Travel photography is so much more fun when you come home
with amazing photographs! Joe Fitzpatrick gives us his best advice
to make your travels a fulfilling experience.
7 Steps to Better Travel Photography
with Joe Fitzpatrick
- Manage Your Expectations
What type of trip is it?
– Traveling with family and friends (non-photographers)
Avoid frustration by NOT taking all of your camera gear. Opt instead for a light
point and shoot.
Pack light, do the tourist thing, have fun and enjoy the trip.
OR – plan to get up before sunrise while the rest of your group is still asleep and
take advantage of the golden hour without disrupting the rest of the group’s
– Traveling with other photographers or on a photo tour/workshop
Take multiple camera bodies, lenses and a tripod.
Plan to spend time at different locations when the light is right.
2. Research and Planning
– Decide on a location.
– Find out what there is to shoot there.
– Find out the best time of day to shoot it.
- Google “10 best photo spots in ___”
- Be specific for the types of photos you want
– Landscape, cityscape, portrait, monuments, night photography, etc.
- Check out sites like Pinterest, Instagram, 500px, and even Facebook – look at images taken at your destination.
– Find images you enjoy and find out where they’re taken.
- Check online travel forums – a great resource that goes mostly unused.
– You may see questions here you never thought to ask such as
“What type of electrical adapters will I need to charge my equipment?”
- Guide books and Travel books are a great place to look as well – go to a bookstore so you
can physically flip through and see which books give the best information for your trip.
- The best place to exchange (the bulk of) your currency is at a National Bank within the country you are traveling to.
- Check to see if your credit card has a “Foreign Transaction Fee” – you may want to choose a card that doesn’t!
- Fill out a Customs Form #4457 before you go – this is a list of all of your equipment with their serial numbers to prove that it was yours before you left the country. You only need to do this once, unless you get new equipment. This will keep you from having to prove you didn’t purchase it out of the country and paying an IMPORT TAX.
- Shortly after your arrival, take a basic bus/trolley tour of the area.
- Take notes to remember places of interest for later. You may find new things to add to your photo list. This also allows you to check out the condition of of some of the places you already had on your list. It would be a shame to waste time trying to get a good shot of a cathedral that’s currently covered in scaffolding.
- Go to the gift shop of the hotel and look at the postcards to find great photo spots.
- Ask the concierge or doorman where to go – locals in the travel industry are a great source of information and can give you tips for out-of-the-way places.
- Hire a travel/photo guide to maximize the time you have in that location. They LIVE there. They know exactly where to go.
- Friends and Family trip: keep it simple – a point and shoot or a light DSLR with a simple lens. (One camera, one lens and a backup – usually your phone)
- Photo workshop: “How much can you carry and put on the plane?”
- Check your airline’s baggage policies – they vary from carrier to carrier and plane to plane.
- Small planes in 3rd world countries have much smaller weight limits than international commercial flights – be sure to check out the requirements for EACH leg of your trip.
- Use the gear you already own. Trying to figure out new equipment on location is not how you want to spend your time.
- The Holy Trinity of Lenses:
16-35 (or 17-40), 24-70 (or 24-105 * a great walk-around lens), and 70-200 (or 100-400)
- A fast f/2.8 is VERY HEAVY for travel. Opt instead for the lighter f/4. The higher ISO capability of the newer cameras makes the larger lens unnecessary.
- Other gear: Tripod, Cable Release, Flash, Extra Batteries, Memory Cards, Cleaning Cloths and Brushes, Chargers, etc.
4. Taking the Photos
- Know something about composition, the rule of thirds, and when to break it.
- Create depth and dimension in your landscapes by having something of interest in each layer (foreground, middle ground, and background).
- Lighting is everything – time of day is very important.
- Build on triangles for good compositions.
- Use leading lines to draw the viewer through the image, but don’t create a “fence” that their eye has to jump over. Leave openings for the eye to travel through as it progresses through the scene.
- Take pictures of signs to help identify your images later.
5. Connect with People
- Talk to people whose job it is to have their picture taken. Re-enactors, people in costume, and people in the tourist trade who are NOT in costume should all be amenable to posing for a picture.
- Be respectful of people that say no.
- Be on the lookout for great backgrounds. Most people will be willing to move 50 feet or so to get a better background for the shot.
6. Tell the Story
- Document your travels as a movie or a book. Tell the story.
- Opening shots can be an overall landscape, a pan or just a shot of the whole structure.
- Mid-shots start to show the larger details.
- Insider shots show people and smaller details.
- Build your story – create a beginning, a middle and an end.
7. Take the Iconic Shots
- Capture the uniqueness of where you are.
- Festivals, special events, people in costume, famous landmarks, monuments, and wildlife.
- Take the picture even if “Everyone takes this shot.”
What you need to learn for a solid photography education. Watch our free video:
St. Augustine – April 11-14, 2019
Florida’s Forgotten Coast – May 13-17, 2019
Women’s Photography Weekend, Naples – June 7 – 9, 2019
Tuscany Ladies Photo Workshop and Tour –
Sept 28 – Oct 5, 2019
New Book! Peggy Farren and Joe Fitzpatrick have published a book highlighting Florida’s Best Photo Spots!
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