It’s summer and that means it’s time to travel! With vacations and adventures awaiting you this summer, it’s important to document your travels. There are a few techniques you should keep in mind when packing your suitcase and your camera. We talked with Tracey Heppner of Follow Your Heart Photography Tours to get 5 key tips on successful travel photography.
1. Pack the Right Items
Pack only what you need and what you want to carry. Remember, you probably aren’t going to have help during your travels carrying around your stuff, so less is more!
When I travel, I travel with one main body (Canon 5dm2), a second body (Canon 5d) that I use for backup (or if I’m in a place I don’t want to keep changing lenses I put one on it), a long lens (70-200, 4.0) a wide (16-35, 2.8) and a 50mm, 1.2 mid range lens. Why do I choose those lenses? Well for one, I don’t own a 28-70 anymore. So instead, I bring the wide for scenery and buildings, the long for distance. I use the long for when I like to stay back and document life and the 50mm for great portraits when I really to embrace the culture and its people.
I also pack more than enough memory cards and my Macbook pro with a pocket size hard drive. I have my files copied 3 times. I do it because I like to know that if my laptop got stolen, I still have my hard drive and cards. Or if my hard drive corrupts, I still have my cards and laptop. I cover my bases.
I carry this all in my Lowepro computrekker backpack. It’s compact and it’s in all there. My batteries and chargers fit wonderfully as well as my laptop. It’s the perfect travel bag when I want to be compact. My backpack has traveled everywhere with me – throughout the USA and Canada, all over Italy, Turkey and Germany, and to many islands of the Philippines.
Good shoes are important too! The amount of walking you will do, you want to make sure you have great soles on your feet. Also, don’t forget travel insurance. You always want to bring that, not only for yourself but to cover your gear if anything were to happen.
Study where you are going and be sure to go off the beaten track . When I am on the ground wherever I am traveling, I like to have a good idea of what I want to see and do and leave the rest for wandering and going with the flow.
For example, my first visit to Venice, Italy, I knew I wanted to see San Marco square. I found it on a map, photographed it and then ventured through the back streets. I found more jewels and gems by going off the beaten track than I could have ever imagined.
Each place has its own iconic shots that I want to get. I make notes in a little note pad that I stuff in my bag so I won’t forget. I love lists, so this works well for me. When you shoot these iconic places, try and get different angles and shoot it from a different point of view than what is normally “typical”. You could come up with one of your favorite “postcards” from that city by looking at it in a new light.
I also research the areas and places to see if there are special events and cultural things that are going on that I will be able to photographed and really make my experience in these amazing places unforgettable.
3. Photograph Passionately
Shoot it like you’re never going to shoot there again. I always have in my mind when I’m shooting in different places abroad, “If I don’t ever make it back here again, I want to make sure I have all I can get from my shots.” That sounds like a big order to fill, but if you really document and be journalistic in your approach, it pays off. Try telling a story through some of your photos so that when you get back home you have these images full of life and meaning behind them and you will LOVE them for years to come.
I did this when I was at Oktoberfest in Munich one year; I didn’t know if I would ever be back here. So I put on my 50mm and my wide and away I went, getting in the faces of beer-drinking tourists and locals inside the big beer garden tents and yet capturing the massiveness of these with my wide. I haven’t been back to Munich or Oktoberfest, yet, but I am really happy with how I captured my time there. I didn’t miss anything.
4. Be Friendly
A smile goes a long way. Not only does it allow you to engage the locals and what’s going on around you when you travel, it also allows you to ask permission to take their photo for a portrait.
I have experienced this time and time again. Once in Chinatown in Manila, Philippines I was walking down the street and saw this most adorable old Chinese man vegetable vendor. I knew there was a portrait to be had there. So I started up conversation and we chatted some, I looked at his beautiful vegetables. And then I popped the question: “Picture? You?” At first his smiled and said, “No, no!”. I looked at him with a smile and said, “just one.” And he obliged. One of my favorite photos.
Another time I was in Nagercoil, India, I saw these two beautiful Indian women. They had little English, I smiled lots and played with a baby that another girl had beside them and began shooting photos of the baby. Then I looked at them and said, “Picture?” And their first shot was no smiles. I then smiled at them and encouraged some smiles. Bingo. Another favorite street portrait of mine.
5. Write it Down
Trust me on this one – at the very least, write down the places you stayed at along the way and if you can, make some notes about your day. I have a little “travels” book I bring with me to write the date, place, accommodations, companions and highlights in. I have kept it since 2007 and it is fun to look back and remember.
Facebook and blogs have made documenting our travels and lives so much easier than even 10 years ago. I recommend photographers to blog about their travels. If you have Internet access while traveling, blog one photo a day and write a bit of what you did. Not only will everyone who follows it have something to look forward to, it will help you to remember what you did. You can always do more in-depth posts when you get home.
When I visited Germany & Italy for the first time, I did this – I blogged a little bit each day. My family and friends were able to follow along in my adventure while I was gone. It made it more “real” for them to see a photo or two and a story behind it.
My blog is filled with images and stories, both past and present, meaning there are still photos I haven’t blogged about and written about from years ago that I decide to blog about years after.
When you write about your travels after the fact, you can relive your adventures…it’s like you are there again! But warning – it will also awaken your wanderlust and you will probably in no time be planning your next trip!
Summer is upon us and that means it is a great time to capture lasting memories. Whether you are traveling far for your summer vacation or planning a ‘staycation’ with activities near home there are lots of ways to capture the moment. You don’t need to have an expensive DSLR camera to take great vacation photos. Nowadays your smart phone or point-and-shoot camera can take stunning high-resolution photos.
Far too often we take multiple photos but never print them. This year make it a point to learn how to take great vacation photos. All it takes is a little bit of planning with a purpose to consciously frame the image before you shoot. Before you know it you will have many wonderful moments captured in photos to create your own coffee table vacation album.
Tell a story: When you start your day plan it as if you are telling a story. From the moment you wake up and get your first cup of coffee at the corner café to the moment your head hits the pillow, take shots of the sights around you to remember those fleeting memories.
Don’t forget the details: You may not think details matter but when you recall your vacation it is often the little details that trigger the best memories. What you ate, what the people around you wore, street signs, food, menus, maps, store signs, hotel room numbers, the view from your hotel, all of these seemingly small details complete your vacation story.
Zoom in: One of the most common mistakes people make when taking photos is having too much background and not enough focus on the people. Experiment and try zooming in more than you have in the past to see their facial expression or capture what the person is doing with their hands. If you stumble upon someone making a craft, wrapping up a purchase, or handing you your coffee, snap that photo and capture a memory.
Landscapes: In order to capture the beauty and spirit of your location, this is when you take landscape photos. Of course, people can be in the image but this is when the focus is on the place. When you try to capture the people and the landscape at the same time you may miss getting a good photo of either. For great landscape images be sure to set your aperture between f/8 to f/16. For your smartphone or point-and-shoot choose the landscape setting for the best clarity to capture the horizon, mountains, and foreground.
Turn the flash off: People are often surprised that turning their flash off results in better images than when it is on. This isn’t always the case but these days so many smartphones and point-and-shoot cameras have such high ISOs that even in a dimly lit area the photos capture the mood and lighting better than when a flash is used. Take some test shots with and without the flash. Then determine which photo you prefer. And remember, when taking photos at sunset it is best to turn off the flash.
Iconic shots with a twist: When traveling to places where there are famous landmarks such as the Statue of Liberty, Sydney Opera House or the Golden Gate Bridge try taking it from another perspective. Using the Golden Gate Bridge as an example a hummingbird came into view which became the focus of the photo and the bridge was blurred. When viewed from a different perspective you capture details that show you were standing right next to a landmark and not from a guided bus tour.
Get In the Picture: Too often we forget to get in the photo ourselves. Be sure to get in a few photos even if it means using the self-timer or holding your camera at arms length. When you include even a tiny piece of the location you will be able to prove you were there.
Use a photo editor: Even the best photographers use editing tools. There are several free tools that help brighten, straighten, crop and adjust the colors in your photos. Popular apps such as Instagram also include a variety of filters that create different moods to your photos. Don’t be afraid to check them out. What might have been an otherwise ordinary image can be altered with a photo-editing tool. Free editing tools including Aviary, Picasa, and Microsoft Photo Gallery.
With just a little bit of practice you will be taking stunning photos that capture once-in-a-lifetime memories.
Be sure to check out Adoramapix and create a wonderful keepsake photo book of your summer vacation. The pages are printed on beautiful photographic silver-halide paper with a lustre finish. All Adorampix photo books use real archival quality photo paper for vivid fade-resistant colors and brilliant whites.
Tina Case an Adoramapix Ambassador and is a writer and photographer out of the San Francisco Bay area. She writes co-writes for the photography blog Moms Who Click where she shares photographer tips, tricks and interviews. Tina shares her parenting stories and more on Yahoo! where she is a featured “Parenting Guru.” Check more of her photos at Tina Case Photography, on Facebook and Instagram.
Now that it’s summer it’s time to hit the open road. If you are looking for instagram inspiration, look no further than our top 10 inspiring instagram travel photographers. This list was compiled by the help of our own members and who they follow. These are in no particular order.
First up, one of our favorites is Trey Ratcliff. Trey is a wonderful and inspiring photographer. He shares his passion and experience with other photographers. You may know him from his website called Stuck in Customs – the #1 travel photography blog on the internet. His instagram images are an extension of his blog and you won’t go wrong adding him to your ig feed.
@michaelchristopherbrown blows me away with his behind the scenes look into third world countries and conflict. His images are real and portray courage and strength. His images are a wonderful contrast to those travel images we see that only showcase beautiful surroundings with little to no human element.
According to @KirstenAlana ‘s about section on her website Aviators and a Camera, Kirsten is a photographer, content creator, digital marketer and conference speaker who has built a good portion of her career around experimentation with mobile technology, instructing at offices such as the AOL headquarters, the Apple Store UWS and at conferences like TBEX, TBU, TBE and Traverse. She spent a decade as a professional portrait and wedding photographer before turning her lens to travel. What I love about her ig feed is that even the meals she posts leave me wanting to try these dishes from around the world.
It seems Canadians take our breath away with their travels. @alexstrohl ‘s images draw you in with their leading lines and landscapes. It’s no wonder we check back daily to see what new adventure he is taking us on.
The reason I really love @mevallieres instagram account is that all of her photos are authentically from her iphone. Again, she is the reason for the saying, the best camera is the one you have with you.
According to his bio, @fosterhunting is a nomad surfer who travels the country in his 1986 Volkswagen van. His Instagram photos capture moments from his adventures on the road, building fires at campsites in the Sierras and catching waves in Baja. What’s not to love about living vicariously through his ig feed?
She’s young and Australian and she travels the world and documents it @worldwanderlust. Brooke Saward’s mission is to inspire, inform and intrigue with her travel blog and her instagram account.
Photographer Carin Olsson of @parisinfourmonths left her home to follow her dreams. Originally she was to be in Paris for only four months, however she just couldn’t leave this magical city.
You can follow the adventures of Jill and Kyla of @ourwildabandon. They are based out of Canada but their adventures take us around the world.
Last not but not lease is @jontaylorsweet. I was able to meet Jon in May at a meetup and his generous and amazing spirit is evident in the photos he takes throughout the NorthWest.
Who are some of your favorite instagram travel photographers? Feel free to leave a comment!
-written by Michelle Libby for Adoramapix from suggestions from our members