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Taking beautiful travel photos that truly do the scene before you justice, is not as easy as click and shoot. There are so many factors to consider such as the lighting, composition, exposure and then there’s the editing process…

So today I am going to share some of my best travel photography tips for beginners helping your photos go from ‘meh’ to magical even if you are brand new to photography!

orangutans at sepilok orangutan sanctuary one of the most popular things to do in borneo

The best part? Pretty much all of these tips will work for any photographer, whether you are using a professional full frame DSLR camera or your smartphone!

These travel photography tips are for beginner photographers so if you are looking for something a little more in-depth, then check out some of my other travel photography articles

And if you’re ready to take it to the next level…

My friend Addie has a travel photography course which I love. She breaks down every aspect of travel photography and delivers it in easy to understand, video tutorials. Plus she has free goodies like Lightroom presets!

Right, let’s get started with these travel photography tips shall we? Let’s make you a better photographer…

Travel Photography Tips for Beginners

Travel Photography Equipment Tips

Get to know your camera

There is nothing worse than arriving to the most beautiful location on your trip, getting your camera out and realising you have zero ideas how to use it and get the most from it.

So you shoot another picture on auto mode again, vowing to read up about the other settings later but of course your trip is busy so it never happens! Don’t be that person. Get to know your camera well before you leave for your trip.

If you’re planning a trip in a few months time then NOW is the time to invest in a good camera and start getting to grips with it. If you’re not sure where to start, I have a few useful buying guide;

Click here to check out the best cameras for backpacking in 2020

Remember the best photographers practise a lot, even when they are at home!

Get the right equipment

As well as finding the right camera to suit your needs, you also need to think about what equipment you need. If you are going on safari, you need a telephoto lens to get nice close up shots of the wildlife. If you are going to Iceland, you will want a wide angle lens that allows you to pack the most into your epic landscape shots.

girl using best backpacking camera leaning over a bridge to take a photo

Keep your lens clean

This is especially important if you are using your phone to take travel photos. A mucky lens can ruin a photo especially at low light where it will cause increased flare of bright lights and soften the overall image.

Get a good travel camera bag

If you have a DSLR or mirrorless camera, you will be switching lenses a lot. Make sure that you choose a travel camera bag which is easy to access. It also needs to have anti-theft measures to help keep your beloved camera equipment safe.

Speaking of keeping it safe, water-proofing is another super useful feature to look for in a camera bag!

Check out these anti theft travel bags.

Get good camera insurance

No matter how careful you are, accidents happen. Cameras get lost, stolen, sat or and soaked through. So make sure that you get good insurance for your camera which also covers you when you travel abroad.

Some travel insurance companies will not be able to cover very expensive equipment though most will easily cover a less expensive camera.

Travel Photography Tips for Composition

Use the rule of thirds

This is the most important travel photography tip I can teach you! Honestly it makes SO much difference.

Most beginner photographers will place the object they are photographing bang smack in the centre of their composition. But did you know that actually the human eye prefers things that are off centre?

So next time you compose a photo, mentally divide your image into 9 boxes or into thirds. Now place your object on once of those lines. If its a person or animal, make sure they are looking towards and not away from the space.

camel guide in the sunset on sand dunes in morocco

Look for leading lines

Look for sweeping lines which naturally guide your reader towards the main object. Paths, pavements and trees are really good for this.

See how this dusty path in the outback draws your eye to the water container?

Focus on the eyes

When you are taking a portrait, you want the sharpest part of the image to be the eyes. You may want a slightly blurry background – we call that bokeh and it helps to focus the eye. To create bokeh, you need to use a low F-number which creates a wide aperture, letting in more light and creating a shallower depth of field. (I go into this in more detail in my article about taking portrait photos.)

When you are using a wider aperture, it’s really important that you focus directly on the eyes so that they remain sharp even when your background has the beautiful blur.

picture of one of the men in the tribes I met on my desert tour in morocco

Frames

Look for natural frames for your photos to keep things interesting. For example looking through a window frame or framing a picture with tress and plants.

Try alternative views

Try to think outside the box and try different angles to get that perfect shot. I’ve been known to lie down on the floor in the middle of a city to get a different perspective and to get the details of the street cobbles in street shots.

Yes, I got weird looks but it was worth it…

Travel photography editing tips for beginners

Use presets

If you’re just starting out with travel photography then consider using presets. You can download these onto your phone or desktop then apply them using Lightroom.

When you apply these presets, they will make some subtle changes to the image to make certain colours pop, lift the shadows, sharpen or soften the image and give it that polished edited look.

For example the preset I used beneath is one I created for my Amalfi Coast photos. It brightens the image, brings out the red and aqua tones and softens and warms the image.

Have you ever used a filter on Instagram? That’s a type of preset. Though I find the presets on Instagram very limiting.

In an ideal world, you would find presets for your specific type of photos. For example, my friend Addie sells her Scottish Highlands presets which are perfect for anyone visiting any rural locations in Northern Europe. It really warms the images up and adds a cosy feel to these countryside shots.

Shoot slightly underexposed

When you are taking your shots, make them just very slightly underexposed. It is much easier to recover a dark shadow on an image than a blown highlight. You know when you get bright whiteout skies? That’s an overexposed image and its very hard to rectify when you edit your photos.

If editing on a phone, adjusting the brilliance can do wonders

If you’re not ready to invest in a premium editing tool then just adjusting the brilliance feature on your phone edit settings can work wonders!

new zealand south island itinerary sunrise over mt cook

Don’t over saturate

Whatever you do, go easy on the saturation editing tool! You don’t want a photo to start looking fake and over the top. By all means, increase the saturation just slightly to make the colours pop but go easy my friend…

bike propped against a wall overlooking perfect ocean at favignana sicily italy

Take a travel photography course

Becoming a good travel photographer takes time, patience and practice. I certainly didn’t learn all these photography skills overnight!

If you’re in a rush to brush up your photography skills, then I recommend taking a course. You will learn the skills you need MUCH faster than if you try to teach yourself.

babies monkeys cuddling in a tree in Yala National Park

My friend Addie has an online travel photography course I think you would love. It’s delivered in easy to understand, fun to watch video tutorials and she includes several bonuses such as her photography cheatsheets and lightroom presets. If you happen to be reading this before 25th August, shes offering a 25% discount!

Check out Addies Travel Photography Course by clicking here.


I hope you’ve found these travel photography tips for beginners useful and are excited to get started taking more beautiful travel photos!

If you are ready to invest in a better camera to take your photos to the next level, then check out my guide for the best travel cameras.

If you enjoyed this article, don’t forget to pin it to your Pinterest board so you can come back to it later!

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