Postcards & Passports

Tips for Terrific Travel Photography

This post was most recently updated on February 8th, 2022

While photography is an art that takes many years to master, there are a few simple tips that even the most amateur photographers can implement to improve their travel photography. Try out these tips for terrific travel photography the next time you travel!

Tips for Terrific Travel Photography1. Follow the Rule of Thirds

This is the oldest trick in the book! If you can get good at following the rule of thirds, your photos will go from good to GREAT! The rule of thirds is a compositional tool that can help organize your photograph and draw attention to the most important parts of the picture. Imagine drawing a grid of vertical and horizontal thirds through your photo, just like the example shown below. When you compose your photo–right before clicking the shutter button–try to place points of interest (such as the main subject, horizons, trees, or people) along the grid lines. Following the rule of thirds will turn your snapshots into professional-looking photos!

Tips for Terrific Travel Photography

Rule of Thirds

2.  Any camera will do!

Obviously, there are a wide variety of cameras on the market, ranging from amateur to professional quality. But when it comes to travel photography, I like to think that ANY camera will do! Remember that you are taking photos to help you remember your trip after many years have passed. So, you don’t necessarily NEED a “nice” camera to do that! Even that little camera on your phone can be used to create memories that will last a life time. With that said, if you are serious about travel photography, you will find that buying a simple DSLR (for around $300-$500) will greatly increase the quality and resolution of your travel photos. The better resolution will allow you to print off your photos, even in enlarged sizes, for you to enjoy in your home or office.

3. Jump in a few shots!

I know for me, I like to hide behind my camera whenever I’m out and about. It’s not that I’m afraid of the limelight or anything, it’s just that I usually don’t trust handing my nice dslr camera off to a perfect stranger to take my photo 🙂 But, jumping into a few shots now and then during your trip will provide you with proof of your travels, as well as an immortalized version of yourself, your clothing, and your hairstyle. So, turn that camera over to someone–someone who looks nice and trustworthy, I might add–and get a couple shots with you and your travelling buddies, as well as the location you visited in the background!

Tips for Terrific Travel Photography

Numana, Italy and our tiny rental car

4. Capture the details

I took a trip to Italy last year with my parents and husband. We spent two weeks visiting many different cities (see here to check out what we did in Rome) and took in the Italian culture through art and cuisine. While I made sure to take photos of all the places we visited, one of my favorite things to do was take close up shots of the details found. I captured photos of the foods we tried, the architecture, and other cultural treasures. Here are a few examples of the details I captured while on my trip in Italy: 

So, why bother with the details?! When you take shots of the details, you immerse yourself in the culture and day-to-day feeling of the place you are visiting. Plus, when you look back through your photos after your travels are through, those detail shots will help you recall all the wonderful things you saw, heard, and felt while on your vacation. 

5. The golden hour

The best time to take photos is during what’s called “the golden hour”: it includes the hour right after sunrise, and the hour right before sunset (you can use this handy calculator to figure out when the golden hour is in your location). The lighting during these times is perfectly soft and golden, which adds a warm touch to your photos; this differs from the harsh, direct sunlight of high-noon.

 Tips for Terrific Travel Photography

An added benefit to taking photos during the early morning time is that you will get some amazing photos without all the extra foot traffic getting in the way (this is just another reason why to get up early–my Mom describes a bunch of other reasons to wake up early on vacation, here). If you want to capture a perfect “postcard” shot, your best bet will be to photograph during one of the two golden hours. 

6. Put the camera down!

My last travel photography tip is to actually STOP taking pictures every once in a while. Enjoy the moment and don’t always view the scene through your lens. Sometimes, taking a break and just enjoying the sunset is much more meaningful than that “perfect” snapshot.

If you have any other questions or suggestions regarding travel photography tips, feel free to comment below. I’d love to hear what y’all have to say!

And if you have the bug for taking photos, you might really enjoy these great gifts for photographers!

About the Author:
Tips for Terrific Travel Photography

Heather Young

I got into photography when I was in my early teens with the purchase of my first point and shoot camera. I loved getting to see the world through the lens of my Canon Powershot, capturing memories of school, friends, and family! It wasn’t until the summer of 2010 that I decided to upgrade to a Canon DSLR in preparation for my family’s trip to Spain and France. During that international trip, taking photos of French castles and Spanish bull-fighting arenas, I realized just how spectacular travel photography is!

Photography is much more than a hobby to me. I currently own a small business, located in San Jose, CA, specializing in lifestyle photography. From newborns to family portraits, engagements to weddings, I’ve captured a wide variety of high quality photos for my clients at a price that is affordable for them!

If you are interested in viewing my work, feel free to check out my photography galleries on my photography website.

(Much thanks to my daughter for guest writing this post!)

If you’d like to see more of Heather’s travel photography and articles, be sure to check out:

San Francisco: Tips & Tricks

Filoli Mansion & Gardens (near San Francisco)

Strolling in Santa Cruz

Scotland: Simply Stunning (You have to see it!)

Dole Plantation: Fun for Everyone!

Waimea Valley: A Step Back in Time

Safari Helicopters: Soaring Over Kaua’i

29 thoughts on “Tips for Terrific Travel Photography

    1. Heather

      Of course having a professional camera will always give you the best quality photos (high resolution photos, with the ability to blow them up to large scale prints)…But who has the money for such equipment sometimes?! 🙂 this post will give you a few good tips to implement using any ol’ camera. Once you master these compositional and lighting tips, your photos will look so much nicer because they will draw the eye in and give your photo meaning and focus. 🙂

  1. Megan Scharlau

    I love seeing your tip to put the camera down. I feel like we spend too much time living in the lens instead of seeing what’s around us

  2. Arnie

    We have a difficult time getting ourselves in the shots. Sure there is the occasional photo of one or the other of us, but we don’t always take the time to get us both in.

  3. Anda

    Excellent tips, Heather. I have a big problem with number 6 though. I can never stop taking pictures. Sometimes I leave my camera hoMe for a few hours just to make sure I’ll be forced to stop taking pictures. But instead, I find myself taking pictures with the phone … Bad!

  4. Lyn (aka) The Travelling Lindfields

    Thank you for the tips. I intend to try out them all. I have just bought a new camera after realising that the zoom on my little point and shoot just wasn’t good enough for photographing animals on our travels. There are some great new models on the market with large optical zooms in small camera bodies aimed directly at travellers.

  5. Esther

    Really good advice! I take both my DSLR and smartphone with me whilst traveling. Both have certain advantages. And yes, I really shouldn’t forget to actually be IN some pics, haha.
    Have a great Sunday, found you through #theweeklypostcard

  6. Vlad

    All excellent tips, I specifically like #3 and #4. I don’t like at all having my photo taken, but lately I’ve asked my friends and family more and more to take photos of me so I’ll hopefully have at least one photo of me that I like from each place I visit. It’s funny though how I need to explain to them in great detail how I want them to compose the photo and how to use the camera, haha.

  7. Tina Truex

    Great tips the suggestions you make are wonderful ideas. Thanks for sharing them. I will try to get in more pictures from now on. I usually try to take them and I do miss being in them.

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  9. Nisha Jha

    NIce tips. Especially one about being in a few pictures. Whenever I hand my camera to someone he/she somehow manages to shake or blur my image 🙂 🙂

  10. Sonal

    I love the rule of the third. I did not know this and I think it’s a fab tip. 🙂 I love clicking during the golden hour. Sunset and sunrise shots rock. 🙂

  11. Lois Alter Mark

    These are all great tips! I never heard of the rule of thirds, which I think could really help my photos. And, of course, I totally agree about sometimes just putting down the camera and being present in the moment!

  12. carrie @ frugal foodie mama

    These are all great tips for travel photography, but #3 & # 6 are some good reminders for me. I often don’t get in enough of the travel pics & sometimes I forget to just live in the moment instead of always looking at the scenery for the perfect shot.

  13. melody pittman

    Great suggestions! I love jumping in the photos and the one about attention to the details. That really makes a huge difference in a picture and a photograph in my eyes. 😉

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