Five tips for more inspired travel photography

I’m not sure what it is about travel that has such a powerful, often rejuvenating effect on the mind. I think being away from our normal surroundings forces the mind to slow down enough to take the time to be truly immersed in, and therefore truly see, another place. I’ve also found that travel can be a great remedy for getting out of a photography rut.

Perhaps it’s the stories you see in the faces of the locals, the unique architecture of the buildings, or the feeling of serenity you feel being simply being in a new place so different from home.

1) Don’t be afraid of bad weather

Before, during and after a storm can be perfect times to capture dramatic lighting, though be careful not to go out during lightning and make sure you protect your equipment from rain.

2) Be curious

Explore the local area by wandering around the streets with your camera but don’t feel disappointed if nothing presents itself to you.  I’ve sometimes traveled to areas where I’ve not taken a single photo because I didn’t feel inspired at the time, or there was nothing unusual enough to capture my attention.  Though having a curious mind and being on the look out can help you stumble upon places which may have otherwise gone unnoticed.

3) Travel lightly

This will make photography a more enjoyable experience, rather than being weighed down with heavy equipment. For this reason I rarely travel with a tripod. You may like to use a small, portable tripod which can easily sit on a table or other surface.

4) Connect with the locals

You may discover interesting places that aren’t mentioned in the tourist brochures.  I’ve also found that connecting with the locals is a great way to discover the best local places to eat out. Immersing yourself with the locals can also be great for taking candid portraits, or perhaps plucking up the courage to ask someone if you can take a portrait in return for an emailed photo, for example.

Consider the tourist locations but also consider exploring the local roads and places which at first glance don’t seem too exciting. There’s nothing more exhilarating than stumbling upon a something unexpected.

5) Don’t be like a tourist

This is a technique I use to challenge myself (especially with travel photography) to think about how a typical tourist might photograph something and then challenge myself to come up with something different. One way of doing this is to avoid immediately picking up your camera and instead use your eyes alone to take in a scene or subject. Walk around and view things from a different angle, for example crouching down for a more dramatic lower angle or standing on something for a higher viewpoint.

Taking the time to pre-visualise how a photo might look, then making the best decision on how to photograph it, you can avoid the common mistake of taking lots of photos without thought. This can have the advantage of taking photos with better impact and ensuring you use less space on your memory cards.

Travel photography seems to tap into that part of us that wants to explore the world, see it in a new and fresh way, and get insight into how other people live. If we’re lucky, we’ll return home with a renewed sense of enthusiasm and some great photos to tell others about our experience.