3 Simple Ways to Improve Your Travel Photography

We all love taking pictures when we travel. It’s a fun, creative way to not only commemorate our adventures but also to share them with our friends and family.

In other words, it’s great for showing off.

You don’t need a bunch of expensive camera equipment to take dazzling travel photographs. Just a good eye and a few smart guidelines. Only you can provide the former. As for the latter, here are three that should help get you started.

Scout for Clout

The first thing a budding photographer must do is the same thing that every traveler should do: make a plan. Some folks like to keep things loose and spontaneous when they travel, which is totally fine, but it’s still important to prepare a little. Just because you like being “spontaneous” doesn’t mean you leave the house not knowing where you’re going.

Likewise, while taking advantage of unexpected surprises can result in good travel photos sometimes, balance that out by scouting out a few extra-special sights and locations ahead of time. Find a rustic crag of mountainous Denver real estate that wouldn’t look out of place in a nature documentary or a historic Philadelphia landmark so distinguished it’d make Ben Franklin nostalgic. Including a few pre-planned “wow” shots elevates any assortment of souvenir snapshots.

Compose Yourself

More experienced photographers may be rolling their eyes at what seems like a “no duh” suggestion, but not everyone is a so-called pro. Frankly, even those that are could stand to be reminded of how key composition is to taking eye-catching pictures. Bad composition can make even the neon playground that is Las Vegas look boring, while good composition can turn your own backyard into a majestic natural landscape.

A good starter tip to always remember is the Rule of Thirds, which divides every image into nine blocks, three vertical and three across. The idea is that the important elements in the shot should follow these lines and punctuate their intersections. It sounds more technical than it really is. Today, most cameras—even phone cameras—incorporate the Rule of Thirds by featuring a 3×3 grid on-screen when you’re taking a shot. That’s not just interface clutter, but a helpful tool. Use it.

Timing is Everything

In travel photography, it’s easy to fall into the trap of emphasizing “location, location, location.” The thing that separates good pictures from great ones, though, isn’t just where you point the camera. It’s also when. Again, having a game plan is crucial here. Consider what time of day your chosen locale will be at its most scenic or dynamic.

For instance, a shot of the New York City skyline is a lot more impressive at sunrise or sunset, with rosy rays of light peeking from between the huge buildings. A tropical Honolulu beach will look pretty any time of day, but when high tide brings out the surfers and the waves are crashing against the shore, it captures a sense of excitement that other shots can compete with. Some pictures are spoiled by having tourists cluttering the frame. Others are enhanced by it. Snap accordingly.

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