Travel Photography Basics

If you are a photographer bitten by the travel bug, you have a fabulous opportunity to capture moments in time from throughout the world and let other people experience the world through your eyes.


Photographing Locals

Travel Photography Tip 1 - African mother carry child in a traditional way in front of the hut

Many locals are happy with you taking images of them but you should always ask for permission. In some countries, people may expect a few coins in return for an image, and children appreciate sweets. Take photographs of people in their day to day activities, at work and with family. Use a telephoto zoom lens to be less intrusive and make sure you include some of the landscape to get some context on the surroundings.


Glorious Sunsets

Taj Mahal reflected in river

Remember, to take the perfect image of a sunset you want to be there an hour before it happens. A tripod is ideal if you want to capture the warmth of the light without any chance of blur. When photographing a reflection and architecture make sure that both parts of the image are in focus. Set the mode dial to AV (Aperture-Prioity) mode and choose an aperture of f/11 or higher (depending on the light conditions) and let the camera choose the shutter speed. Use your camera’s self-timer or a cable release to take the photo with absolutely no blurring.


Compose in Thirds

A section of The Great Wall of China, in Badaling.

When photographing great landmarks make sure your composition is perfect. Remember the rule of thirds; keeping all parts of the image balanced by putting something interesting in each section. The center of the frame should be contain the focal point; known as the ‘golden section’. Use a wide-angle lens to show off the vastness of the scene; including a person in the shot helps to show off the proportions.


Plan ahead

Travel Photography Tip 4 - Eiffel tower - beautiful day in France

Planning is everything. Plan before you go, and make a list of the equipment you need to take. Use a travel guide and decide what you want to see and what you want to photograph. Look at street maps and plan where you can shoot from. A famous landmark like the Eiffel tower for example has been photographed many times so looking at a map can help you decide on the best place to shoot from for a different perspective.


Cherish Memories

Travel Photography Tip 5 - Two men are about to go snorkeling in the ocean

Travel photographs are a great way for you, your family and friends to cherish and remember your travels. You can project your adventures as a slide show after inviting other friends who also share your interest in photography. They can then give you their honest feedback. Try adding a touch of humor to some of the snaps to make them even more interesting.


Recommended Settings

Depending on where you are going on holiday the setting will vary greatly. If you are travelling to somewhere hot with lots of warm weather, then fill-in flash may become your best friend. You may even need a Neutral Density and polarizer filter in bright locations to bring out the sky. When taking pictures of people, don’t be afraid to use a shallow depth of field to keep the subject standing out from the background.


Recommended Equipment

Take a little more equipment with you then you think you’ll need, just in case. Remember to take your battery chargers with you and a travel adaptor suitable for your destination. Take lots of memory cards with you and if you can, something that you can use to download the files. A tripod may not be practical but a monopod is useful if you can fit it in your case, or a beanbag may be used for support. Take waterproof covers or plastic casing if you are going to hot or rainy climates. Don’t forget to take lens cleaning cloths and compressed air canisters with you – be very careful when taking your camera to the beach as sand can get everywhere. Take a rucksack with all your equipment and a smaller bag for day to day outings.



Travelling is a great time to capture images to remember your trip. Remember to pack your equipment accordingly and plan how you will spend your time when taking images. Always be prepared and have insurance on your equipment – needless to say be wary since tourists carrying expensive equipment can be a target for thieves. Take care of your equipment and take lots of memorable shots.

Attila Kun

Attila is the founder and editor-in-chief of Exposure Guide. He is an avid photographer, graphic designer, bedroom DJ and devoted Mac addict. Attila got his first DSLR camera, a Canon 10D, back in 2003 and he has been hooked on photography ever since.