How to Take The Perfect Travel Photo

We must admit, one of our favourite things about going on holiday is picking out our vacation wardrobe – whether we’re going boho chic in the Maldives, city chic in Milan or surfer babe in California, it’s the perfect excuse to treat ourselves to some beautiful new clothes to fit the beautiful surroundings we’re soon jetting off to.

And of course, after putting so much effort into our holiday wardrobe, we do want to get that perfect picture of us looking stylish in the sunset, on the ski slopes, or by the sea. Luckily the folks over at Ampersand Travel have put together a handy guide to help us get that total #travelgoals Insta pic – not just of our wanderlust inspired outfit but of the scenery, food, animals and everything else we might come across on our travels.


1) Before You Go

Like most things in life, when it comes to taking a good travel picture – preparation is key. If you’re looking to capture some breath-taking pictures of your travels, do some research before you leave to find those picture perfect locations you want to capture. Search on Google maps how to get to your favourite scenic spots from where you’re staying (and download the offline Google map of the area so that you don’t get charged for using your data abroad).

Before you head off on your hols you should also spend some time getting familiar with your camera – whether it’s a DSLR or simply your phone – and get to know all of the different settings. Most importantly, remember to pack your charger and adaptor or you won’t get any photos past day one!


2) Landscapes

When travelling to scenic locations we definitely want the perfect image of the beautiful landscapes, but landscapes can be notoriously difficult to photograph and we often find out photograph doesn’t match the magnificent view in front of our eyes. There are a few things you can do to help you capture more interesting landscape images.

Firstly, take some time looking to capture the perfect image from the best angle – you can’t just point and shoot at whatever’s directly in front of you and expect to capture that wanderlust image. Move around, rotate the camera and try different angles to find what works best – you want to make sure there isn’t too much blank space.

To give your image more depth look for reflections and shadows – it’s also a good idea to incorporate a smaller object at the forefront of your image. You should look to follow the rule of thirds, which is a popular photography technique where you imagine splitting your image into three both horizontally and vertically, the main points of interest in your image should be placed across the intersections of the imaginary lines not within one of the squares. Most cameras and phones now allow you to bring up the rule of third grid on your screen making it even easier to follow.


3) Landmarks and Towns

Of course, one of the main things we want to get images of when travelling is the country’s most famous landmarks and towns – especially if you’re visiting iconic monuments such as the Colosseum or Statue of Liberty. The thing to remember about taking pictures of famous landmarks is that everyone wants to take a picture of them – so if you don’t do something a little bit different you’re going to have the exact same picture as millions of others who have taken that picture before. Avoid this happening by looking for unique vantage points from which to take your picture – perhaps from a side angle rather than just straight on or by using something such as trees or buildings to frame the subject of your image.

When photographing local towns try to capture traditional clothes and cultural dishes and exploring off the beaten path, plus try to catch action shots for an authentic shot. To increase your chances of capturing some great photos, look to stay in a well located apartment with a striking view that you can capture day and night – it will also make for that perfect looking out of the window shot.


4) People and Animals

Whether it’s the people you’re travelling with, your pet, or the local people and wildlife – people and animals make for some of the most engaging and iconic shots.  The most important thing to remember when capturing an effective shot of people or animals is for the images to look natural. Catch people off-guard when they’re laughing, flicking their hair back or chatting; get a great shot of animals while they’re running, jumping or playing – with both people and animals what you really want to catch is emotion.

The best way to capture a natural photo is to have your camera set and ready to go at all times, and keep your eyes open for that perfect opportunity – people and animals can be unpredictable. Remember to pass on these tips to your travel buddy and have them take the perfect picture of you too.


5) The Sun

When we go on holiday we’re usually hoping to enjoy plenty of sun; but while the sun makes for a beautiful day by the pool it can make it extremely difficult to catch a great image. However, if you know how to work with the sun you can actually use it to enhance your pictures. The sun creates shadows and incorporating shadows into your image make for a more interesting image with greater depth.

The sun also allows you to capture some creative images – create a sun flare by taking a picture with the sun shining through a small gap, such as a space between 2 buildings or trees. Another way of capturing an interesting shot in the sun is by shooting towards the sun with your subject’s head or body blocking the sun.


6) Food

From #InstaFood to #FoodPorn, food is one of the most photographed subjects on Instagram, and of course when we’re off on our travels we want to get some great shots of the glorious foods we’re devouring. But if you want your paella to pop in a picture there are some techniques you need to follow. First of all – avoid using flash, it doesn’t bring out the best colours in your food. Instead, sit at a table near a window for natural lighting. Or if you’re eating outside hold your food up against an interesting background – crêpes by the Eiffel Tower anyone?

To ensure your image looks vivid in a photograph, pick food with a variety of colours – a hot dog with tomato ketchup and mustard on it will look far more effective than a plain hot dog.  When it comes to uploading your images online use the native name and description of the food in your caption, Gambas al ajillo sounds much more exotic than garlic prawns.


7) Editing

Of course a lot of taking a great photo comes down to what happens when you’re actually taking the photo – but it is also possible to enhance an average photo with some expert editing. Thanks to the large variety of photo editing apps and free websites available now, it’s easy for anyone to edit their photos like a pro – plus your camera and phone will offer some of its own editing functions to add filters and effects.

Most of us are no strangers to a filter, but there are a few other key things to look out for when editing than simply adding a filter. Cropping is a great editing tool and allows you to cut out any black space or unnecessary parts of the image – bye bye man blowing his nose outside the Taj Mahal. Other things to look out for are fixing the lighting to brighten shadows or reduce harsh highlights, and adjusting the saturation to bring out the colours – just be careful not to overdo any editing causing the image to look fake.


Now you’re equipped with the tips for getting the perfect photo. All that’s left to do is decide which clothes to pack!


**Have a look at Ampersand’s full travel photography guide right here!

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About The Author

Catriona is a travel fanatic, she loves exploring new places and is alway planning her next adventure. Some of her favourite destinations are Lisbon, San Francisco and York, England. Catriona's other love is social media and she can't have a day out without snapping that perfect Instagram pic...much to the annoyance of her boyfriend when she won't let him start eating before she gets that perfect #brunch shot. Catriona has over 3 years' experience working in digital content production, and specialises in travel.

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