Empower Your Photography: A Dynamic Guide For Adventurous Travelers

Non-rev travelers have unique challenges in travel photography. The main issue is that camera gear is inconvenient to carry around. While a professional camera may give you higher quality photos, a novice can use simple strategies to improve their photo-taking skills, even without top-of-the-line equipment. 

Editing Travel Photography

One of the simplest things you can do to make your travel photography pop is to take the time to edit them. Editing can be as basic as your phone’s camera app functions or as complex as Photoshop. It can be tedious to take the time to go through all of your photos and edit them. I typically use my Google Pixel’s camera app during downtime in the airport or on the way home to enhance my photos. Some require just a simple pre-set you can select. On others, I may fine-tune elements like highlights, shadows, brightness, etc. My phone even has a magic eraser function to erase unnecessary photo-bombers. You can even use the eraser to blur a pimple or two!

As I am perusing my photos, I also make a point to delete any blurry pictures. I also delete the pre-edited image, so I do not clutter my gallery with two copies of the same photo. Deleting duplicates also ensures the correct version of the image uploads to social media. Sometimes, one captures the perfect shot, and it doesn’t need additional editing. More often than not, the picture isn’t as lustrous as what you see with your own eyes and could use a boost. 

Camera Angle for People

Experiment with the camera angle to see what produces the most flattering shot. Think beyond your subject standing straight at the camera with the camera at eye level. Perhaps you want to include more of the background in the photo. Maybe you want a close-up. I like to utilize the rule of 3rds (below) whenever possible. Think of the photo as if it is sliced into thirds vertically. Rather than placing the subject in the middle third of the photograph, place the subject in the left or right third. This shift can create a more artsy and visually stimulating effect. It is similar to how chefs plate food with odd numbers of each item on the plate for aesthetics. 

In addition, consider whether you want your camera to shoot from above or below your subject. Maybe you want to squat and shoot from below to capture the height of your travel companion or more of the background. Sometimes capturing an image from above can highlight the face and have a flattering effect on the body. Experiment with your camera position and your subject’s poses. Remember, they cannot see the view from your lens. Guide them and use a discerning eye to craft a flattering image. Perhaps they should stand at an angle, change their arm placement, and adjust their legs. These alterations can create movement in the picture, to appear less “touristy”. There are many influencers that make content on posing that offer good tips! It is helpful to follow others to learn posing secrets. Make sure to teach your travel buddy so you have some quality photos of yourself! 

Travel Photography Eiffel Tower
Paris: Subject Posed Rather than Straight On

The Selfie

You will inevitably want a picture with your travel mate. Maybe there isn’t someone nearby to take a photo. Perhaps you do not want to part with your phone. There are a few strategies to utilize for a better selfie. Take the picture with your outside arm and hold your phone as far away as possible. The distance helps you include more background in the picture. Consider if you want to squat. Maybe there’s a mountain view you would like visible.

Think about your lighting. Are you facing the sun squinting? Are there shadows hitting your faces? A final tip for the selfie is to find something to prop your phone on (or use a tripod) and utilize your phone’s timer function. Maybe you’re hiking a remote trail without anyone around to take your picture. This technique allows you to get more of the environment in your picture. Just be aware of your surroundings. Do not stage your photo in a dangerous spot where, in a rush to get positioned, you could fall off a cliff. You don’t want to be this type of insta-famous. 

Thinking Beyond Your Phone’s Basic Camera Settings

Most of us whip out our phones, click on the camera app, and snap an image. With most smartphones, your camera has evolved! Utilize the settings. If you’re taking a picture of a waterfall, consider a panorama or a long exposure. Experiment with your zoom and physical distance from what you are photographing. Try out portrait mode. Your phone might even have a specific food camera setting. Use your motion settings for moving objects and experiment. Is it dark out? Use your night settings! Consider taking some videos. Some phones even do time lapses and slow motion. 

My phone’s camera also allows further focus on an object by touching the screen where you want the camera to focus. When you do this, a few more options pop up, including a temperature meter (warm vs cool) and a lightness/darkness scale. Adjusting these can help you take pictures that aren’t overexposed or portraits that do not wash a person out. Simple tweaks like this go a long way. With such incredible technology in your pocket, it is vital to experiment and utilize the tremendous functions you already possess on your device.

travel photography, waterfall
Long Exposure Shot in Costa Rica

Optional Gear for Travel Photography

We haven’t opted for a professional camera yet due to the size it would take up in our carry-on bag. However, we do have a compact option. We bought a GoPro in Hawaii to record our Manta Ray snorkel experience. It is helpful for capturing adventurous experiences and is small. We try to select only the attachments we need for the trip at hand to carry on the plane. Before we got the GoPro, we had a cheaper version for snorkeling. Unfortunately, we lost our footage because we did not screw the camera on tight enough to the mount, and it disappeared into the ocean. We searched but came up empty. Make sure you keep the camera tightly mounted to avoid losing it! A GoPro can help capture travel photography/videography that would be difficult or risky to get with just a phone. If you don’t want to take up space in your carry-on with a tripod, try to find a fence, a rock, a tree, or another surface to rest your phone/camera on. Resting your phone on something stable will help you get clear pictures. 

GoPro Snorkel Clip

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One response to “Empower Your Photography: A Dynamic Guide For Adventurous Travelers”

  1. Excellent advise!

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