Travel Photography for the Average Explorer:
How to turn those otherwise boring travel pictures into wall-worthy pieces of art
By MondoExplorer’s Editor
One of my favorite parts of a trip is coming home and sorting through all of the pictures. It’s almost as if you relive the vacation as each shot tells a story, brings a memory, or reminds you of the feeling you had at that moment.
I especially love doing things with my travel photos, rather than just sticking them away in a folder on the computer or an album that will probably never be opened again. Instead, I select the best few shots to print to the size I want, and then display them in a unique frame in my home, whether it’s a large, canvas-size photo that fills an entire wall space or just a collection of three or four small photos clustered together on a shelf or coffee table.
It’s the perfect way not just to remember a specific moment in your travels, but it’s also a personalized piece of art that certainly carries much more meaning than any generic wall-decoration you could buy in a store. Plus, it also becomes a great conversation piece among your friends who will want to hear your story and experience behind the photo.
Here are some of our best tips for taking travel photos that you can actually do things with when you return from your trip:
ACTION: Try to incorporate some kind of action into the shot, rather than just shooting a still landscape or seascape. For example, capture horses grazing in a field, rather than just the field itself. Having some kind of action going on in the shot adds a sense of scale and depth that will enhance the overall effect that your photo has.
RULE OF THIRDS: To put it very simply, this basically means creating a sense of balance between the objects and colors in your photo. Don’t worry about always centering the subject in the middle of the photo, but do counterbalance your main subject with other objects or colors in order to achieve a feeling of symmetry.
TEXTURE: Choose a shot with varying colors, patterns, textures, angles, or lighting that compliment one another. Not only will it make the photo seem less random, it will also be more visually appealing and artistic.
DEPTH OF FIELD: This is important especially when you follow our first tip of getting some action in the shot. To achieve the appropriate depth of field and turn your average photo into a more professional looking piece, the shot’s main subject should be in sharp focus with the focus gradually fading out into the background. Don’t worry about taking a sweeping landscape shot here that fills the entire frame, but focus instead on a particular object or person, while allowing the background to rest behind it. Doing this also gives a kind of emotional or evocative element to your picture, when can then tell a kind of story depending on the objects you focus on. This is a great way to get your picture to actually say something, rather than just represent a generic landscape.
HORIZONS: Where you place your horizon line is important, and as a general rule, it’s usually best not to place the horizon line right in the middle of the photo. Simply put, horizons captured high in the photo tend to accentuate objects in the foreground, while low horizons provide a sense of expansiveness and even a feeling of isolation for the subject you might be focusing on.
TIME OF DAY/CLIMATE: Morning or evening light is usually more favorable for pictures, although overcast days can create an interesting lighting for a photo.
GROUP SHOTS: Having a wide-angle lens will always help you here to get everyone in focus, but you can still learn a few simple tricks that will improve the kind of shot that is probably the most difficult to transform into something very interesting. First, try to arrange people in the group in an interesting way, perhaps clustering them or scattering them rather than lining them up. Secondly, don’t get too much of the background in the shot--keep your efforts directed on getting everyone’s faces or figures in focus. Taking a group shot in a semi-shaded area out of direct sunlight will help with this.