How to Take Much Better Travel Photos

Face it, most travel photos are boring. They’re often the same old static shots of the same old famous places. But even a shot of one of the world’s most-photographed icons can be fresh and exciting if you approach it in the right way. Consider these tips:

Include people

Travel photographs of famous monuments often focus on the structure itself and are devoid of people. By including people who are engaged in activity in your shots, you can breathe new life into your pictures. Avoid the cliche shot of having a travel companion posed stiffly in front of the attraction. Instead, take candid photos of area residents or other tourists actively engaging with the attraction, like chatting while walking up the front stairs or giving rapt attention to an artwork on the wall.


Shoot from an unusual angle

Standing in front of an attraction and pointing your camera directly at it will result in an ordinary and often dull picture. Use your creativity and photographer’s eye to find unusual angles. For example, a National Geographic photographer took a picture of a cathedral by photographing its reflection in a car window. A child leaning out the car’s window added extra visual interest to the shot.

The rule of thirds

Many travel photographers center the subject in the middle of the composing screen. This leads to photographs that are predictable and boring. A better way to compose your pictures is to use the rule of thirds.

Draw two imaginary horizontal lines across the screen that divide the space horizontally into thirds. Then do the same with two vertical lines. When composing your shot, pay particular attention to the areas where the lines intersect. Place the subject of your photograph at or near one of the four intersecting points. People’s eyes are drawn naturally to these points, and your picture will feel effortlessly balanced.

The rule of thirds is also useful when you are taking travel photos of landscapes. Place the horizon on one of the horizontal lines. Use the bottom horizontal line if you want to emphasize the sky, and use the top one when you want to emphasize the foreground.

Use unexpected printing options

Your opportunity to make your travel photographs better doesn’t end when you press the shutter. How you process and present your photographs can make the difference between ordinary and “Wow!” An easy way to add pizzazz is to create custom postcards. You can add backgrounds that will frame your photographs in an appealing way.

The postcard format itself adds extra interest to your shots. If you put your photos on Facebook, send your friends links to your Flickr account, or attach pictures to an email, your friends who are swamped with email and social media messages may not really look at them. But sending a postcard in the mail has such strong novelty value that it is sure to get their attention and give them an easy way to save and display your image.

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