Travel Photography Tips and Preparation

travel-photographyI just returned from a trip through Europe as a tour photographer and gained some useful knowledge that could be helpful to any photographers, amateur or professional who are planning a trip. This article deals with: obtaining the necessary equipment, carrying the equipment and always being in the right place at the right time. If you are hoping to get a professional collection of pictures from a vacation or group tour in a far away place you should definitely consider some of these issues. If you would like to see a collection of my personal photos from some of my trips (in which I used these techniques) please visit the wallpaper galleries.

My Personal Equipment Preparation

Through many photography trips I gradually developed a strategy for traveling lightly and conveniently with a sufficient amount of camera equipment. On long trips I typically take along two cameras; one digital SLR (Single Lens Reflex) camera and one small digital point-and-shoot camera. For the SLR camera I take two lenses; one midrange telephoto lens (70-200 mm) and one fixed wide angle lens (24 mm). With these two types of lenses you will be ready for effective people pictures and beautiful landscape and scenery photos.

In addition to the cameras I absolutely always have some sort of tripod readily available whether it is the simple mini type or the full size larger type (for traveling you should make sure the tripod is made out of a light-weight material). For memory storage I take a larger memory card for the SLR and typically a smaller capacity card for the point-travel-photography2and-shoot camera. I also recently purchased an ipod so as soon as the memory cards are full I just unload them onto my ipod.

Carrying the Equipment

For long trips that are full of photo opportunities I only carry one shoulder bag for my photography equipment. I keep the SLR camera in the bag with the extra lens that I am not currently using. I then carry the smaller point-and-shoot camera in the pocket of my cargo pants or shorts. The newer small digital point-and-shoot style cameras have developed so much that sometimes I feel that the photos I obtain from that camera are better then the SLR camera’s photos. If you keep a small camera in your pocket then you will always be ready for spontaneous photo opportunities (mainly people pictures). And that way you won’t always have to have a huge camera hanging around your neck which in many places will make you an instant target for professional pick pocketers.

I can’t emphasize how important a tripod is on vacation trips. I am thoroughly convinced that the best pictures I have taken have either been at sunset or at night with long shutter speeds made possible by the use of a tripod. It has also come in very handy for architectural photos inside many cathedrals and buildings that have huge areas that are not very well lit.

travel-photography3Techniques for Professional Travel Photos

Of course for effective photos you should read some articles on composition, exposure, shutter speed, and aperture. But there are also many other issues that I have realized are very important for travel photos. For pictures of landmarks or landscapes you should make sure that you have some kind of foreground and background so your viewers will have a good perspective of what it would be like to visit the site themselves. You should also make sure that you take plenty of photos from one scene with different combinations of exposure settings and angles. I usually only find about 1 photo out of 10 that I really like even though all ten photos are taken of the exact same place. And remember that you will probably want to make sure that you get at least one good photo of each spot since it is likely that you won’t return any time soon.

For people pictures it is important to get photos of the people that may be accompanying you on your trip as well as some photos of people native to the area that you are visiting. When people are looking at photos following a trip they like to see both photos of them visiting certain spots as well as close ups of them enjoying themselves or focused mainly on their facial features. On the occasions that I have been hired to accompany a tour and prepare a slide show I found that the photos that the people enjoyed the most were of them enjoying a funny moment or of someone doing something silly that makes them look like an ignorant tourist. But they also enjoyed seeing photos of some of the interesting kinds of people that they met in the foreign environments. One example of this is on my recent visit to Germany I took many pictures of the crazy soccer fans who were cheering in the streets and waving flags.

There is a seemingly endless supply of things you can learn about travel photography, but I would say that the most effective technique is just to take a lot of photos and a wide variety of photos.

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