Guest Post By
A travel photograph is a vacation keepsake. It tells a story, and it preserves dear memories of time spent with family. For commercial photographers, a few good images from a vacation can offset a portion of the trip costs.
Unfortunately most novice photographers return home from vacation with a memory card full of images which don’t look as interesting as they had expected. It doesn’t have to be that way. By making a few changes to the way you compose your photographs, and how you see the world around you, you can capture travel images on your vacation which mesmerize and captivate.
Have a Good Walking Lens
If I am traveling to a destination on my own for the sole purpose of photographing the area, I am willing to bring a camera bag full of lens and filter choices.
But when I am with my family, my main purpose is to enjoy my time with them. Capturing images still takes a high priority, but I don’t want to be encumbered by my photography. Having one versatile zoom lens is important, and allows me a multitude of crop and composition possibilities I would not have with a fixed focal.
Optimally I want the ability to shoot wide angle, and also to have a reasonable zoom length. My favorite walk around lens is the Canon 24-105 L-Series. It won’t get me a ton of reach like my 70-200, but it gives me a lot of versatility and it is lightweight.
Have a Shot List
Preparation is key to success in any endeavor. This is especially true for travel photographers. No matter how familiar you are with an area, you should do research ahead of time. What are the most important sights to photograph? Where does the sun rise and set in relation to each sight?
Advance preparation allows you the opportunity to contact local tourist information centers. They can inform you of important sights you might not be aware of. Will there be any local festivals or important events occurring during your visit?
Ask for guides and maps ahead of time. The guides usually contain some excellent photographic work, which also will give you ideas for locations to shoot and compositions to use.
Having composition ideas ahead of time will lead to more success. The best photographers I know plan their shots ahead of time. They know exactly what they will shoot, when they will shoot, and where they will shoot from.
There will be plenty of time for spontaneity. Just ensure that your first photography priority is capturing the images you envision.
Consider checking online for a photography club in the area you plan to visit. Touching base with local photographers can offer a treasure trove of shot ideas from artists familiar with the area. You might even consider hooking up for some shooting.
Personalize the Composition
I like to take several “safe” compositions which more or less document an area I am photographing. But the winning shots are generally when I personalize the composition.
Every photographer has a favorite method. Mine is to give a “You are Here” feel to my images. This can be as simple as crouching down to a level even with tall flowers or plant life, and shooting from their viewpoint toward points of interest.
When photographing your family, you should utilize tight compositions. Zoom in close to capture their bright expressions, leaving just a little room in the background to tell a story about the location. Most novices zoom back as far as possible when composing family images. This makes for terribly uninteresting photography. Always remember what the main subject is, and get close to it. In this case, it’s your family.
Take Notes Nightly
Every night download your images to your computer, and delete the ones which failed to meet expectations. At this point commercial photographers will want to add keywords to their images while the places visited are still fresh in their heads. You will be surprised how much you will forget about a location if you wait until you return home to slog through an entire vacation’s worth of images.
All photographers should make mental, or even physical notes after reviewing their shots. These should be in relation to things you wish you had done differently, or techniques which worked really well. Tomorrow will hold another day of shooting. Your goal should be to improve some aspect of your work each day.
Advance preparation is probably the most important task to shooting great images on a vacation. Know where and when to shoot ahead of time.
Use a versatile lens kit that allows you a decent amount of reach, while also giving you a wide angle option. Keep the lens kit of reasonable size so you can enjoy your vacation with your family. When photographing your family at sites, remember that your subject is your family. Crop in tight on them, leaving just a little glimpse of the area in the background to tell the story.
Enjoy your vacation, and bring back images which you will be proud of!
Daniel Padavona is the founder of Warmpicture Royalty-Free Images, which licenses vacation and travel photos. Daniel is an advocate for fair pay and commissions for artists, and regularly works with photographers wishing to diversify their earnings away from traditional stock agencies.