Tutorial: Travel Photography

What to photograph

Taking photographs abroad is not that different to shooting at home; there might be more sun and the scenery might be more colourful, but the techniques you need to capture outstanding images will be similar.

Search the web for images of the places where you will be travelling to see photos and ideas about how, where and when to shoot them (as well as how not to). Check for events that will take place when you are there. Consider hiring a local guide for a few hours as they will often know the best times and less well-known locations for photography.


Coca, © Philippe Pédefer 2011, Canon PowerShot A550

Look for the local colours – things which help to identify the area. It could be a distinctive style of building or transport. Open markets with local food and shop windows with local fashions also reflect the culture of a country or city. Food and drink are often some of the most memorable parts of travel, with new flavours to explore. They also make good subjects for photos, giving two reasons to record them on your camera.

Landscapes often look their best in the early morning when the sun is low in the sky, the illumination is golden and there are few tourists around to spoil your view. Alternatively a morning mist can create dramatic photos.

People can make great subjects, especially if they are wearing local dress or undertaking local activities. Smile and always ask permission first; you don’t need to speak the language to get the message across although learning some basic phrases can make a big difference. If permission is refused, move on; respect the privacy of the individuals.

In some countries, especially Africa and parts of Asia, a small fee might be expected before you photograph a person, so keep some loose change handy. This will usually allow you to move within a few feet of your chosen subject, giving opportunities for strong characterisation. Do remember to respect your subject. Use a wide-angle lens if you want to show the surroundings; use a telephoto lens to concentrate on the face. Finally remember to show your subject the photo if you think it appropriate.

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