Ten Steps to Your Best Travel Photography (Part 1)

Travel photography

I have been interested in photography since forever. Often, I just go out and start walking up the mountains to find the perfect landscape to shoot at. For many years, I have been learning and practicing to improve my shots. And there are some tips that I have learned so far. Of the following, some are just tips to choose the composition, while others will be more technical. In any case, most of them can improve any photography, and some others only apply for travel shooting. Even though I will speak about what’s the best photography gear to carry in your trips, if you have a DSLR, a couple of lenses (a fast automatic one and a wide-angle lens), are enough.

Anyhow, here are my ten golden rules!

The rule of the thirds

The Big Bang - Photography Tips, Trucos de Fotografía
I think I can say that this is the most important rule of photography composition out there. You can find it in any manual or guide. It is very simple and it is a nice way to improve any picture.

This rule says that the natural focus of interest of the eye doesn’t go to the center of the picture but to one of the thirds lines. These lines are the ones dividing the picture in three equal parts vertically and horizontally. The focus of interest in the picture should fall on these lines, ideally where they cross.

Even though it seems like nothing special, pictures taken with this simple rule in mind, are much more attractive.

Lines and angles

Fisherman's bastion, Budapest - Photography tips, Trucos de Fotografía

This rule applies to those picture where lines are involved. Like when you take a picture of a street, a road, or to some trains. The best way to get someone in the picture is to match the lines with the corners of the photography. This gives much more depth to the picture and it makes it more interesting. And it’s very simple!

Horizons

Photography Tips, Trucos de fotografía
Regarding horizons, there’s a general rule about composition and my own consideration.

Usually, when you are taking a picture of the horizon, this must fall right into one of the thirds line (yep, back at them). Meaning: we either have two thirds of ground/sea or we have two thirds of sky. It all depends on what’s the important part. If we are witnessing an amazing sunset, go and make the sky shine. If you want to shoot at an amazing lake, with the small hills and the cows… well, you know what should have the two thirds…

After that, my personal recommendation will seem stupid. But it is only to make sure that the horizon line is parallel to the bottom of the picture. That it is not falling to the right or left. It’s a tiny thing, but correcting three degrees can change completely a photography!

Natural frames

Fisherman's Bastion, Budapest - Photography Tricks, Trucos de fotografía
Often, it is possible to find a nice frame for whatever we want to shoot. It can be a group of trees. Or that nice stone arch. Or just the window curtains. In any case, it is always a good idea to use these natural frames to give more concept to the picture. More information about where we are and how we were included in the photography.

Change the point of view

Funny Duck - Photography Tricks, Trucos de fotografía
Most of the pictures we shoot will be taken from the same point of view: at eye level. If you are short (like moi), it will all look bigger. If you are tall, everything will seem tiny. In any case, taking all your pictures at the same level can be a bit boring. A nice option can be to try and shoot while sitting on the floor. One example. Also, if you are trying to shoot at children or animals, get at their high (if possible), and shoot from there. The picture will be funnier and better.

To avoid making an extra-long article, I have divided this list in two posts. You can find the second part here.
Travel Photography, Fotografía de viaje

49 Comments

  1. Great tips! Especially the lines! So many times I noticed too late that my photos were a bit off centred (especially archways) and was totally bummed about it.

  2. I can’t wait to read the second part and I am already worrying because I will be travelling and I’m afraid I might miss it! The thi g is I knew the rules, But you are so clear with your explanations and your pictures are so self-explanatory themselves that it’s easier to meep things in mind… You know what? I’ll subscribe 😉

  3. All good points and I use them every day in my photography. The only rule that you seemed to miss for me was to “Get High”. That is the best way to get the more unique shots though it is not always an option. Thanks for the post was very informative.

    • Thank you for passing by. These are only 5 out of 10, so it could be in the remaining 5…. but it is not hehe. I personally don’t think of the “Get High” as a rule, is more like, if you are in a place where you can have a nice landscape, go for it, your views will be nicer, but it is not something that will improve the picture per se. Anyway, thanks a lot for your contribution!

      • I read about your trip to Berlin on your website. Eventually you will read about our trip to Mongolia and see some pics there. I would love to have you check out our online portfolio if you are interested.

      • I just did! your pictures from Mongolia seem very nice. I would personally cut a finger below the dunes and the last picture to match the corners, but they show amazing landscapes…! Also, congrats on the funny pictures you have on the Portfolio. You have travelled a lot!

  4. I’m glad you are subscribing! My plan is to publish the second part tomorrow, but I am not sure if I will have time to translate the full post. Anyway, I am happy you liked them!

  5. Photography is such an integral part of travel. The more we travel, the more acutely we become aware of this fact…and we keep improving with practice. Very useful and informative post.

  6. These are some really great tips! I’d never thought of keeping to the rule of thirds when shooting horizons! Will definitely be trying that one in future! Look forward to part two 🙂

  7. I love taking photos and have been told I have a good eye. Will be putting intp practise the tips you shared in this blog post. I will be back to read this post several times.

  8. Thanks for these wonderful tips! I’m always trying to get better, so these were really helpful xx

  9. We find your points of having the Horizon line parallel to the photo and matching lines with corners of the photography though simple very crucial for a striking capture. You have some awesome points we weren’t aware of, thanks for sharing with us.

    • Yes, many of these little rules are obvious things that if you don’t think about you just obviate. But that once you follow them the pictures get so much better…! And check out the last half of photography tips if you haven’t! They are bit more technical, but also very interesting!

  10. I love taking photos during my trips, however I end up not liking most of them most of the time. I’ve always wanted to learn something more about photography and camera functions, in order to get better pictures, but I’m such a procrastinator I never took the time to follow any course online. Your tips helped me a lot, though, and I’m surely going to keep them in mind for the next time I travel! 🙂

    P.S. I took the exact same photo in Budapest! (Mine looks a lot worse though hahah)

    • Well, as for everything, the best way to get better is practise. Just take the camera and go out there and enjoy. At the beginning is complicated but with every shot you remember more and more of these tips and the pictures get better. Also, I usually take around 300-600 pictures a day, and I end up really liking about 10% of them. The best part of digital cameras is just that, you can shoot 20.000 pictures and then just discard the ones you don’t like!
      And wasn’t the Fisherman’s Bastion beautiful? I think that everybody who’s gone to Budapest have the same picture though =)

  11. Those are some pretty basic rules that we tend to miss out in a frenzy to capture all that we want. I too, needed a reminder and this post did just that. Thanks for the same.

  12. Well explained, I shall send this to my boyfriend that still struggles at times. Mostly with his horizon lines! Oh painful… haha

    http://www.adventurefaktory.com

  13. I always say that in order to take good photos you need to have a creative mind. Be an artist. Yes, you can teach yourself rules, but you still need to have that creativity in you in order to not just take a photo, but create a piece of art. 🙂

    • Sometimes you just want to have a picture that looks good and reminds you of that great time you have there. Sometimes I go out there and try to be artistic, but I think that artistic photography and travel photography are something completely different =p

  14. These are some great travel photography tips that I use. although most of the time I stick to the Rule of Thirds but at times, the frame has a different look if the object is placed in the middle. though this happens rarely, but it does happen at times. I also look for doors and windows to take nice shots parallel to your point of natural frames. 🙂

  15. Hello Jenn,

    Oh I need these guide! I know that I need to learn more to make my photos looks good (or great) for my articles. Thanks you!!!

    Urban Womenhttp://www.forurbanwomen.com“>For Urban Women

  16. Loved this post: although the rule of thirds is really helpful in the beginning, sometimes it’s nice to ‘break the rules’ and changing the point of view does just that! The duck photo is so cute!

  17. Thanks Cod for the Lightroom and its power of straightening! haha

  18. Thanks for these useful tips. I have been looking to improve my photography skills these days and I am constantly on the lookout for suggestions like these. I will checkout the second part of this post too. Thank you again 🙂

  19. Honestly travel is what brought the true photographer out of me in the first place. Such a comprehensive guide to things many amateurs wouldn’t even consider (I always used to center my subjects before learning the rule of thirds😁)

    • It was something similar to me, now I no longer can watch something and not think, yes, this or that would make the perfect composition for a picture…! And I think everybody centers the subjects at some point of their photographic life hehehe

  20. Some great tips shared! I’m working on improving my photography skills and thanks for sharing these helpful tips. I’ll try to incorporate your tips in my photography!

  21. These are some great tips! I would also add that we should always keep a parallel line with the margin of the picture. I love the tip about the natural frame and I must admit I never thought about it. Great job!

  22. Great tips !! I will surely follow these tips to improve my photography skills

    • thesolivagantsoul@gmail.com

      You should try them! it’s just a combination of small things that can make an overall great picture!

  23. Awesome tips and the pictures accompanying them are perfect!

  24. Thanks for the fantastic tips! I’m such a hit-or-miss photographer and I tend to get caught up in the moments sometimes and not pay attention to the things that will make my photo better.

    • thesolivagantsoul@gmail.com

      Well, for me it was after reading a lot and posting in plenty of forums about photography that I started to check all these things automatically. It takes a little bit of time to assimilate everything, but once you have it is so worth it…!

  25. These are great tips! I am really good at underwater photography while scuba diving. But then put me on land and my photos turn out terrible! You wouldn’t think it would be so different, but is it! Thanks for the help!

    • thesolivagantsoul@gmail.com

      Wow! I have never tried underwater photography! How do you make your shots stand up? Do you have a post about it? I would love to learn more!

  26. Was that the 50 mm lens you took the picture of the duck with, I love the depth of field! Some good tips here about natural frames, your example certainly made a unique Budapest shot! The tip about cutting your pics into thirds is important too!

    • thesolivagantsoul@gmail.com

      Actually the duck photo was taken with a teleobjective from a pretty close distance! It was challenging because my long lens is automatic, but I loved the effect! And thank you for your comments! I am glad you enjoyed my tips!

  27. thesolivagantsoul@gmail.com

    I am glad you like them! It took me a bit of time to learn all these, but it was well worth it!

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