Originally Published February 3rd, 2019
This week I have the goal in mind to finish my blog series on our trip to Ireland.
I want to close that chapter so I can start this next travel year with a clean slate.
Ashley and I plan to do more traveling this spring/summer and I thought I would share a few photography tips that I use when traveling.
1. Keep Things Simple
When you’re traveling it’s best to carry the least amount of gear as possible. My travel kit consists of my Fujifilm X100F, a wide lens (28mm), a telephoto lens (50mm), MacBook, analog notebook, and spare batteries.
Don’t bring your entire camera kit. Lugging all that gear is exhausting, there’s a chance it might get stolen, and you’re probably not going to use it. The less stuff you bring while traveling, the less you’ll have to worry about.
I once went on a trip to Tennessee with some friends, we hiked all the way up to Rainbow Falls. I brought everything from a giant zoom lens to a speedlite. Long story short—half of the gear never left my bag. I ended up carrying a heavy bag all the way up the mountain for nothing.
Bring one camera—I guarantee that’s the one you’ll use.
2. Get Up Early — Stay Up Late
Light is the most important detail when it comes to making great images. There’s nothing like the atmosphere created by morning & evening sunlight—the golden hours. Waking up early and staying out late allows you to take advantage of these unique lighting conditions.
Forget snapping photos at the crack of noon! Take a nap mid-day and recharge for early morning & evening photo walks.
Another advantage of starting early is to avoid the crowds. If you want to capture a scene with minimal tourists—get to the location when it opens or as early as possible. This will cut down on the amount of unwanted people in your shots—as well as other photographers!
3. Include People In Your Photos
I just said get up early and avoid having people in your photos—now I’m telling you to add people to your photos.
Sweeping seashore vistas & towering mountain landscapes are cool—but if that’s all you have for your slideshow—people gonna get bored bro.
Placing people within the frame—whether it be you or travel companions—allows the viewer to imagine themselves along on the journey.
It also adds perspective. If you add some tiny people at the bottom of the frame—you really get an idea of how huge that mountain side really is.
Shooting a busy street or farmer’s market? Include some people in the foreground, change your shutter speed to add moment to the shot.
In the end, any place that you travel to will be more interesting when the human element is present.
4. Travel With Photography In Mind
Rushing around trying to visit every site in town isn’t going to leave you with much time to make great images.
If you’re acting like a tourist—you’re going to take tourist photos.
Stop and take the time to make great images. If that means waiting for the situation to be just right—tuff—grab a coffee and get comfortable. Great images require patience, dedication, and hard work. If it were easy—everyone would come home with jaw dropping photos from their Disney trip.
5. Get Lost
Some of my favorite travel photos were taken while wondering down alleyways or random streets of Chicago or Dublin.
In my experience, it’s not the famous landmarks that provide the most interesting images—it’s the things I never expected or planned on seeing.
Everyone is going to photograph the main attractions—focus on the things that the average tourist is going to overlook.
Get lost roaming around the streets of a foreign city—experiencing it through your viewfinder.
In my opinion—this is the best way to travel.