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Travel Photography Tips for Shooting Five Different Subjects

This is a guest post by Liz Pekler.

Traveling around the world opens your eyes to new places, cultures, and experiences. The moment you set foot in a foreign land, you take a moment to relish the thought of you being in a place that you used to just see on movies and the internet. It’s finally your time to explore and get to know the place, its culture, and its people not only through your eyes but your camera lens as well.

With such a variety of interesting subject waiting to be photographed, don’t limit yourself only to those that are already well-known such as infamous landmarks. Grab your best camera for travel, take a look at your surroundings, and be on the lookout for any snap-worthy sights or moments beyond what meets the public eye.

For example, when I went to Paris, I saw that Eiffel Tower wasn’t the only picturesque subject in the city. There were the stunning Parisian streets, the mouthwatering baguettes, mind-blowing architectural designs, and of course, the beautiful French people. So, using a Canon EOS-6D digital SLR camera, I captured whatever made my heart glow and now have amazing high-resolution images to look back on of the whole city, not just the Eiffel Tower.

To get high quality photos memories of whatever makes your heart glow, here are several tips to up your photography game when shooting these five commonly photographed subject by travelers: landscapes, buildings, cities, food, and people.


1. Landscape Photography

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Image via Pexels

Capturing the breathtaking natural wonders doesn’t involve merely aiming your camera and mindlessly clicking it away. Do justice to the beauty of a landscape by following these tips:

Research about the landscape’s location

The first thing you have to know before getting to the location: when is the best time to visit and appreciate the stunning view? Consider when and where the sun will rise and set (for the perfect lighting), and the times when the place is flocked by tourists.

Knowing these little details will give you an edge over other photographers or travelers who want to take photos of the place, you know when to capture the serene view without those pesky photobombers ruining your shots.

Shoot in different kinds of weather

Don’t let the weather stop you from taking photos of the landscape! Well, except of course when the weather is extremely harsh and risky for you and your equipment. But if you think the rain or snow is bearable, go for it. As long as your camera has the proper protection, you’re good to go.

Shooting in different weather conditions can help you get unique and interesting shots. Who knows, you might even get to shoot a lightning striking the open grounds or the stunning rain from afar.

Mind your background and foreground

The key to a perfectly composed landscape photo is to pay attention not only to the background but also to the foreground. A great technique is to make it look larger than life by including in your frame the sky, water bodies, mountains, and even those from afar. You can also add some human touch by taking a picture of your travel companion enjoying the view.


2. Architectural Photography

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Image via Pexels

If you’re going to places that have a lot of brilliantly designed and world-famous buildings, don’t just enjoy the extraordinary sights by yourself! Bring out your camera and take a photo, so you could show your family and viewers how amazing it was to be there.

Follow leading lines and emphasize details

Make sure you keep an eye on details so that you can capture a structure’s unique design. You can also play with lines and details by leading your viewers’ eyes to where you want them to focus.

Be mindful of your surroundings

This is a must, especially when composing your subject. Make sure that the lines are straight and everything looks balanced. Doing so can help it make look like it has been snapped by a professional. Composition is a great deal in architectural photography. You don’t want to leave out the great and stunning details of the subject, do you? I guess not.

Shoot from a different perspective

Take extraordinary architectural photos by looking at your subject from a different perspective. Buildings and structures need not be always shot at an eye-level—you can point your camera upward or downward. If it creates some kind of illusion in your pictures, you’ve just become an effective architectural photographer!


3. Cityscape Photography

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Image via Pexels

If you happen to visit in New York soon, try to go to one of the highest buildings in the city. Find the Empire State Building and see the rest of NYC from a bird’s eye view. Make your way to the top, wherever you may be, and capture that breathtaking view of the city.

Use the correct exposure

Admit it, whenever we take photos of cityscapes, especially in daytime, there’s always a spot in the photo that’s overexposed. The scenery may look nice in the viewfinder, but once you click the camera, the overexposed parts show in the photo. Adjust the exposure on the parts where there’s bright light.

Use a telephoto lens

Many believe that wide-angle are ideal for shooting cityscapes and skylines, but actually, telephoto lenses can do a better job than other lens types. A telephoto can zoom in closer to certain spots without having to sacrifice image quality. Plus, it can eliminate unnecessary details, which focuses the viewer’s attention on the subject.

Go to rooftops and open decks

Of course, where else will you be able to take a stunning cityscape photo but on rooftops and open-air decks? Being in a top location gives your viewers a glimpse of what it looks like at the top and admire the sparkling view of city lights. So the next time you tour a high-story place, look for an uncrowded spot, set up your tripod and camera, and capture that view.


4. Food Photography

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Image via Pexels

Part of the travel story you’re trying to share with your photographs is your dining experience. Whether it’s a cheap food hub in the Big Apple or a fine dining restaurant in France, there are techniques you can use to take better pictures of food.

Add some props

Your food may look yummy but without other details, it can look flat and boring. Pretty sure the plating is already arranged when the food reaches your table, so just add simple things like a fork, chopsticks, or a glass of water. If you incorporate them effectively in the frame, the image will look lively.

But don’t overdo it

While having different utensils on the background looks artsy, it’s still advisable that you minimize those props and make the food the focal point of the photo.

  • Explore various camera angles

The right angle to use depends on the style of the food in front of you. Observe the plating—if the food has height, zoom out to highlight it. But if it’s flat and simple, go closer and take a photo with a shallow depth of field for a blurred background.

If your food is stacked altogether (example, a tower of pancakes), it might be best to take its photo in portrait mode. However, if there are a lot of dishes on the table, use the flat lay style for better presentation of the dishes as a whole.


5. Portrait Photography

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Image via Pexels

Whether it’s your travel buddy or the locals, there’ll always be a point when you need to take portraits of people as a remembrance or to see the place or country’s culture through their movements and daily activities.

Ask for your subject’s permission

Never forget to ask permission before you snap a photo of a local. Sure, you can go for candid shots, but be careful. In some cultures, it’s disrespectful to take a photo when the subject doesn’t know about it. If you really want to get up close and personal with the locals, a simple hello and smile can do the trick.

Engage with your subject

Make the locals feel that you’re curious about what they do and show that you’re genuinely interested. Ask them questions. Let them tell their story as you take their snap their portraits. This will help them become comfortable being photographed and in the presence of a stranger.

Keep your focus on the eyes

The eyes are the windows to the soul, as they show a person’s emotions. Focus your camera on the eyes of the subject by setting your camera to a wide aperture (around f/2.8 to f/5.6) for a shallow depth of field for a blurred background. This way, the viewers can see the connection between the subject and the camera.


Hope those tips help you with your travel photography.

Thanks for stopping by! xo.


Guest Blogger Bio:

Liz Pekler is a travel photographer with several years of experience in the field. Being a freelance blogger enables her to help photography beginners and enthusiasts to tell wonderful stories of their travels as seen through their lenses. It also allows her to share my thoughts about another advocacy of mine: social equality and change.

Most people go to Iceland for nature-related activities, but I'd go for food and music. Between New Nordic Cuisine and Summer Solstice Festival, Iceland seems like the next destination for foodies and music lovers.
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