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11 Tips to Make Your Travel Photos Worthy of National Geographic

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 December 9, 2019

        5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

        5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

        Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

        Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

        Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

        1. Get Rationally Optimistic

        Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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        This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

        In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

        The result: no more mental stress.

        2. Unplug

        Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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        How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

        It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

        Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

        3. Easy on the Caffeine

        Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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        Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

        4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

        That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

        How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

        • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
        • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
        • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

        While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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        5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

        This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

        The result: mental stress will be gone!

        So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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        Featured photo credit: Radu Florin via unsplash.com

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