I think there are few travel souvenirs that are better than photos. Good shots can really capture whatever you were seeing at any given moment, and bad ones can be REALLY discouraging, especially if you can’t figure out what you’re doing wrong. I should know; I’ve taken PLENTY of good and bad pictures since I’ve been in London! I’ve made mistakes and I’ve learned a lot, so I thought I’d share some of my “rules” for good travel photography with all of you. I’m NOT a professional, and I’m NOT an expert, but if my mistakes (and the ones I’ve seen other people make) can help somebody take better pictures during their own travels, I’m happy to help! Read on:
- Know your camera well before you leave home. It can be awfully tempting to buy a fancy new camera before a big trip, and there’s nothing inherently wrong with that. What isn’t so smart is not knowing how to use all of its features prior to leaving home. Case in point: not long after I got here, I was wandering around St. James’s Park. A fellow tourist walked up to me and asked if I could help him with his camera; he’d gotten it stuck on the self timer and didn’t remember how to return to normal shooting mode. Luckily, it was a Canon like mine, so I was able to help him out in about 2 seconds. You don’t want to find yourself in a situation like that, just in case there aren’t any nice people around to help you out! 😛
- Shoot with the sun behind you. The colors will stand out better, the pictures will be sharper, and you’ll be happier with your results. This is one of those simple things that I NEVER thought to do for the longest time, and I couldn’t understand why so many of my pictures were washed out and faded, no matter what camera settings I used. If you’re into people photography, you may need to tweak this rule a little. After all, if the sun is behind you and your camera, it will be in the eyes of your subjects. I’m not the one to talk to about people photography, though…not my forte.
- Get creative. Shoot from different angles, at different times of day, in different camera modes, etc. You never know what you’ll end up with! Plus, you WON’T end up with the same old pictures of the same old landmarks as everyone else.
- Know your camera’s limits. Everyone’s will do some things really well, and some things not so well. Mine is great for flowers and wider architectural shots, but the lenses I have tend to compress things together. That makes it very hard to get wide shots inside cathedrals that show all the fabulous detail.
- Accept that not every picture you take will be fabulous. This is something else I’ve been kind of guilty of not doing; I want every picture I take to be perfect. 😛 That’s just not possible, even for professionals. I remember reading that only 10 out of every 100 pictures that the best photographers take are good, and out of those 10, only 1 is excellent. Not great odds, but it’s true. 🙂 There will always be times when the weather and light won’t cooperate, or you don’t have the right lenses for a particular subject, or you just aren’t in the right place at the right time.
Again, I’m not a professional, so take everything with the appropriate grain of salt. There are plenty of good books out there (some specifically geared toward travel photography), and I recommend picking one of those up if you DO want advice from the pros. 🙂 Happy shooting!