Five Secrets of Travel Photographers to Better Photos

Photographing travel photos is one of the most challenging types of photography. You won’t capture the essence of your vacation no matter how expensive your equipment is or how beautiful your subject is unless you are well-informed and have plenty of practice. Luckily, we can help.

A great travel photo is precious. But anyone who has tried to capture beautiful views or magnificent cathedrals quickly knows how difficult it can be to convey what you see in a photo. Here’s where you come in. My job as a freelance photographer is to capture stunning images quickly and thoroughly while traveling the globe. It might surprise you to learn how many mistakes I have seen in photographing travelers’ journeys. While you won’t be the best travel photographer in the world two weeks before your trip, you can make better photos regardless of your age, skill, experience, or camera model. This is the first part of my photography tips. I will start by sharing some common mistakes that I see travelers make and show you how to avoid them.

1. Take photos of art and stop taking them.

I don’t mean to be negative: Italian statues make wonderful subjects for photography. Monuments, churches, and grandiose cavernous churches are also great subjects. Avoid the paintings. A few months back, I was photographing in the Uffizi Gallery in preparation for Walks of Italy’s Florence Day Tour. A group of 25 tourists stumbled upon a Botticelli in masse. Their photos were blurry and dark, as well as full of people. They didn’t grasp or care about this fact: It’s not possible to capture a memorable or original shot if you just walk up to famous paintings and take a photo.

What should I do instead?

Photograph details such as the paint strokes on the canvas and the gold frames. Also, take photos of any parts that are most striking. Google will almost always have a photo of the entire artwork, but it’s the details that make the piece stand out. You can usually take photographs of the space depending on which gallery you have. You can enjoy Uffizi’s long, winding walkways or the large spaces of the Pinacoteca di Brera. You can capture the way a statue is placed within a space. This will be surrounded by art lovers. It is not an accident that the space was arranged in this way. These photos are much more interesting than a copy of a masterpiece.

2. Do not take too many selfies

Although it is commonplace to make complaints about people taking selfies at famous locations, I believe they are capable of working when the right place and time is available. It is not always the right place, or time, to take selfies in front of famous monuments. Even famous monuments such as Colosseum can look cramped and small in the corner next to your head. Instead, you should focus your camera on your loved ones and friends. You can catch them in public places like a piazza or under a statue. You can volunteer them to take part in a show in Piazza Navona and have some fun with your camera.

What should I do instead?

Not things, but memories. Not history, tell stories. Take as many photos of your surroundings as you can in a selfie if you are forced to. (More on that in the next point). You can take photos of your friends taking selfies at beautiful locations if they won’t quit their selfie addiction.

This leads me to my next tip…

3. Stop taking selfies the old-fashioned fashion way


Selfie sticks, no matter how popular, are not cool. You should also leave your selfie sticks at home when visiting galleries or other places that are crowded (museums in Italy have started to ban them due to the damage they have caused to art). However, I’m happy to allow you to take out your selfie stick when you’re outside.

While selfie sticks are sometimes criticized for being too “touristy” and tacky, real photographers care only about the quality of the photo. You can take better photos if you have a selfie stick. It makes the shot look more natural and flattering. You could as easily take the photo in your bedroom. You can also use them to create a video message that you want to send to your family and friends.

What should I do?

Do not angle your camera 90 degrees to the stick. You can aim for 110, 130, or even 140 degrees (so that the camera is closer than perpendicular to the stick). This will allow you to hold your hand at your side, and take a photo with the stick out of the frame. Two selfies I took with a selfie stick. These selfies are much more enjoyable when you can’t see them!

4. We need to talk about Instagramming food

When traveling, my policy is to limit the number of food photographers per group. If you have to capture every delicious Italian dish, and it is not possible to stop moving quickly, make sure that your camera is reserved for the most important moments.

I had Meloncello last week in Rome. It’s a similar drink to Limoncello but made with cantaloupe. I don’t mind sharing a photo of the orange liqueur-filled glass. Because it wasn’t my first time trying Limoncello, I didn’t take a photo of the Limoncello that I had afterward.

What should I do instead?

Focus on what interests you or is a “travel first”. It doesn’t have to look great, but it does not mean that it should be photographed. The photos will not look as special after a few days. If this is your first time making homemade lasagna, you can go wild!

This tip is more than just that. Although I love food as much as the next overweight traveler, the main reason I go back to certain places is not just because of the food. My favorite Roman restaurant has the most cheerful waitress you could imagine. They also make great spaghetti. The restaurant where you eat your food deserves to be mentioned if you are taking photos. Photograph the menu. Even if you don’t order it, take photos. The rustic interior, the tables that are set for guests, and/or the exterior. Photograph the restaurant from the street with people passing by. This is the third time I have written it. Capture the experience and the details.

5. Do not share photos as fast as possible

Professional photographers teach you to let go of the notion of immediateness. You don’t need to document your travels in real-time if you are serious about it. This means that you should only share one to two photos per day on social media. That’s enough for people to see what you’re doing well. Why? Why? Because editing and posting photos take up more time than taking photos. Before you leave, empty your phone or camera and then fill it up before you return.

What should I do instead?

Make sure to take lots of photos. The highlights of the trip will be obvious if you allow enough time between your return and the vacation. You will be eager to return to your favorite spots. My friends often ask me why I spend so much time in post-production rather than using automatic settings. I respond that a photo that takes 10 minutes to edit is not worth sharing. You will be able to capture more photos when you return home, and you can create a better photograph memory for your friends and family.

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