Top 20 Tried & Tested Travel Photography Tips for Beginners

Photography 03/05/2022 8 min read

Travel photography is a wonderful way to make memories of everything that you see and feel and experience when you’re away from home. These 20 travel photography tips will help you to make the most of both your trips and your camera, without getting caught up in clichés or getting too bogged down with your camera and missing out on what’s happening around you.

Part 1: 12 Travel Photography Tips for Novice Creators

Start with these travel photography tips to get the best out of your trip and your camera. Get creative and even create your own signature looks as you learn to diversify your photography style range.

1. Keep Your Camera Handy

You can’t take photos with a camera that’s stashed away in a bag. Always have your camera handy for the passing moments. Also, take some time to learn your camera’s limitations as knowing when you can get the best shots also helps being prepared for anything. Getting better and faster photos means you know your camera and keep it close for any situation while traveling.

2. Get Up Early & Stay Late

Getting up early doesn’t just mean capturing beautiful sunrises, it can also allow you to photograph landmarks without tourists, see buildings and views in the golden hour light, and enjoy some peace before the day gets going. By staying late, you have the opportunity to absorb an environment in a different light, with different people, from a different perspective. A street can look radically altered between midday and midnight. You might be treated to an evening dolphin display at the beach during the blue hour.

3. Travel Tripod 

Do yourself a favor and purchase a lightweight, easy-to-extend travel tripod. There will be times when you really need stabilization, from long exposures to self-timed shots, and timelapse videos. It will also help you to slow down and put more thought into your compositions, style, and framing. This is a great tool to help you become a better travel photographer!

4. Buy Insurance 

You shouldn’t travel without adequate insurance that covers you for health problems or delays, but also check that your gear is covered, too. It is important to also be aware of how to keep your camera safe. One main option is to always have your gear as a carry-on; do not check it in with your luggage. You might also want to consider covering up the brand of your camera with black tape or a camera cover without any logos. You should also consider having a backup strap that looks simple without any distinguishing marks. Do not just keep flashing your camera and gear around sketchy areas, only bring it out when you want to capture the shot.  

5. Avoid Clichés 

You’ll want a photo of the Eiffel Tower if you’re in Paris and Tower Bridge if you’re in London. But aim to capture them from a different angle or style and create variety. Also, try to modify what and how you shoot so that you don’t fall into a travel photography rut or have nothing to keep your travel photography hashtags looking fresh. Keep changing things up between portraits, architecture, and landscapes.

6. Experiment & Keep Moving

It’s easy to fall into the trap of always shooting from the same angle, or seeing a famous landmark or vista and photographing it just as thousands of people have done before you. So experiment. Get up high and down low. Move closer to and farther away from things. (This is especially useful for buildings. Shoot straight up from the base!) You might surprise yourself.

7. Slow Down & Get Lost

You don’t have to do everything all at once. Enjoy each and every moment of your travels. Apart from you permitting yourself to unwind and recharge, it presents you with opportunities that you might miss if you’re trying to cram in everything imaginable on your trip and moving at light speed. Take a bus or tram to who-knows-where. Enjoy a slow lunch, watching the world go by. Wander the streets with no particular place to go, looking for the idiosyncrasies of where you are, capturing moments, and generally getting a feel for your destination. There will always be photos to shoot.

8. Have a Backup Plan 

Remember to rotate your memory cards throughout the day to ensure that you don’t lose all of your photos if the card should fail, or something happens to your gear. At the end of each day, back up your images to the cloud or an external storage device.

9. Never Stop Learning 

One of the best travel photography tips (or any photography tip) is to always keep learning. Sign up for online courses. Speak to other photographers and pick up their tips and travel photography ideas, for example, they might know great places to visit, specific times to travel to, or avoid sights and monuments. And follow other photographers on social media to see what and where they are photographing, and get ideas for techniques to try or places to visit.

10. Post-Processing Matters

If you’re not planning on doing any post-processing, then shoot in JPEG so that the contrast and sharpening of your images are optimized. If you shoot in Raw, then learn to use an editing program to get the best out of your images. In particular, pay attention to color in your travel photos: get the white balance right, think about contrast and tone, and learn to adjust highlights and shadows. (This is somewhere where online courses can really help!)

11. Develop Your Signature Shot 

Having a niche style that marks out your travel photography from someone else’s is a great identifier. Maybe you focus on particular themes or elements when you travel, for example, markets or places of worship. Perhaps you prefer muted or especially bright colors.

12. Be Nice, Have fun 

It’s nice to be nice, and you will always find that people are more willing to help you, offer advice or assistance, or be cooperative if you are friendly and polite. You don’t want to give a bad impression of yourself, or fellow travelers, to local residents. And have fun! You’re on a trip; you’re experiencing something different from your norm – enjoy it!

Part 2: 8 Pro tips and techniques for travel photography compositions

With these compositional tips and travel photography ideas, your photos will rise above the mundane and reflect your unique travel experiences.

1. Shoot in Manual

By shooting in manual mode, you take control of your image and not your camera. It means that you can capture the light and shadow as you want it, have the focus where you want it to be, and the depth-of-field right for the shot. That said, don’t be afraid to shoot in Aperture Priority mode if you’re having a go at street photography, as it gives you the requisite time in fast-moving or changing environments.

There’s a small remaining section of the Berlin Wall that is free for artists to decorate.

2. Portraits

If you’d like to try to get a portrait with a local, a smile and a nod to your camera is a good way to ask. Sometimes just having a small conversation about their wedding ring, offering to help them, or even asking if they want to pose with their basket, rug, or animal might make them feel more comfortable to agree. But, if anyone is reluctant, respect that and walk away. People are not subjects to be studied.

3. Combine a Human Element

Including a person, whether from behind or just in part, for example, hands or feet, add a relatable dimension to your photos. Make sure to not really show the face. This creates an interesting story and depth that allows for a better sense of the scale of the scenery. You will for sure have a successful travel photo by using this method to also inspire others to want to visit the same destination.

Super Pit in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia. It’s one of the largest open-pit gold mines in the world!

4. Consider Scale Identifiers

When you’re photographing something especially large, include something in the scene that helps to give a sense of scale. It helps to reinforce how impressive it is. One nice technique to remember is also to create a 3-dimensional look by making sure your frame includes foreground, mid-ground, and background elements. 

5. An Eye for Detail

Aim to capture the details in what you encounter as these are what will make your images stand out from other people’s and help you to remember what makes travel, and travel photography, special. Look out for the mosaic lining a fountain or the faces of the gargoyles adorning a church, the way the light falls on a building. 


6. Take Advantage of Rooftops & Hilltops

If you have the chance to take photos from a rooftop or hilltop, take it. They give you the best overview of a place, open you up to unusual views and details, plus can often have a romantic feeling. It is also a great shot to use any time of the day as it creates stunning perspectives that work in any light. Check out parking garages, bars around town, as well as popular landmarks that allow usage of their roof or patios.

7. Look for Unfamiliar Street Scenes

If you’re able to capture a street scene that feels unfamiliar to you, it can cement your travel memories and stand out among your other photos. Focus on noticing the essence of the neighborhood or city you are in and start forming your signature look. Add some layers by including street lights, benches, light or shadow, and people wandering. Especially if you are shooting from the ground, you can capture and create your signature look with striking landscapes or delightful architectural designs. 

8. Panoramas

Don’t forget to shoot a panorama for a wide, sweeping image! These will work particularly well from a higher vantage point, but you can do them from the middle of a square or plaza, too. Definitely reserve them for those memorable sights that have layers that will create a subtle depth and invite the viewer to gaze a little longer at the details. 

Travel photography is about capturing the sights and sounds and flavors of your experiences when you’re away from home. You really can make it about anything that you want it to be: a visual diary, an opportunity to create meaningful images for your home, even an aide-memoire for the fabulous food you ate. Just remember to actually enjoy the trip itself and not always be thinking about it through the context of a lens, especially if you’re traveling with other people. Have fun!