Take better travel photos

Have you ever gone on an amazing holiday and taken hundreds of photos of the incredible things you saw and experienced, and upon showing them to family or friends, you find that they don’t truly represent the experience that you had? You are not alone. This is a common problem for many of us when we display our travel photos which can be frustrating to you and boring to your audience. The major issue here is that your holiday is not just about ‘seeing’, it’s a total sensory experience made of non visual elements including smell, sound, touch and taste; of which such elements can can be difficult to adequately capture in a single photograph. However, from my travel photography experiences there are a few tips that will help improve the visual representation of your trip, and give you the confidence to show off your holiday snaps.

Always have a camera with you ready to shoot

You can’t show what you don’t have! Although this may seem basic, but we’ve all had those times where we get somewhere amazing and think ‘I wish I’d brought my camera’. When you are experience something new and exciting, if you’re like me, you want to take photos of it. These days, the type of camera matters less since even the camera on your phone has the capabilities to take a decent picture in most conditions. Though without a camera, no picture can be recorded, and no experience can be captured to share. So make sure the battery is charged, the lens is clean, and the camera is either packed in a convenient place where you can take it out easily or have the camera out at all times.

Vary the types of photos you take

Have you ever looked backed over your photos and noticed that you’ve taken 20 or 30 images of the same thing? This is an indication that you need to broaden your vision and take different kinds of photos! When I look at photos I want to feel like I’m there with you seeing what you’re seeing. So help your viewer visually understand what you’ve experienced. When you take your photo look around and consider;

  • What do the surroundings look like?
  • What is unique about this place/person etc?
  • How can I capture the opposite to the image I’ve just taken? (e.g. if you’ve taken a wide landscape view, can you focus in on a small element within that view?)
  • Would this view look better in a landscape or portrait orientation?

A great tip to make your pictures more interesting is to look for contrast from what you are used to seeing at home. This is particularly easy when you go to a different country that is vastly different, and you’e not just  heading over to the next state! Look for the things that contrast with what you are used to, such as;

  • What kinds of foods are commonly consumed?
  • How do people dress?
  • What do the buildings or transportation look like?

Personally, I’ve found that taking photos of local people in touristy areas is a little easier if you’re shy to ask for a photograph, as generally in this setting they would be more accustomed to being photographed.

Tell your story with your photos

When you arrive home and are ready to show your photos, don’t just put all 1075 images up as they appear in your USB, take some time to choose your images well and tell a story with them. I’ve found that people are more drawn into a story that they can follow and understand, rather than just a random selection of pictures with no or little variety, and you can help tell that story in the following ways:

  • Rather than show five same photos of the same thing in a row, pick the best one to show out of those five.
  • Rearrange your pictures in an organized and methodical way so that it is easier to understand. For example, a common method is to chronologically arranging your photos, or you could also group them into themes, such as a look into the local foods that you tried.
  • Vary the type of images you display. For example, include detailed shots with your portrait images,
  • Explain briefly what the picture is about or give a side note or anecdote so that it can be properly appreciated, and people will understand it.

Share tips and knowledge gained through your travels

Every location and every trip has their own little quirks. Don’t be afraid to share your opinion on the location, whether there was a local joint that served authentic cuisine of the region which you particularly enjoyed or if there was a lesser visited neighbourhood whose offbeat vibe you thoroughly enjoyed. In addition to the images that you’ll show, being able to offer inside information will help you to engage your audience. Having a good commentary whether it be written or verbal, can help bring even more life to your images.

Holiday photo’s should be an experience that’s akin to your viewer feeling like they are there, and make them want to go there! The quality of your photograph may not match that of the best photographers in the world, but with the tips I’ve shared it can help you to represent your experience to your family and friends, and prevent them from falling asleep at your next photo night.

All images by Auyeung Photography.