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Travel photographer, Jon Enoch, gives his five best pieces of travel advice for every photographer, whether you have a DSLR camera or a cell phone.
My love of travel photography comes from a round-the-world trip I took when I was 18 and I bought a cheap point-and-shoot automatic camera before I set off. I was instantly hooked on the art of taking photographs, documenting a world that I had never seen before.
At the time, the simplicity of that entry-level camera meant that I didn’t have to worry about camera settings. I was able to totally focus on the subject matter and composition. Since then, I have become a freelance photographer working with advertising clients, sports people and CEOs.
However, I still always make time to create my own personal travel projects that mean a lot to me, which I spend a long time planning.
Improve Your Photos With These Top Tips for Travel Photography
The Approach – Ask People if They Will Pose
One of the best ways to capture the feeling of a place is to take photographs of the people who live and work there. However, having to approach people can be a huge barrier to some.
It’s psychological but many people feel shy or embarrassed to ask people if they can take a specific photo. It’s certainly a skill and like all skills, it needs refining. And the single biggest problem I see in people’s photography in the early stages is they haven’t mastered or confronted this issue.
Sure, you can hang back and take pictures from a distance. Sure, you can convince yourself that you’re shooting in a more reportage style but ultimately photography is all about connection.
If you aren’t making those connections with people in real life, then your images will show it. Get closer and connect.
Best Tips & Tools to Plan Your Trip
I’ve done photographic portrait series all over the world. People think photography is about having the right gear and f stops and which lens you buy. But, the sooner you realize it’s actually about people, the better your photography will be.
This is one of the most important tips for travel photography you can take away.
Think About Quieter Times
I frequently shoot at night when I’m in a busy location for two reasons. The first is that in a busy city, you can get a much better shot without lots of people all around. It just gives you space both physically and mentally.
The second is that you can control the lighting much better. Photography is ultimately about the control of light.
Bright sunshine is your enemy. It creates unpleasant hard shadows, while harsh light causes people to squint and sweat. The hours around sunset and sundown are perfect for photography, giving off a soft glow of light. The low angle of the light draws out the geography of cityscapes and natural features.
I was recently in Australia and the west coast of the US and the best part about the jet lag and staying on London time is that I was up early in the morning. Taking a stroll around Santa Cruz at 5 am or Bondi Beach at 4:30 am meant the light was amazing.
Think About the Story – What is it Telling Us?
When I plan out a series, I think about what are the classic travel photos that you would see. And I avoid them. I then think about the types of photos I’ve never seen before – which is harder than it sounds.
It’s always a good idea to seek out a different angle or an image of someone doing everyday activities within their city or location. Travel photography cliches are cliches for a reason and while everyone is attracted to the main sights, make sure to have a proper poke around away from the main tourist areas.
Get off the beaten track; this could be literally or metaphorically. If, for example, we are in Italy at a food market – we have all seen those images…but where is the food coming from? Who’s producing it? Who’s setting the market up in the morning? What does the back of the market look like?
There are so many images in the world today, the cliches will no longer stand out and it’s important to think beyond that.
Editing and Cropping
A light touch is best. If your photography isn’t good enough, messing around in a software package isn’t going to make it any better. Less is more. While it’s tempting, overreliance on filters or effects is a bit of a cheap trick that won’t age well.
No one wants to be looking back on an image they took years ago and having them all dominated and dated by whatever effect of filter was in fashion at the time.
Take Your Time and Have Fun
Lastly, but importantly, good photography can take time. Whether that’s waiting for the right shot, lighting, or taking 50 versions of the same photo.
Remember that the most important part of this is to create photos that help you remember your trip and make you smile.
Vacations are ultimately about joy and fun so surround yourself with it, use it – let it seep into your pictures. Just have fun with it and use these tips for travel photography and you’ll be on your way.
Author Bio: Taking interesting photos is a huge part of any travel adventure, and will provide long-lasting talking points and memories. London-based photographer Jon Enoch has won multiple awards for his travel portrait series. https://www.jonenoch.com/ and https://www.instagram.com/jonenochphoto/