The incredibly talented Amy from Club Narwhal is kind enough to share some of her fabulous photography tips today!
While I did finally get a fancy pants new camera, these five tips will work for pretty much any kind of camera, including your phone. As a case study, I’ll use photos from my trip to Morocco earlier this year, all of which were taken with a cheap little point and shoot! I would love to hear your travel photography tips in the comments below.
1. Shoot for “The Book” – When our amazing photographer was shooting our wedding, she kept saying, “Shoot for The Book,” referencing the beautiful photo book she would create at the end of our shoot. The Book wasn’t a series of the mandatory group shoots; rather, each page held a mix of detail shots, candid photos, and formal posed shots. The result was a book that told the whole story of our wedding.
Try to capture the unique vignettes you spy while traveling. The details tell the story. Whether you make a photo book or blog about your travels, shooting for a hypothetical book will help you to focus because it encourages you to give intentional narrative to a scene.
2. Shoot Thematically – Think about your favorite books or movies. Each of them probably circle around a general theme. Characters and scenes will echo this theme in a variety of ways. When you travel, pick a theme to photograph in every place. Maybe you’ll shoot interesting doors. Or cobblestone roads. Or clouds. Maybe you’ll shoot by color, making each day into a scavenger hunt. Whatever motif you choose, try to capture a few photos of your chosen theme every place you go.
Giving yourself a simple constraint (like these beautiful doors in Chefchaouen, Morocco) will allow you to more creatively explore the places you visit since you’ll always have an eye out for your theme. Even the most mundane things become exciting in the hunt.
3. Consider Scale – This is another way to say “shoot with your feet, not with your zoom.” If you shoot with your feet, then you are moving your whole body to focus on a point of interest. This means standing on your tiptoes to capture the expansive Sahara behind a young boy, or crouching on the ground to shoot some medina lanterns.
Think about what would change, impact-wise, if we were to reverse the scale of the above photos. Some things would be lost, some would be gained. When you travel, make sure to get down and dirty with your photographs. Varying the scale and perspectives will give heightened drama to your photos. Take a second to frame your scene in a compelling way. Don’t just point and shoot!
4. Be Curious, Not Invasive – Each place you visit will have common social customs regarding photography, especially photographing locals. Do some cursory research before leaving so you can be a courteous guest. For instance, before going to Marrakesh we discovered that it is customary to tip a vendor a few coins to photograph his or her wares. It is considered quite rude to just snap away without asking permission.
After asking permission, most merchants bent over backwards to help us capture the shots we wanted. We always tried to ask them questions about their goods and their country. Building a rapport helped us get wonderful tips for places to visit and eat that we would not have found in our guidebook.
Unabashed selfies, unique angles, and the Russian roulette of having passerbys snap your photo all add to the intrigue of your travel photos. If you’re super shy about putting yourself in photos, at least try to capture others, both candidly and posed. People add flavor to photos, much more so than stationary landmarks.
Okay, so let’s chat–what are your tips for shooting amazing travel photographs? Any fun stories of triumphs or failures that happened while you snapped away?