Useful tips for travel photography

Posted on October 18th, 2009 by Laura Byrne Paquet in How To

cyprus tree water

For 20 years, I used single-lens reflex (SLR) film cameras, but I’ve been using various point-and-shoots since about 2002, waiting for the price of digital SLRs to come down. Recently, the wait ended. And now, as the proud new owner of a DSLR, I’m avid to reacquaint myself with all the bells and whistles an SLR can offer: more control over exposure and focus, various lenses and filters, and more.

In particular, I’m trolling for tips on how to make better pictures while travelling, and I’ve come across a number of useful articles online.

For good, basic tips, I liked “Easy Steps to Better Vacation Photos” at Popular Photography magazine’s website. The magazine (and website) also have great guides to shooting in particular locations, such as this article on making photographs in New Orleans.

Fodor’s also has a useful site divided into subsections such as people, lighting and composition.

And I could spend all day digging around the wealth of fantastic features and good advice on National Geographic‘s photography website.

For sheer inspiration (along with some tips), try a photo-heavy site called, naturally enough,

"Catalina Mountains" Tucson Arizona

I’ve inserted a few of my favourite travel photos into this post, but they were all taken more by good luck than good management. Now it’s time to learn–or remember–how to make my own luck.

What is your number-one tip for making memorable photos on the road?

6 Comments on “Useful tips for travel photography”

  1. ParrotLover

    Hey Laura, I know this seems rather obvious, but something we all need to be reminded of from time to time: when traveling, do not go anywhere without your camera, even if you think there won't be a photo op. That's usually when you'll miss a good one.

  2. Laura Byrne Paquet

    Good point, John! I've missed so many good pictures that way.

  3. FatPassport

    This is a great topic! I recently posted a note about this on flickr (, and was surprised at the reaction to what I thought was the most useful tip of "remember to get lots of photos of yourself." I have thousands of travel pics, many that I truly enjoy of various places and people…but the photos I treasure are those of my wife and I experiencing what the road has to offer.

  4. Laura Byrne Paquet

    FatPassport: Thanks for your comment!

    The discussion on Flickr about whether or not to take photos of oneself on the road is fascinating.

    I wish I had read your tip before heading out on a trip with my husband in November. Since I'm often travelling to research travel stories, I'm used to taking photos of monuments, locals and even stores (I write a lot about shopping), but I rarely remember to ask someone to take photos of me. Then I curse myself when an editor asks, "Do you have any photos of yourself in the destination, that we can use on our contributors' page?"

    But a few days ago, when I was putting together a slideshow of my husband's and my trip to Europe, I realized that we have very few photos of each other and almost none of us together. Sigh. It's a bit of a gaping hole in the photo collection!

    I noticed that a lot of the negative comments on Flickr regarding photos of oneself on holiday focused on the standard "Here's me in front of the Eiffel Tower" shots. I'd argue there's a place for those, but I'm even fonder of semi-candids taken in more mundane places. Some of my favourite shots of my husband on trips were taken in cafes, on trains or in parks. So travel portraits don't have to involve famous places at all. Sometimes the most memorable places are the most ordinary ones. 🙂

  5. Sandra Phinney

    Great tips. I’m going to “lift” some of these ideas for a hunk of my blog (photo section) and will refer people to your site Laura. Interesting topic. Lots of food for thought.

    • Laura Byrne Paquet

      Please do, Sandra–and thanks! Glad you liked the tips. Anyone reading this comment, do look up Sandra’s lovely site, which has lots of great stuff for photographers:

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