In the age of Instagram, photos have taken a more central role in our lives in a previously unprecedented way. Whether it’s a casual selfie or a professional shoot, photos capture special moments in our lives and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to share those moments with our friends and the world at large. In fact, the 2014 annual Internet Trends’ report by Mary Meeker showed that people uploaded an average of 1.8 billion photos every day. However, do not mistake quantity for quality. Especially for all you travel enthusiasts out there, it’s time you learned how to take amazing photos on your travels like a real pro. It’s only fair to the places you visit that they’re presented true to their beauty.
1. ALL YOU NEED IS YOUR PHONE
I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume that anyone reading this probably owns a smartphone and that it has a camera. That’s all you need to take amazing pictures on your travels. No need to invest in expensive camera equipment. Not only does it hurt your finances but imagine walking along a scenic beach with a tripod stand and a heavy backpack in the hope of taking a few photos of yourself at said beach. Furthermore, carrying around such equipment can make you a target of theft in some parts of the world.
Smartphones come with good enough cameras to take breathtaking pictures and even do some post editing for that extra piece of quality. If in doubt, the tips that follow will help you get the best out of your phone’s camera and take amazing photos on your travels.
2. RESEARCH YOUR DESTINATION BEFOREHAND
While planning your trip you have to have it in your mind that you are going to take lots of photos. Therefore, get online and research some of the best places to visit at your destination. Chances are there are popular landmarks or features fantastic for taking photos. It would be unthinkable to visit Paris for the first time and not take a picture of yourself with the Eiffel Tower in the background. As a travel enthusiast, you probably follow famous travel bloggers and vloggers. See if any one of them has visited the destination you plan on visiting and see some of the pictures they took. This gives you ideas for your photo shoots. Looking for some inspiration? Find some at Wanjiru’s World.
3. ASK FOR HELP
If you find a good scenic spot for a photo and want to make yourself the subject of the photo, a selfie probably won’t really capture you and the spot in the best light. A full body shot beneath a waterfall would be impossible without help from someone else. If you are traveling with company it is easy enough to ask your companion to take the picture. That counts as asking for help. However, if you’re traveling alone don’t be shy to ask for help from a local. Most of the time locals are more than happy to help. Furthermore, with smartphones today that perfect shot is literally just a click of the button away. No technical skills required. That means just about anyone can take the picture for you including a local kid.
Do not go back home with only selfies simply because you were to shy to ask for help from the locals.
4. SPEAKING OF LOCALS
Having locals take pictures of you is one thing and taking pictures with locals is another thing. If you want to make your photos more interesting, simply spot an interesting local and ask for a picture with them. Are they wearing a sombrero (those broad-rimmed and high-crowned Mexican hats)? Ask them if you can wear it in your picture. Such a move could make your photos seem like you really engaged with the local culture and people and had a really good time at it. All it takes is stepping out of your comfort zone just a little bit which is probably part of the reason why you are traveling.
This is perhaps the most technical thing about photography in this article and yet it is so light. Lighting is everything in photography. As an illustration, try taking a selfie while facing a window. Now try taking one while facing away from the window. You’ll notice a significant difference in quality between the two photos. Pictures come out better when light falls on the subject of the picture. That simply means that when taking those photos of yourself while traveling make sure your face is lit.
6. TRY AND TRY AGAIN – TAKE MULTIPLE PHOTOS
For that one perfect photo, there are nine more that didn’t make the cut. While taking a specific picture don’t hesitate to take a series of continuous shots and then go through all the pictures and choose the best. If you take a lot of selfies you are probably familiar with this process. This is a tip used even by professional photographers. Nothing comes easy, not even a simple photo.
7. CAPTION CLEVERLY
For those pictures that make it to your Instagram, add a clever caption to trigger people into commenting. It’s not enough that the picture is amazing. Adding a brief description of what’s going on, where you are or who you’re with could spark more interest in the people that see your photo. You will find people commenting, liking and even sharing and we all know how gratifying that is.
8. USE A SUBJECT FOR LANDSCAPE PHOTOS
A panoramic view is breathtaking on its own. However, adding a subject, yourself, into the view and snapping a photo of it adds a bit more depth to the picture. You could be standing on a cliff overlooking a beautiful view of a rocky landscape and thinking of taking a picture of the view. While the picture will not be lackluster by any means, ask someone else to take the picture while your step into the frame. This gives you a transcendent look as you stand atop a cliff overlooking a panoramic view of the mountains yonder.
9. TAKE CLOSE UPS OF SMALL THINGS
There is beauty in detail. If you chance upon a beautiful shell stranded on the white sands of a beach somewhere, before picking it up, take out your camera and focus on the shell capturing as much detail as possible with the sand and the ocean blurred in the background. There is something enigmatic about such pictures and they are bound to trigger emotions in people. It could also be a picture of some tribal bracelets you bought on your escapades. Stretch out your arm and place it on a table, focus on the bracelets and snap away. Such photos are a detour from the convention and can make your photos that much more interesting.
10. DO NOT FORGET TO HAVE FUN
Don’t be too stressed over taking the perfect photos and forget why you’re traveling in the first place. Traveling is meant to be a relaxing and insightful experience. Focus on that. Take lots of selfies and capture random moments with loved ones. Such pictures, as imperfect as they might be, may end up being more precious to you than any other. They are truly a digital copy of the wonderful memories you create on your travels.
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