How to take good travel photos

You’ve spent days flying, driving, ferrying, boarding trains, or maybe even a combination of all of these modes of transportation to reach your destination. And now you’re finally here, the place you’ve always dreamt about, told friends about, and bragged to your coworkers about, so of course you want to capture it in all its glory on your smartphone or your fancy digital camera. But when you do, you realize the images simply don’t do it justice and you’re stuck with nothing to show for your journey of a lifetime.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, travel photography can be not only easy, but fun. All you have to do is listen to the experts.

On a recent excursion to Havana, Cuba, we were lucky enough to spend a little time amongst some of the best in the travel photography business, including Renan Ozturk, a photographer for the likes of National Geographic and athlete with North Face; Elisabeth Brentano, a California-based photographer who spent nearly a decade in newsrooms around Los Angeles before trading it in to live on the road in search of the perfect landscape shot; and Chelsea Yamase, a Kauai-based adventurer and photographer whose photos will make you want to learn to free dive right this second.

Here’s are their best travel photography tips that anyone from beginners to experts will appreciate.

Renan Ozturk: Chase the light

“My biggest travel photography tip is something really simple, which is just to shoot in the good light,” Ozturk said, explaining that good light can be found during “sunset or sunrise. It also extends into the pre-sunrise and post-sunset.”

To Ozturk, timing truly is everything when it comes to both taking photos and enjoying your time while adventuring around the globe.

“Stay out a little longer than most people,” he said. “That will give you better photos and will help you beat the crowd for your food and your photos.”

Lastly, the photographer and documentarian suggested would-be travel photographers learn how to use a few editing apps, like Lightroom Mobile. “It’s really going to make a big difference,” Ozturk said.

Chelsea Yamase: Snap the candid shots

“I think the best photos evoke a sense of place and let you get lost in a particular moment; vacation photos are no exception,” Yamaze said. “The three rules I use: lighting, composition, and connection.”

It’s clear with one glimpse at Yamase’s wildly popular Instagram account that she abides by these rules religiously, which helps her followers feel like they are traveling right alongside her as she free dives in Hawaii or camps under the stars at Yellowstone.

And like Ozturk, Yamase believes that getting up early truly pays off.

“In general, shoot in morning or evening light, tropical ocean scenes can sometimes look nice midday when the color of the water is the most vibrant,” she said, adding that spending just a few extra moments walking around an area will help you set up the perfect snap.

“Get low or high, and take a few from each spot. A breeze, a slight change of angle or posture can make a big difference,” Yamase said. “You can always go back through and delete the ones you don’t like.”

And beyond the technical, Yamase explained that the “connection” is the most important part of taking any photograph.

“What does it feel like to be here and how can I portray that emotion,” Yamase asks herself while clicking down on her camera’s shutter. “I see so many vacation photos where couples or families stand in front of a viewpoint, all pose and smile. Totally nothing wrong with those (they make great Christmas cards) but beyond showing that ‘Hey we all made it here!,’ there isn’t much of a story.”

Instead, she suggested people try to move and interact with the environment around them, which she said “will be inherently more interesting.”

Yamase noted that often the best photos take real moments (“maybe your friend blissfully laying on the beach”) and refine them just a touch. She suggested directing your subject to move a certain way (“perhaps asking her to lay 15 feet away where the sand is undisturbed and you can get the water just touching her toes”) to help you not only capture a beautiful image, but also capture the feeling of that very moment.

“Overall, I’ve been in some of the most beautiful places in the world and my favorite photos are always the one I have the most connection with,” Yamase said. “The candid, awkward, inspiring, excited moments you can’t really plan for. So keep that camera out and don’t be afraid to snap candid captures along the way.”

Elisabeth Brentano: Talk to locals

“If you want to come home with a truly memorable photo, treat it like a piece of art and take your time,” Brentano said.

Like Yamase, Brentano said it’s crucial you take a few minutes to walk around an area to find the perfect composition. “Don’t be afraid to come back again and try for better light, if you have that option,” she said.

Brentano explained that when you’re not rushed, you have time to think and try new things with your photography. “You can still shoot the same spots as everyone else, but try to put your own creative spin on it, whether you’re shooting or editing.”

Brentano added that searching for a unique foreground element, like flowers or rocks, will add impressive depth to your photo. Moreover, she said, don’t be afraid to do a bit of research or ask around with the locals about amazing sunrise and sunset spots. “Your efforts will almost always be rewarded,” she said.

And if you want a photo of yourself but there is no one around to help, be sure to master the art of the tripod selfie. “You can easily set a 10-second timer on most cameras, and don’t be afraid to give it a few tries — I’m certainly not a one-take wonder.”

For more advice on taking the perfect vacation snapshot check out our guide to photographing sunsets here.

Travelling is considered one of the best ways to explore yourself and discover the beauty of the world. With traveling. One creates memories that remain forever in our minds as well as in the captured photographs. Travelling is one of the best opportunities to show your skill in travel photography.

How to take good travel photos

The problem arises when those boatloads of vacation photos that you snapped end up going nowhere other than maybe scattered on Facebook, Instagram, or taking up space in your smartphones or your personal cameras. In this busy world, it is rare enough to get time to go back to those pictures and recall the memories one by one. Everyone wishes to find one or the other way by which these photos always remain alive.

If it is familiar to you, then you are in the right place. Here are ten smart ways to actually make use of your travel photos that can help you get started.

1. Get the Prints on photo albums or scrapbooks.

The beauty of Some of the photos is visible only when they’re physically printed in a book form. Give a try and Consider putting them together on your top vacation photos and getting them printed on the photo book or a scrapbook or anything where you wish you can physically display it.

You can sync your Instagram and Facebook pics into a book design by printing them. These could be handy to carry and at the same time can store your all beautiful memory in one. If you are DIY-inclined, go for batch photo prints. You can individually stick them in an album or scrapbooks.

2. Go for a map shaped photo frame.

If you wish to try something new and different, you may go for a map-shaped photo frame. It is simple and beautiful too. All you need is to purchase a large map, stick it onto a board, and cut special photographs.

Make sure that they are the exact same shape as the states. The result is a personalized map/photo display mashup that advocates documenting all the different places you’ve been through. Hang all of it on a wall and enjoy and cherish!

3. Create an online slideshow or a screensaver.

If you want to present your photographs digitally, you can opt for slideshows. You have to upload your favorite pics on an online slideshow, set some beautiful themes and background music, and share or download it.

You can also select the pics and put them on a screensaver slideshow or desktop backgrounds for your laptop or cell phone.

4. Give your photos a wall art.

It’s not possible each time to capture some of your very best travel photos being on vacation. Whether it’s a great family photo, friend reunion, or a stunning landscape, there’s always a photo or two in your albums that are print-worthy. So why not use one as actual prints?!

How to take good travel photos

Canvas prints make it easy and affordable for one who dreams of one such live print. They provide free digital proofs for you to approve before they are taken for printing. They provide different color collections and high-quality materials that help to get ready to hang and quality efficient products. You also have print material options, including traditional photo prints, canvas, metal prints, or wood.

5. Create some custom postage stamps

Postage stamps can give a beautiful touch to your pictures. The postal stamps are real and are licensed by the United States Postal Service. It is very easy to make your own postage stamps.

Pick the picture you like best, go to the stamp-making page on a website, and select the option to create stamps. Just upload a photo, usually as a jpg file in an appropriate size. Once you get satisfied with your custom-stamp preview, proceed to the order page.

You can have your personalized stamps in a variety of sizes and with different costs. Most vendors offer a collection of stock images, which can give you an idea for your stamps. You can opt for your own logos and graphics as per your wish to create postage and envelopes along with postcards — which can come in handy for wedding announcements, family reunions, and other events.

6. A blog post can work as a good idea.

One of the best ways to recollect your vacation is to make a blog post that, at a time, may provide more context by combining photos with stories and words. You can use multiple online platforms to create free blogs.

WordPress or Adobe spark can be a good option for you to make a blog post without having much prior knowledge easily. You can give words to your pictures and beautifully share your experience with others. It is a quick, easy, and ‘free’ to use method and lets you show off your writing and photography skills.

7. Create your own custom greeting cards or thank you cards

It is often that your vacation will fall on some festive occasions or get together when you receive gifts from friends or family. This is the perfect opportunity for one to create unique thank you cards or greetings cards using your own vacation photos. Also, consider creating funny postcards to send to friends and family as a recap of your journey.

How to take good travel photos

If you’re someone who is a professional or aspiring photographer, you can also use these postcards in the form of a business card, handing them to those curious passersby who want to know where they could find more of your work.

8. Print your photos on cushions, cups, or on anything you wish.

You can give stylish looks to your accessories by customizing them with your favorite photo collection. You can add it to your shoes, bottles, coffee mugs, bags, personal favorite curtains, and many more.

You can add the photos on your clothing too, such as on the pair of leggings, t-shirts, scarfs, etc. You can check any printing platform and the choice of prints you want to see on your stuff. It is easy to use and also budget-friendly.

9. Place the photos on the wall and decorate it with light.

You can beautifully decorate your photos on the walls of your bedroom or maybe living room by putting some colorful lights. You can also Wrap shells, stones, or other souvenirs in wire to make custom photo holders. Along with this, you can tie your photos to the clipboards and decorate them with some colorful wools.

10. Play with coins and photos

You can turn your coin collection into magnets and display it on the fridge or cupboards. You can also make coin collections of different countries along with the country’s picture and put it as a frame.

How to take good travel photos

Whether you want to document a family holiday or aspire to shoot for National Geographic, there are some simple things you can do to take better travel photos.

What Makes a Good Travel Photo

A good travel photo is about a place or event, or even a small aspect of a place or event like the people or the food. It captures the feeling the photographer had when they were there. Maybe it captures the history of a city, the tranquility of an almost deserted island, some tiny detail that’s exclusive to the area where you are, or even just your friends and family relaxed and having fun.

How to take good travel photos

Travel photography is a really broad style. When you shoot, you might be combining elements of portraiture, landscape photography, street photography, sports photography and many other disciplines. The best travel photos rarely stand on their own, they’re normally part of a small series of related images. All the photos in this article come from a trip I made to New Orleans.

The Technical Stuff

Travel photography is often unpredictable. You’re walking around a new city, camera in hand, and something happens. Some combination of light and subject create a wonderful moment you need to capture. Your camera needs to be ready for this.

First, you need to select an appropriate lens. Although a telephoto lens can take great sports photos and portraits, it’s unwieldy for travel photography. You need something with a wider angle. The traditional focal length for this kind of photography is 35mm on a full frame camera (about 22mm on a APS-C camera), although anything between about 16mm and 50mm can work. Fortunately, the kit lens that comes with most cameras covers a lot of this range and smartphone cameras generally have the equivalent of a 35mm prime, so there’re no excuses for not having the right gear.

How to take good travel photos

For the camera settings, we once again turn to the always reliable aperture priority mode. Arthur “Weegee” Fellig famously said—at least supposedly—that the secret to good street photography was “f/8 and be there.” In other words, if your aperture is set to f/8, all that’s required from you is to be in the right location to press the shutter button and you’ll capture almost any moment. It’s just up to you to find the moments and locations worth capturing.

With that in mind, set your aperture to f/8, turn on autofocus, and set your ISO to around 400 (this guarantees a fast enough shutter speed for any daylight shoots).

If you’re working in low light you’ll need to compromise on these settings a bit. Check out our guides on taking good photos at night and taking good sunset photos. Find the balance between the three guides that works best for your situation.

How to take good travel photos

Other Tips and Tricks

There are two main kinds of travel photography: the type where you wander around experiencing the location, taking photos as you go, and the type where you go out with a specific shot, or series of shots in mind. Neither is inherently better, and you should switch between them. Spend your first day or two wandering aimlessly, and once you’ve got the lay of the land and found a shot or two you want to take, go out and do it.

How to take good travel photos

You can also scout locations in advance. Use things like Flickr, Google Maps, and Instagram to work out where there are good photos to be had. Just be careful about capturing the same images as everyone else. You need to put your own unique spin on things if you want your images to stand out.

Even when you’re on your wanderings, one of the best ways to get great travel photos is to find an awesome location and just wait for something to happen. Maybe someone will wander by doing something interesting, or perhaps a dog will run through the scene. Whatever happens, if you’ve got a great location, you should be able to take a great image.

How to take good travel photos

As I mentioned earlier, good travel photos rarely stand on their own—they’re part of a series. Don’t try and capture the one perfect photo; instead, use it as an opportunity to create eight or ten or thirty related photos that stand together to fully capture the spirit of a place.

How to take good travel photos

Weegee’s “f/8 and be there” is a really powerful rule for a lot of different styles of photography, but you should always be willing to break it. If you need a faster shutter speed or shallow depth of field for a portrait, widen your aperture up to f/3.5 or f/1.8. If you want more depth of field, tighten it down to f/16. Great travel photographers are able to adapt on the go.

How to take good travel photos

One major concern with travel photography is weight. It’s tiring to lug around a heavy camera, four lenses and a tripod. If all your camera gear won’t fit in your carry-on baggage, it could get damaged in the cargo hold if you’re flying to your location. You should travel as light as possible. Any time I’m going somewhere with my camera, I bring two lenses: a Canon 17-40 f/4L for almost everything and a Canon 85mm f/1.8 for portraits and sports. In truth, the 17-40 rarely ever leaves my camera. Find a lens that works for you and just stick with it. It might be a 24-70 or even a 35mm prime lens, but travel photography is much easier if you’re not fussing about changing lenses.

How to take good travel photos

Robert Capa, a Hungarian war photographer who landed with the first wave on Omaha Beach, claimed that, “if your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.” When you’re taking travel photos, you should be in the thick of things, experiencing them. Standing back, shooting from afar doesn’t work. It’s one of the main reasons I use such a wide lens: it lets me get really close. If your images just aren’t working, try going with a wider lens and getting more involved with what’s going on.

How to take good travel photos

If you’re documenting the same group of people—like your family or friends—for an entire trip, get your camera out early and keep it out. After a couple of hours of you constantly shooting, they’ll be so used to the camera that they won’t even think about it. This is when you’ll get your most natural travel photos. Candid photos work so much better than staged ones.

Travel photography covers a lot, from dedicated photo trips to far off cities to family vacations to a near by beach. Whatever the situation, the keys to great photos remain the same: be a part of things, and be ready for anything.

How to take good travel photos

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When life events knock you down, looking to the stars may give you a new perspective. It reminds you how small we are and how easy it is to find a diversion with your old friend, the camera.

It doesn’t take a lot of expensive equipment to take good photos of the heavens. Astrophotography can involve equipment as simple as a DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) camera with an ISO (International Organization for Standardization) rating of at least 1600 (the higher the number, the more sensitive to light it is).

Besides the camera, your equipment should include a sturdy tripod and a lens with an aperture (f-stop) opening of f/2.8 or higher.. The lower the f-stop the more light flows into the camera.

The size of the lens is also important. If you want a wide view with lots of foreground and more sky you should choose a 14 mm, 16 mm, 20 mm or 35 mm lens. If you want to take pictures of the moon, you will need a lens in the range of 200 mm to 600 mm.

Now find your location and attach your camera to the tripod. Switch off your automatic settings and find either the bulb or manual setting, which allows you to leave open the shutter for long exposures. The manual setting on most cameras will allow exposures of up to 30 seconds. Adjust your aperture to the maximum opening (the smaller numbers). Also, turn off the autofocus feature.

How to take good travel photos

Your training wheels are gone now that you’ve turned off the automatic settings, and you can begin to experiment with your camera’s manual adjustments. Start by manually focusing your lens to infinity and setting the ISO to 1600.

If your camera allows, adjust your shutter speed for an exposure of 15 to 30 seconds. Remember that Earth is rotating, so stars can appear to be “streaking” with exposures of 30 seconds.

Adjust your camera’s image quality setting to RAW mode, which enables the highest-quality picture. Processing the pictures in RAW mode — using Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Lightroom or other post-production tools — provides better color and contrast control.

There are apps for everything, including astrophotography. Raul Roa, an avid astrophotographer, suggests the Planets app, which gives precise locations and times for viewing Polaris, the Milky Way and other celestial objects. Roa also uses the Sun Surveyor app, which shows where and when the Milky Way will rise, which is useful in planning your trips or locations.

How to take good travel photos

There are many benefits to using your phone to take photos while traveling. First of all, you won’t have extra equipment to pack; chances are, you’re already bringing your phone. It’s always with you during the day, and thanks to excellent technology, your phone probably comes packed with features better than or at least equal to those on your point-and-shoot camera. Your phone is portable, and with the right case, it can be waterproof and dust-proof, which is crucial for some travel spots.

How to take good travel photos

You don’t have to be a photography expert to take great travel photos with your phone, but it does help to keep some basic photography techniques in mind. If you don’t remember anything else, remember that a great travel photo tells a story, showcases a subject (whether it’s an object or person), and captures a moment in time. To achieve these goals, follow these basic photography rules.

Rule of thirds: Turn on your camera’s grid feature, which will show you a nine-square grid overlaying your framed shot. Use this grid to frame your subject proportionally. Place your primary subject in the middle three squares of your grid, or try an off-centered subject for an eye-catching effect.

Place that sun behind you: Sunshine is lovely, but when you take a photo directly into the sun, your photo will be washed out, and you’ll lose the detail of your subject(s). Especially when you’re taking photos of other people, place the sun at your back. Yes, your subjects will be tempted to squint as they’ll be looking into the sun, so suggest they close their eyes, count to three, and then open them for the photo!

Pay attention to exposure: Many people don’t realize that they can adjust the lighting of a shot with one touch on a phone. Tap and press on the subject of your photo to make sure the shot is properly exposed before taking it. You’ll see the lighting adjust on your screen.

Go horizontal: Most of the time, you should get in the habit of taking horizontal photos. Video should always be horizontal, not vertical. Why? Horizontal videos use the most screen space when you show your work on a computer or TV screen. Vertical videos will appear as just one strip of the screen.

Get to know your flash setting and when to use it: Placing your flash on auto will work most of the time, but in low light, indoors, and in fully dark settings, play with your flash to get your desired result. If you’re taking a selfie in the dark, such as in a nightclub or at a concert, turn on a flashlight app if you don’t have a front-facing flash (which can be the case with older phones).

How to take good travel photos

Now that you know how to use your settings, it’s time to make your travel photos more interesting. Remember how every travel photo should tell a story, focus on a subject, and capture a point in time? It’s easy to do that with your phone on any vacation, whether it’s a bucket list-worthy trip or a road trip to grandma’s.

Start by getting new angles. Your phone is mobile, so make yourself mobile too! Get down on the ground to take a shot from below your subject, or get elevated to get an overhead angle. Notice the shot everyone around you is taking, and do something different. If everyone is taking a long-range photo of a mountain, focus your shot on the trail leading up to it or the trees in the foreground, for instance.

When you’re taking photos of people, shots of smiling groups are nice, but they’re nothing remarkable. Focus on emotion instead. Try to capture a laugh, an expression of joy or surprise, or a look of wonder on the faces of your subjects. The best way to do this is to have your phone ready to shoot as your friends and family discover new experiences or see a new sight.

Last, to use your phone camera to its fullest, don’t forget to try your high dynamic range (HDR) setting. This setting can feel intimidating to those who rely on auto settings on their cameras, but it can greatly enhance your travel photos. Your HDR setting will help you properly expose your photo much better than simply pressing a finger on the screen to adjust the lighting. This is because doing so only adjusts the subject, and it can over- or underexpose the background. In your HDR setting, your phone is essentially taking three photos for every one and then layering them for ideal lighting. However, this means it takes longer to take the shot, so you need to hold the camera still.

To make sure your HDR setting is being used to the fullest, use a tripod or brace your elbows on a ledge or table when shooting. Your subjects need to hold still as well. For this reason, I only turn off HDR when I’m shooting wildlife that will not cooperate or when I cannot hold the camera steady (such as when I’m on in a moving boat).

No matter which settings you use and how many of the rules of photography you remember, the most important thing when taking travel photos with your phone is to take them! Have your phone at the ready and take lots of shots!

Caroline Morse Teel

Caroline Morse Teel is the Managing Editor for SmarterTravel Media. Follow her on Instagram @TravelWithCaroline.

Caroline joined Boston-based SmarterTravel in 2011 after living in Ireland, London, and Manhattan. She’s traveled to all seven continents, jumped out of planes, and bungeed off bridges in the pursuit of a good story. She loves exploring off-the-beaten path destinations, anything outdoorsy, and all things adventure.

Her stories have also appeared online at USA Today, Business Insider, Huffington Post, Yahoo,, TripAdvisor, Buzzfeed, Jetsetter, Oyster, Airfarewatchdog, and others.

The Handy Item I Always Pack: “Earplugs. A good pair has saved my sleep and sanity many times!”

Ultimate Bucket List Experience: Hiking Mount Kilimanjaro.

Travel Motto: “Don’t be boring.”

Aisle, Window, or Middle Seat: “Aisle (when the first class private suite isn’t available).”

Want more expert tips and vacation inspiration? Subscribe to SmarterTravel on YouTube!

After paying $15 to have an awkward photo shoot in a CVS aisle, only to have my passport photos rejected twice—once for being too dark and once for being too bright—I decided there had to be a way to take your own passport photo. As it turns out, snapping your own passport photo is easier, cheaper, and much more convenient than going to a “professional” (a.k.a., the cashier at your local drugstore).

Websites to Help You Take Your Own Passport Photo

As the setting sun drifts toward the horizon and sets the evening sky ablaze in orange, red, purple, and pink, it’s only natural to want to share this gorgeous sight with the world. So our first reaction is to pick up our phones, aim right at that big ball of fire in the sky, and snap a photo we think is worthy of the world’s attention.

And that’s why it’s no surprise that more than 143 million photos exist on Instagram under #sunset.

While sunsets will always be inspiring, the photos we take rarely do them justice. But on a recent trip to Havana, Cuba, Travel + Leisure sat down with Josh Haftel, product manager for Lightroom Mobile by Adobe, just as the sun went down over the sea to learn a few incredibly simple tips to help our sunset snaps shine on social media.

Know where the sun is going to set.

Haftel’s first tip may be the most important: “Know where the sun is going to set.”

And sure, it may seem obvious where the sun will go down, however, knowing the exact path may help you snap an even more remarkable photo.

Haftel says he uses an app called PhotoPills, which uses augmented reality to show you the sun’s specific path. This can help photographers position themselves in the ideal spot.

Scout out your ideal location.

“Do a little bit of scouting,” Haftel said. “Either while you’re there, just go to the location beforehand, or just use something like Flickr or Instagram to see the location.”

By checking out what others have created, you can pick your favorite spot, angle, or feeling to capture.

Scouting out a location is also key to composing a great shot. This means ensuring there is a “main subject” in your shot, other than the sun, giving viewers something to linger on and for the sun’s rays to reflect off of in the shot. For us, that something was a simple lighthouse jutting off the boardwalk in Havana. For you, it could be a building, a person, or any object your heart desires.

Also try to keep in mind the magical photography tip known as “the rule of thirds.” This means the main action shouldn’t be taking place in the center of your shot, but rather off to the side, bottom, or top of your image. Practice this rule by turning on your phone’s gridlines.

Understand that bad weather may be good for your photo.

“If you’re going to have clouds, you’re going to have a good sunset,” says Haftel. “If there’s not going to be any clouds, go home.”

Even incredibly inclement weather could be good for your shot. “If it’s going to rain, maybe wait, just in case there’s going to be a break,” Haftel said.

And no, Haftel isn’t hoping bad weather ruins your vacation, but rather he understands that the slowly waning light of day will reflect off all those light, fluffy clouds lining the horizon. And when they do, that light will appear in all those fiery and magical colors we love to swoon over.

Without them a sunset can be a bit drab, so if it’s a perfectly clear evening, go enjoy another vacation activity and wait for the clouds to roll in.

Ed Hewitt

Ed Hewitt started traveling with his family at the age of 10 and has since visited dozens of countries on six continents. He wrote for for more than 20 years, producing hundreds of columns on travel and offering his expertise on radio and television. He is now a regular contributor to SmarterTravel.

An avid surfer and rower, Ed has written about and photographed rowing competitions around the world, including the last five Olympic Games.

He’s passing his love of travel on to the next generation; his 10-year-old son has flown some 200,000 miles already.

It wasn’t that long ago that many travel photos were taken, developed and then dumped into boxes, rarely to be seen again — unless a basement flood forced someone to throw them all away. These days, things aren’t so different except that now the photos get dumped onto external hard drives, perhaps to await a hard drive crash instead of the proverbial basement flood.

But in most collections of vacation and travel photos, a precious few of the very best shots are often spared this fate — those photos that are somehow more enduring or more interesting, or (I think most importantly) that best capture the spirit and sensation of the trip. What is it that keeps these photos from the dustbin of our traveling history? Often they are simply better photographs. That is, the “keeper” photo isn’t of a favorite person, place or activity — it is better composed, better lit and thus simply more visually interesting than the run-of-the-mill vacation snapshot.

There are plenty of resources out there for folks with thousands of dollars of photographic equipment, but what about the rest of us — those of us with a point-and-shoot digital camera or even simply a smartphone? What can we do to get better travel photos? Following is a collection of low- and no-tech tips to help you improve your keeper count on your next trip.

Taking great pictures of your vacation can be easy if you have a few basic photography skills. In this article, you will find seven travel photography tips that will help you take fantastic pictures that you’ll enjoy for years to come.

How to take good travel photos

Photo by Arian Zwegers; ISO 100, f/11.0, 1/125-second exposure.

1. Add Drama to Your Pictures

By adding drama to your pictures, you make them more interesting and visually appealing. If you want to add drama to your pictures, one way is to show scale. You can do this by adding people or natural features to your photographs of big things like monuments, landscapes, or the world’s biggest Redwood.

Photo by jpellgen; ISO 200, f/10.0, 1/400-second exposure.

2. Clean up the Clutter

When you’re seeing exciting new things, it’s easy to ignore the background. But before you hit the shutter release button, look at what you’re really photographing. In some cases, moving a few feet could eliminate unwanted clutter like power lines, billboards, or people walking through your picture.

How to take good travel photos

Photo by inefekt69; ISO 4000, f/1.8, 1/125-second exposure.

3. Photograph the Locals

No matter where you are traveling in the world, learn how to say some basic things like, “May I please take your picture?” in the local language. Offer to send those you photograph a copy; make sure to have a small notebook or pencil to jot down names, addresses, or emails.

Photo by Alberto Lama Photography; ISO 200, f/2.8, 1/3200-second exposure.

4. Look for Unique and Candid Photos

Candid shots when traveling are the best, but occasional portraits of the family in front of spectacular views and famous landmarks are part of almost every vacation album. Don’t forget to get in the vacation pictures too by using the self timer or remote shutter.

How to take good travel photos

Always take pictures of things that interest you instead of taking pictures of things “you have to take”—like those shown on postcards in the gift store. You can always pick up some postcards to add to your vacation souvenirs. Unique subjects make great travel pictures, so look out for these opportunities.

Photo by Theophilos Papadopoulos; ISO 200, f/7.1, 1/100-second exposure.

5. Remember That Every Photo Has a Story

You may want to tell your vacation story by using your photographs from the time you departed to your return home, so make sure to capture these moments, too. Include highlights like your campground neighbors, an unusual meal you had, activities, the look on a family member’s face when he or she saw something for the first time. Once you get home and look at all of the pictures, select those pictures that best reflect your trip and frame them on your wall to remember.

How to take good travel photos

Photo by Rosanetur; ISO 200, f/5.6, 1/1000-second exposure.

6. Get the Kids in on the Act

If you are traveling with children, give each child a camera and encourage them to take pictures, too.

Photo by Modes Rodríguez; ISO 200, f/1.4, 1/1100-second exposure.

Then when you return home you can create a fun photo album to remember your vacation. While on your vacation, make sure to make notes so you can later add captions to your photos.

7. Be Aware of Camera Logistics

If you’re going to be near or in the ocean, bring a waterproof camera. Watch out for salt water and sand as they can wreak havoc on your camera.

Remember that not every picture will turn out well; even the seasoned photographer take bad pictures from time to time. The best solution is to bring extra memory cards and have a way to upload your photos each day while you’re away.

And don’t forget to prepare your camera for the next day by recharging the batteries and replacing the memory card. By doing this, you’ll be ready to go in the morning!

As you can see, taking great travel and vacation pictures can be a lot of fun and relatively easy just by following these seven tips. By the time you return home you will have a lot of fantastic pictures to share with your friends and family.

About the Author:
Autumn Lockwood is a writer for Your Picture Frames ( and loves taking pictures. Your Picture Frames makes it easy for you to find just the perfect frame for your photo or artwork.

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