I was inspired to write this post after thinking of all the places I’ve traveled to and don’t have any pictures of. Just as frustrating, there are other places where I did take pictures, but wish I had other ones or just more of them. I thought I’d share a few travel photography tips in the hopes that it may save others from my disappointment. If you’re a professional travel photographer, or seasoned traveler, these tips might seem like common sense to you. If you’re a person who is new to travel or loves to travel and sometimes happens to have a camera along, these tips might help you out.
1. Vary the subjects of your pictures – I’ve always taken photographs of landscapes and nature, and never really took pictures of people. I also never cared much about having pictures of myself while traveling. Looking back, I can think of lots of photos I’d like to have of different people along the way and also of myself at different places. I know other travelers who’ve done the opposite, took lots of photos of people and now wish they had more pics of landscape and buildings.
2. Be the “cheesy tourist” – Don’t worry about looking like a tourist, you are one. When I was younger I liked to think of myself as different than other “tourists”; after all, I didn’t have a plane ticket home, a schedule, and a nice hotel room. I guess one of the ways I tried to differentiate myself from other travelers was being too cool to take “tourist” photos. This sounds dumb now, but I don’t mind if I can help out one new “road dog”.
3. Don’t assume you’ll be back – I ‘ve lost out on many pictures this way. Take photos the first time you see something and don’t assume you’ll be back later to snap some pics. Sometimes plans fall through or change. It’s a reality of travel.
4. You can’t take too many pictures – It’s easier to erase pics you don’t want than to get photos you want and didn’t take. I found this to be a problem of mine. I think it’s ingrained in me from the days of film when photos were limited and expensive. Take extra memory cards and take lots of pictures.
5. A photograph with a crappy camera is better than no photograph – Don’t think you can’t take pictures because you don’t have a $3000 SLR. Ten years after your trip, you’ll be happy you picked up that disposable camera and snapped a few photos to remember it by. All of my photos of Mt. Saint Helens and many of Rocky Mountain National Park were taken with a five dollar camera I picked up at a gas station. They’re not perfect, but I’m really glad I have them.
6. Take your own pictures – At the risk of sounding like a pessimist, I think this tip is worth sharing. If you’re depending on other people to take photos, don’t assume you’ll always have acces to them. I lost out on years of travel photos this way. If you take a trip with a friend, girlfriend, boyfriend, trained monkey, or anyone else, get copies of your faves when you get home. This is very easy with digital photos and may be well worth it down the road. Save them on your own laptop, memory card, external drive, etc..