About Travel Photography As a Genre
Travel photography is the broadest photography genre in terms of all the different subjects it covers. It encompasses numerous other areas of photography, such as street, landscape, or architecture photography. This is why it takes a lot more than mere photographic knowledge to excel as a travel photographer.
A good travel photographer must be flexible, well-organised and outgoing. Flexible to adapt to time-related challenges (e.g. waking up early, staying up late). Well-organised to plan photographic trips to the last detail. Outgoing because, well, you can go a long way with a smile if you plan to, say, take portraits of total strangers in faraway lands. Learning a foreign language or three wouldn’t hurt either.
However, there’s something unique about travel photography that makes it stand out from all other photography genres. The purpose of travel photography goes beyond just shooting a spectacular image. Travel photography is a means to tell a story, to inspire, and, above all, to educate people on the diversity of our beautiful world.
Top 5 Travel Photography Tips
In the last decades, many factors have conduced to travel being accessible to more and more people. As a result, travel photography isn’t appealing to professional photographers alone. Pretty much everyone who suffers from wanderlust is keen to perfect their skills in travel photography. Here’s a handful of simple tips on travel photography to help you up your photography game.
1. Research Your Location
Your photographic trips should begin well before you even reach your destination. No matter if you are an amateur or a professional photographer, researching your location is vital if you want to snap those epic shots you’ve always dreamt of. Either you are on holidays or specifically travel for photography, a brilliant idea to help you keep track of all the places you want to visit is to create a personal map (e.g. with Google Maps) with all the points of interest you want to shoot.
Equally important is to know in advance the best time to visit the photography locations on your list. For example, some places are best enjoyed at sunset, while others should be visited at dawn to avoid the crowds. Do your homework and adjust your day-to-day schedule accordingly.
2. Choose Your Gear Wisely & Learn How To Use It
Even if you’ve decided that you want to invest time and money in travel photography, you shouldn’t buy the most expensive gear right from the start. That’s because you may eventually realise that travel photography isn’t for you after all. Furthermore, it will be easier for you to master the basics of shooting while using entry-level equipment.
Start with an entry-level DSLR or mirrorless camera and keep practising until you’re confident with using the manual mode. Let’s be honest here. There’s no reason why you should spend so much money on a camera if you’re planning to use the Auto settings alone. You’d be better off with a good smartphone if that’s the case. Moreover, always shoot RAW, as it allows you to edit your images afterwards.
Once you know your camera well, start flirting with the various lenses you can buy to achieve diverse results. For instance, with a wide-angle lens, you will be amazed at how an entire village can be squeezed in a single frame. Or, perhaps, you’d like to experiment with a telephoto lens, especially if you are into wildlife photography. The possibilities are endless. It all comes down to your preferences and budget.
If after a certain time you’re still hooked on travel photography, you can start buying other accessories, too. These may include tripods, extra batteries, a flash, or even a drone. At some point, you will know that it’s time to upgrade your camera, too.
3. Keep Practising & Be Patient
If there’s one thing about travel photography that you must always remember, it’s this: you need to practise, practise and then practise a bit more.
Don’t wait until next time you travel to test your camera and its functions. Go on a photography trip around your neighbourhood and start shooting. Shoot indoors and shoot outdoors. Shoot in bright sunlight, shoot in low light, and shoot at night. Hold your camera and shoot, use your tripod and shoot. In a nutshell, play around with all of your camera’s settings and functions (on manual mode, don’t cheat).
Once you come to terms with the importance of practice, it’s time to embrace patience, too. You can’t expect to learn everything in one go. You must invest a lot of time to finally be able to shoot superb travel images.
Furthermore, photography can be a waiting game. Very often, you will find yourselves waiting for the right time to take the perfect shot. It may be the exact moment when the sun dives into the sea or when the high tide comes. Also, bear in mind that weather conditions won’t always be in your favour while waiting. So, it takes a lot of determination, but most of all, patience to make it as travel photographers.
4. Always Carry Your Camera With You
You’ve spent an entire day out shooting and now you feel it’s time you left your camera at the hotel room to go have dinner and maybe enjoy a drink or three. You’re right about the food and drinks part but think twice before you leave your camera behind. Why not experiment with night photography while taking your (probably much-needed) post-dinner stroll?
No matter how well you’ve planned your trip, you never know when an exceptional opportunity arises for a shot you won’t want to miss. It’s better to carry your camera and never take it out of your bag than to leave it behind and regret not capturing that perfect moment in time that unfolded before your eyes and then vanished for ever.
5. Respect Locals & Wildlife
Whether you’re travelling within your country or abroad, you should always respect the locals. Under no circumstances should you make anyone feel uncomfortable for the sake of snapping the perfect shot. Not even a one-billion shot is worth making another person feel uneasy. If you’re dying to take a close-up of locals (and, especially, their children) or shoot during a local event, always ask for permission first.
Similarly, you should be mindful of animals and their well-being at all times. If you’re planning to shoot wildlife, you must always keep a safe distance and avoid any noises or movements that may disturb the animals. This is when a telephoto lens comes handy. On a lighter note, you can get as close as you want to super cuddly kittens or puppies who are willing to pose for you. Just make sure you reward them with a hug and/or a treat after the photoshoot.
From Hobby To Dream Job: How To Become a Professional Travel Photographer
Making a living out of your passion is certainly the dream. That holds for many travel photography enthusiasts who pursue a career in this field. There are several factors in play when it comes to becoming a professional travel photographer. Here’s a list of the five most important steps to take if you’re after a career in travel photography:
- Understand that professional travel photography is all about commitment and hard work. Therefore, make sure you are genuinely passionate about it before taking any further steps in this direction.
- Learn photography. Attend travel photography courses, classes, and workshops. Watch tutorials, read travel photography books, and practise a lot.
- Create a portfolio to showcase your work to potential clients.
- Network and collaborate with photographers around the world and other content creators. Attend conferences and similar events to get in touch with travel brands and tourism boards.
- Remember that competition is hard. Be ready to step out of your comfort zone when pitching yourself for travel photography jobs.
“I love photography, I love food, and I love traveling, and to put those three things together would just be the ultimate dream.”
— JAMIE CHUNG
However, travel photography isn’t just about helping travellers keep the memories of their past trips alive. It’s about showing the world to people who haven’t travelled as far and wide as they’d like.
Joud Travel & Food