Travel photos should convey the feelings, mood, and culture of a trip. But too often, we come home with memory cards full of blurry, cliché, and ineffective shots. We’ve all been there! To avoid disappointment, we’ve outlined common travel photography mistakes so you don’t make them next time around.

 

1 STORING YOUR CAMERA WITH YOUR TOILETRIES

It may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many travelers throw their precious equipment in with loose pastes, lotions, and liquids.

Top Tip: Pack Smart

Choose a mirrorless camera as they’re up to 50% smaller than DSLR’s and take up less space in your bag. Since checked luggage tends to get jostled, your carry-on is a safer bet. Pack it securely in a padded case, away from anything that leaks. Don’t forget to include camera wipes, an extra battery, battery charger, and an adapter if you’re going out of the country. Also, remember to pack extra memory cards so you don’t get the constant flashing message that your card is full.

 

2 LEAVING YOUR LENSES BEHIND

We know airline rules keep getting stricter (and stricter), but if you make space for anything, let it be lenses. Who needs underwear, anyway!?

Top Tip: Keep a Kit

Different lenses allow you to shoot from interesting perspectives and photograph each subject with the correct setting. A normal lens will shoot what you see naturally with your eyes. A telephoto lens is great for far away subjects. A portrait lens will help you take incredible pictures of the people you meet on your travels. With a fixed focal length and bright aperture, portrait lenses are perfect for shooting beautiful background bokeh. Fisheyes create cool effects on travel landscapes and macros snap close-ups with mega-clarity.

 

3 GETTING THE SAME PICTURE AS EVERYONE ELSE

We’ve all seen it. We’ve all taken it. Landmarks can be powerful subjects, but bad lighting and tourists aren’t.

Top Tip: Get Creative to With Filters and Angles

Start by researching hiking paths or side streets that can bring you to a fresh view. And to avoid all those other tourists in the foreground, try to find a time of day (or night) when there are fewer crowds. Also, use a camera with built-in filters so you can preview the effect of the filter before taking. Filters help capture a different take on popular landmarks so your feed isn’t a repeat of everyone else’s.

Shot by Henry Do with an Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III Camera | M.Zuiko 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 EZ Lens | 1/1000 sec | F3.5 | ISO100

   

4 RUSHING A SHOT

There’s a reason people say they need a vacation from vacation. It can be exhausting trying to explore a destination in your allotted time, but that shouldn’t be obvious from your photos.

Top Tip: Find Your Angle

Take the time to find something interesting about each of your subjects. Start by varying your height (squatting, lying down) and shooting from an angle rather than straight on. Even better, use a camera with a tilting screen so you can angle the screen to you rather than having to get on your knees. Also, walk around, leave the crowds, and vary your orientation. Keep moving and testing until you find your image.

Both images shot by Henry Do with an Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III Camera | M.Zuiko 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 EZ Lens

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1/1000 sec | F8 | ISO100

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2.5 sec | F3.5 | ISO100

5 NOT ASKING PERMISSION

No one likes to feel like a science experiment. Some people will be (rightfully) upset if you aren’t mindful or respectful of their privacy so always ask permission before taking a photograph of someone.

Top Tip: Understand Travel Photography Etiquette at Your Destination

Every culture has its quirks. While some cultures may be thrilled to share their way of life with you, others may feel exploited. Research your destination beforehand, especially its local privacy laws. If you’re photographing in a place where people speak a different language, learn some basic words to communicate with the people you’re trying to connect with. A simple “thank you” or “beautiful” goes a long way in every culture.

If you can't find something worth shooting, put your camera down! You don't need an image of everything you see. After all, sometimes it's more rewarding to just live in the moment. Of all our travel photography tips, the most important is being present so you can portray authenticity in your pictures.

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