Helpful Composition Tips for Travel Photographers

With over 35 years of experience, world renowned travel photographer Bob Holmes has journeyed all over the world. His remarkable work has appeared in over 46 books, as well famous periodicals like Time, Life, and National Geographic. During his interview with Marc Silber, Holmes provided a few composition tips and techniques to help budding photographers capture better photographs:

Known for what he calls his “National Geographic style”, Holmes’ approach is all about the subject, not the photographer. Holmes’ goal when creating a new image is to produce something with composition that grabs the viewer. You need to accept the images given to you rather than forcing an image to occur.

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Give your subject your full attention.

His advice for budding photographers is offered throughout the 10 minute video. However, Holmes says the key to learning about composition is easy; you just have to practice it. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and to get a good grasp and understanding on composition, you will have to practice to get there.  Here are a few other helpful tips he offered:

  • Be Aware of the Entire Frame. If there is something there that shouldn’t be, you only have yourself to blame.
  • Know Your Equipment. Don’t let your camera become another obstacle. Always know your equipment inside and out, including how it works and how it will react.
  • Become Fully Involved. Look for colors and geometry, and get in the zone, giving your entire focus on your subject.
  • Put in the Time. Sometimes you have to wait to get the shot exactly the way you want it, so be ready to spend long periods of time just hanging around waiting for the perfect shot to appear.
  • Use the Rules of Photography as Starting Points. The Rule of Thirds, Golden Mean… there are plenty of photography rules put into place to capture pleasing photography. However, don’t stifle your images by only sticking to these formats. Instead, inject it with something exciting or interesting that pulls your viewers into your photos.
  • Find Your Punctuation. Look for and capture a point or critical detail that puts your image into the proper context.
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Sometimes the only way to get the shot exactly the way you want it, is to wait for it to happen naturally.

“We are responsible for everything in the frame.” –Bob Holmes on photography composition

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