5 Tips for Better Travel Photography

5 Tips for Better Travel Photography

The incredibly talented Amy from Club Narwhal is kind enough to share some of her fabulous photography tips today!

Well hello, lovely Treasure Tromp readers! My name is Amy and I blog about food, travel, and creativity on Club Narwhal. I am so excited to share a few tips for better travel photography, especially since I know you guys all have a touch of wanderlust if you read Nicole’s blog.  

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.

5 Tips for Better Travel Photography

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.

5 Tips for Better Travel Photography

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.

5 Tips for Better Travel Photography

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!

5 Tips for Better Travel Photography

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.

5 Tips for Better Travel Photography
5. Photograph People, Especially Yourself! We humans are a self absorbed lot and love looking at ourselves. Go ahead and take 100 photos of that famous bridge from a million different vantage points. Just don’t forget to jump into one of those shots to add variety to the scene.

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?

A big ‘thank you’ to Amy for sharing this tips! Make sure to show her a little love and ay hello to Club Narwhal here:

blog | bloglovin‘ | twitter | pinterest |facebookinstagram

  • Great tips. I’ve never really thought about themes before – but can see how this could make a great difference.
    Claire xx | somewhere… beyond the sea

  • Kristin

    Love this! I’m just learning to use manual and have a hard time finding a balance between being ABLE to shoot beautiful photos and doing it on the go while traveling. One question I am curious about is what is the best/easiest way to have strangers photograph you? A DSLR can be daunting to passers-by and may not speak English. I obviously wouldn’t have them shoot in manual, but would Auto be the way to go?

  • These are AMAZING tips! Thanks so much!!

  • I’m loving these tips Amy! I try to take little detail shots and big pictures shots to tell a story too, sometimes you get the best shots that way.

  • Nicole Ehrlich

    Great tips! I like the one on shooting thematically. Going to try that on my upcoming trip to Cape Town!

  • Agree, these are great tips. I too like the idea of shooting a theme and remembering to get in a few shots myself :-)

  • I love the tip about scale, so important!

    xx Kelly
    Sparkles and Shoes

  • Fabulous tips, Amy!! I love that they were off-beat and ones that you don’t just find anywhere yet EXTREMELY helpful! I had never thought to “shoot for a book” before or do extensive research as to a country’s customary photographing preferences. Thanks!

  • Great tips! I will have to keep these in mind the next time I go on a trip. I love the first two tips. I’ve always had the idea of telling a story through photos, but I always seem to get distracted with other things, the same with shooting a theme. I really want to focus on colors. I think it looks gorgeous when you’re finally able to piece everything together.

  • Really interesting tips! I also like to choose a theme when I take photos, previous themes have been posters and people at work. But I have never chosen a colour theme, that`s definitely what I want to do next! Your photos of all the blue doors are really beautiful.

  • I want to go on a trip just to try these out! :) Actually I could stand to implement some of these tips into my day-to-day photos. Great tips AND photos, Amy!

  • Thanks for sharing! I have never thought about ‘picking a theme’ while traveling. Great idea!

  • Thank you for sharing, Amy! These are great tips. I love the idea of shooting for a book.


  • This is so fantastic! love the images here and the tips are super helpful. I love the idea of “shooting for the book”. My challenge has always been – how to organize all the photos once you return from a long trip! So time consuming.

  • Great tips and great pictures! Such a fun and interesting read… :D

  • These are all good tips! :)

  • Sumit Rana

    Hi thank you for sharing such useful tips with great picture illustrations. I am a beginner in photography, so
    in order to learn I enrolled for ‘Surajkund photography workshop’ which will be
    conducted by the pro photographer Mr. Dinesh Khanna on 8th Feb, 2014 at Taj
    Vivanta, Surajkund. If anyone interested, you can check out the details here: http://on.fb.me/19X1GTh

  • Pingback: 5 TIPS FOR BETTER TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY - Club Narwhal()