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11 Tips to Make Your Travel Photos Worthy of National Geographic

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11 Tips to Make Your Travel Photos Worthy of National Geographic

Taking travel photos while you’re globetrotting is a wonderful way to remember your journey, as well as to share your experience with others—whether they be family and friends or millions of strangers across the globe via the world wide web. As a photographer and travel writer, I’ve taken photos in all sorts of places. I’ve learnt a few lessons the hard way, but the good news is you don’t have to! Here are my top travel photography tips to get the best possible shots out of your camera.

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sydney travel photo
    Sydney Skyline by Luke Chapman
    1. Before you leave home, consider which camera gear you should take, and which you should leave behind. If you just want to take a few holiday snaps, then a decent compact camera may be all you need. On the other hand, you may want to take a digital SLR and a few lenses. Lugging around a backpack full of camera gear can be a real pain, so as a compromise, consider taking an all-in-one travel zoom lens, like Tamron’s 18-270mm as well as a small 50mm lens for portraits and low light photos. (The nifty fifty is a recommended addition for any camera kit)
    2. I would consider a tripod to be an essential item for travel photography: It will allow you to get great long exposure photos in low light conditions and at nighttime, but can often be too bulky for travel. Tripods can also be a real hassle if you’re travelling internationally; I have been stopped countless times at airport security checkpoints as they check for any concealed weapons in my tripod (spiked tripod feet can also be an issue). A good alternative is Joby’s Gorillapod: It’s small, lightweight and flexible, so you can either stand it up or wrap it around something (like a fence or a tree) to get the perfect shot.
    3. If you don’t have a tripod with you, look for somewhere stable (like a bench or even the floor) to rest your camera on, especially for indoor or night time photos. This will keep the camera steady and help to eliminate blurry photos.

      rainforest travel photos
        Curtis Falls by Luke Chapman

      • “Bad Weather” doesn’t necessarily mean bad photos—some subjects are perfect for photographing in the rain. If you’re in a city, reflections on sidewalks and roads can make for some interesting photos. Gloomy weather can be great for subjects like rainforests and waterfalls; cloud cover is a great diffuser and eliminates the dappled light and harsh shadows that you normally get in the rainforest on a sunny day. If you’re near a garden, try taking photos of plants with water droplets on the leaves or flower petals. Search out local places to take indoor photos, such as churches, museums, train stations (the list goes on).
      • If you’re photographing something large (like a mountain or building) or small (like a miniature horse), try taking some shots that include people in the photo to give the viewer some perspective and sense of scale.
      • Although it sounds counterintuitive, using your flash during the day can be a good thing: it can help to fill in shadows and reduce contrast.
      • Try taking photos at night! In the city, you can get some interesting lights and reflections (especially on rivers or other bodies of water). If you’re away from the city lights, try taking some star trails or star field photos.

        river city night travel photos
          Brisbane River by Luke Chapman

        • Don’t just shoot the whole subject (e.g. a building). Take extra photos of little details. Get high, get low, try different viewpoints so you don’t get the same old photos. These all come together really well to tell the whole story.
        • Get away from the main tourist traps; follow your nose and explore back streets and meet the locals. Thousands of people will have photos of the main attractions, but how many can tell a story about the local people and culture? You will be guaranteed to find hidden gems by leaving the well-trodden path.
        • If taking photos of people, try to take candid photos. If they notice that you’re taking photos of them, most people will pose or smile for the camera, and it can look forced in some circumstances. Experiment with both. Most locals will be happy to oblige if you ask to take their photo. If they’re not, just move on. If you’re travelling in a country that doesn’t speak your language, it can be very helpful to learn to say “hello” and “Can I take your photo?” in the local language.
        • And a final tip: Get out from behind the lens and experience the journey. It’s nice to have photos, but sometimes it’s even better to put the camera down and just immerse yourself in an experience!
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        Last Updated on January 13, 2022

        10 Cheap And Amazing Honeymoon Ideas

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        10 Cheap And Amazing Honeymoon Ideas

        A honeymoon is important.  The wedding is over.  The months, or even years, of stress and planning are finally over.  It’s time for the two of you to relax, settle in, and start enjoying your time together as you embark on your first journey as a family.

        To make the most of this time for the least amount of money, it’s important to focus on what you want out of a honeymoon.  This isn’t your typical list of touristy honeymoon locations everyone goes to.  Rather, it’s a list of cheap honeymoon experiences a couple can enjoy together, regardless of where it’s at.

        1. Camping

        A week long camping trip is a fantastic way to see how you mesh together as a couple.  You’re put in a low impact “survival” situation where it’s just the 2 of you and nature.  You have a chance to see how your new spouse handles themselves when left with the basics of life.  There are amazing national parks all over the United States where you can camp for a week for $20-30, disconnect from technology, and enjoy some of the natural wonders our nation has to offer.

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        2. Staycation

        You don’t have to go anywhere for a honeymoon.  In fact, the tradition of taking a honeymoon vacation is a relatively new one.  Prior to the 19th century, a honeymoon involved staying home together for a month to get to know each other physically.  Think of how blissful it could be to take a full month off work, disconnect from the outside world, and focus entirely on projects together.  You may not be wowing your friends and family with pictures of some exotic location, but they’ll be envious of your escape from the rat race nonetheless.

        3. Island Getaway

        People tend to overspend on their honeymoon vacations to Hawaii, Tahiti, etc.  Going to these places doesn’t have to be expensive.  You don’t need to stay in a 5 star resort when you’re on a Best Western budget.  You’re there to be in the atmosphere of the island, not a hotel room. Book a cheap flight and sleep in a hotel alternative, on the beach or in your car.  It’s the view in paradise that really matters.

        4. Fancy Resort

        Book an expensive resort, spa, or retreat in the city you live in.  While this may seem counterintuitive as a cheap destination, when you consider your savings on airfare and other travel costs, you can afford to be treated like royalty within your own city limits.  If you book a honeymoon package, you’ll end up with a lot of free amenities and extra attention.  There’s no need to fly halfway across the world to live the good life.

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        5. Road Trip

        The journey is often more fulfilling than the actual destination.  If you fly out to some exotic locale, you’ll be stuck on a plane for 8-30 hours.  Rent a luxury car, pick a handful of places you each have always wanted to visit, and go on an adventure.  You can keep food costs down by packing your own snacks, but it’s always a good idea to sample the local delicacies wherever you go, even if it’s only a few states over.

        6. Charter a Boat

        If the ocean is your thing, a week-long cruise can cost you $1500-$3000 per person, depending on the destination.  You also have to factor in travel costs to and from the cruise, alcohol, souvenirs, and on-shore excursions.  You’ll also be surrounded by people.  For the same price (and often much cheaper), you can charter your own boat and enjoy the experience in private.

        7. Las Vegas/Atlantic City

        If gambling is your thing, these are the places to do it.  Which one you choose depends on your preference, budget, and proximity.  The way to make this vacation cheaper is to gamble smart.  Stay away from low odd tables (i.e craps, roulette) and read up on the MIT blackjack strategies to beat the house.  If you do it right, you can win enough for a free trip (and gain a valuable team skill in the process).

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        8. Themed Retreats

        There are weeklong retreats all over the world where you can fully immerse yourselves as a couple into a hobby you’re both passionate about.  Go on a yoga/meditation retreat, a ranch, a vineyard/farm, a backpacking adventure, treasure hunt, or whatever you’re into.

        9. Working Honeymoon

        Your honeymoon doesn’t have to be a vacation.  For a truly memorable experience, dedicate a week to a charity or volunteer organization.  You can drive out to a campground to help restore it in the offseason.  Maybe you’ve always wanted to volunteer to help out your local animal shelter, plant trees, help the homeless, etc.  Use the time to do something together as a couple that will fulfill you spiritually while contributing to the community.  Just because you’re on a honeymoon doesn’t mean you can’t be productive.

        10. Festivals, Fairs & Special Events

        Every city, state, and country has festivals, fairs, and special events.  Find one you’re interested in.  If you time your wedding right, your honeymoon can be a trip to one of these festivals.  Burning Man, SXSW, Bonnaroo, the Renaissance Fair, regional harvest festivals, Mardi Gras, New Years Eve in Times Square, a movie premiere, or whatever you’re into.  If you plan your honeymoon at the right time in the right place, the possibilities are endless.

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        Featured photo credit: Josue Michel via unsplash.com

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