Travel Photography Tips: How to take great photos

Point. Shoot. Done. I’ll admit it – that used to be my mantra when it came to travel photography. I’d argue I was far too busy enjoying myself to find the perfect angle, set the exposure or even take anything half decent. But then I realised photos are quite often the only thing left after the memories fade. To me now, it’s so important to be able to take photos I’m proud of and want to keep looking at. If you agree, try some of my travel photography tips to see the difference it makes!

My best travel photography tips

Find a new perspective

It almost goes without saying, but the subject can make or break a photo. That said, you can take a picture of the most mundane object and still end up with a cracking picture.

Travel Photography Tips

Believe it or not, that’s a photo of a bin bag in London! Had I have zoomed right out, the photo would be boring as hell. But by filling the frame, I’ve made it much more dramatic, abstract, interesting!

Which brings me to the first of my travel photography tips…

Play with composition

Everybody has a full-frontal shot of the Eiffel Tower somewhere on their memory cards. But how many people have got a photo from a 45 degree angle to the right, where the tower is partly obscured by trees? Far fewer, I bet. It’s important to think about how you can make your photos different, because, dare I say it, you could have just printed a photo off the internet with much less effort.

Go off the beaten track

Find interesting places to take photos of attractions not everybody has seen. One of the best pieces of advice I was given by a fellow travel buddy was to watch where everyone else’s cameras were pointing, and then turn around 180 degrees. You never know what you might find if you look behind you.

Travel photography tips

Buy the right kit

Of course, good travel photography isn’t just about where you go and what you snap. And though you might have a decent camera on your smartphone, some equipment can turn your photos from blah to phwoar!

The right camera

If you’re thinking of ways to improve your travel photography, you’ve no doubt already got a camera. But if you haven’t or are looking to upgrade to a DSLR, I would highly recommend the Nikon D3300 as an entry level camera. So far, it’s done everything I need it to do and produces some really stunning pictures.

Travel Photography Tips

Lenses

The Nikon comes with a 18-55mm zoom lens, which is usually enough to keep you going for basic shots. If you need to get closer to your subject or have a very specific style of photography in mind, consider buying additional lenses like the ones below.

For portrait and food photography, I adore my Nikon 35mm lens. It’s a prime lens, which means you can’t zoom in or out without moving your feet. But what it lacks in flexibility, it certainly makes up for in simply beautiful shots. It’s got a really wide aperture which, if you’ve read the above, you’ll know means you can shrink your depth of field down to F1.8, leaving only the tiniest piece of your photo in focus.

For wildlife photography, you really need a telephoto lens. My favourite is the Nikon 50-200mm lens which allows you to get some stunning close-ups of wild animals from a safe distance. Check out my 2 weeks in South Africa blog post to find somewhere to try it out! You can get even bigger lenses if you really need them – just be wary they’re much heavier and much more expensive!

Travel photography tips

Everything Else

You could keep buying kit and never be satisfied, so it’s important to know when you’ve got enough. However, to really take your photos to the next level, there are a few more must-haves that I would highly recommend.

Ever wondered how professional photographers take photos of those beautifully silky waterfalls, misty waves or crisp nighttime shots? I’ll let you in on a secret – they use a tripod! I love the Manfrotto range, and the BeFree Aluminium One edition is perfect to keep in your bag and whip out when you need it.

How many times have you been out on a full day tour or in the middle of a campsite when that dreaded battery icon starts flashing? Think of the photo opportunities you might miss if you run out of juice! I always keep a (charged!) spare battery for my Nikon D3300 in my bag, just in case. And a spare memory card too so you don’t run out of space.

Finally, I would recommend buying a couple of filters for each of your lenses (make sure you buy the right size!) The ones I use are UV filters to protect the delicate glass in everyday photography, and Polarised filters to make it easier to shoot in bright sunlight (which is very useful when travelling!)

Use them!

If you just follow one of my travel photography tips, I urge it to be this. Use your photos! Don’t just take them and leave them hanging around on your memory card. When you get home, edit them in Lightroom or Snapseed and then…

Print them

By printing your photos, you can stick them up on your walls, use them in calendars or create a coffee table photobook. They will make great talking points for your guests, and you will have a constant reminder of where you’ve been and what you’ve seen.

Instagram/Online Portfolio

Of course, you could also make use of online galleries such as Instagram and Flickr to keep a permanent record of your travels, and share them with others.

Now go free and use your newfound talent in photography!

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What are your travel photography tips? Do you think photography enhances or diminishes your enjoyment of travel?

Disclaimer: If you choose to buy anything through the links on this page, I make a small percentage of the sale at no extra cost to you. I genuinely own all of these products and am very pleased to be recommending them! 

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Tips to improve your travel photography

Is Istanbul safe for visitors?

My parents freaked out when I said I was going to Istanbul. Hell, even I freaked out when I said I was going to Istanbul. I had paid far too much attention to news of the city’s recent terrorist attacks that, in the weeks before my trip, I was questioning my sanity even more than I was questioning “is Istanbul safe?”

Well, my friends, I’m still alive aren’t I?

Is Istanbul safe now?

It’s true that Turkey has had more than its fair share of atrocities in recent years – from an attack in a nightclub, to bombs at Ataturk Airport, and now political uncertainty in the form of President Erdogan.

To compensate for the presumed heightened risk of attack, hundreds of armed police officers are positioned all over the city. You also need to walk through metal detectors and have your bag searched at the main attractions. I’ll be honest, the extra security is a little off-putting, but it’s there for a reason: to make it as safe as possible. I would feel much more on edge without it.

It’s important to remember that there are some 15 million people in the city. The chances of being anywhere near an attack at the exact time and day it happens are incredibly slim. Just to put things in perspective, the deadliest attack in Europe was in Paris – yet no one bats an eyelid when travelling there.

Now, I’m not trying to scare you off visiting the French capital, but make you realise that Istanbul is just as safe as any big city.

How to stay safe in Istanbul

Of course, I’ll give you the same advice as I would give if you were visiting anywhere else. Be aware of your surroundings and always listen to your country’s advice. For me, that’s the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, who also say to remain alert. But guess what? They say that for France and Germany too!

Why not consider an organised tour? We did one with Daily Istanbul Tours and found it a great way to explore the city in a safe environment. Instead of looking over our shoulders the whole time, we learnt about Istanbul’s main attractions from an expert guide who would know if anything was out of the ordinary.

Is Istanbul safe for visitors?

Why you should visit Istanbul now

Not only is Istanbul safe, now is actually a really good time to visit. Long gone are the crowds, the queues and the skyrocket prices. In fact, you can get a pretty swish room in a luxury hotel for very little money.

Turkey is longing for some good fortune. Its biggest source of income, tourism, shows no sign of returning to prosperity. It’s been said that tourist numbers in Istanbul are down as much as 30%, leaving the city and its hard working locals struggling to cope with the downturn. I was truly taken aback by the warmth and resilience of the local people. You can tell they remain proud of their stunning city, even now. We were made to feel so incredibly welcome and that’s testament to the Turks’ hospitality and heritage in tourism.

One thing’s for sure – it’s a beautiful city and one worth visiting at least once in your life. Why not now? If, after reading this post, you’re convinced, read my last article on how to spend 48 hours in Istanbul.

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How do you feel about visiting Istanbul? Have recent events put you off visiting somewhere you’ve always wanted to go?