Travel Photos

By Paul Riegler on 28 June 2018
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After a long journey to a far off (or perhaps not so far off) place, you’re left with the memories, a few souvenirs, and – for many – photographs that simply didn’t do justice to the trip.

Despite the proliferation of smartphones with increasingly powerful and intelligent built-in cameras, the photos most people take aren’t necessarily improving.

To understand what makes a good travel photo, I spoke with FBT Editorial Director Jonathan Spira, whose book on the history of photography was named a “best book of the year” by the New York Times.

The beach in Waikiki

The beach in Waikiki

Here are five tips on how to get the best possible photographs from your trip without having to lug around several gadget bags full of professional or semi-pro equipment.

1.) Candid camera
Focus on capturing the moment, the scene, take a few extra shots, and follow the example of Henri Cartier-Bresson, recognized as the pioneer of street (or candid) photography. Cartier-Bresson viewed photography as capturing a decisive moment. “I suddenly understood that a photograph could fix eternity in an instant,” he once said.

2.) Chase the light
The best lighting conditions are in the so-called golden hours around sunrise and sunset. Get up early and explore the marketplace, the town, or wherever you happen to be to get great photos and spend the rest of your day enjoying your visit, just snapping the occasional shot.

3.) Forget the flash
Like many other pros, Cartier-Bresson never used flash in his photography, something he saw as “impolite…like going to a concert with a pistol in your hand.” The beauty that natural light affords will also result in far more striking photographs.

4.) Forget about selfies, or just indulge in one or two
Face it, you and your friends know what you look like. In ten or twenty years from now, do you want to enjoy the beauty of the region and a flashback to a wonderful trip or see you blocking what your photo should have been.

5.) If it looks like it might be a good photo, take the picture
Unlike with film photography, the incremental cost of a few additional pictures is tiny. Capturing a moment that will not repeat itself will be the reward.

(Photos: Accura Media Group)

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