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Four Basic Tips on How to Take a Great Travel Photo

If you love to travel, you might know the importance of taking great pictures of your adventures. Whether you like to post your pictures online, display them in your house on canvas like those from or put them onto postcards, taking pictures while traveling can be a real joy. But if you’re not a professional photographer and you don’t have top quality gear, this might feel a bit overwhelming. So, how can you take great travel pictures as a non-professional?

1. Research 

Overhead view of people sitting at a table with map spread out

Getting a great shot relies a lot on you knowing what picture you want. Before you go on a trip, you probably already researched where you want to go and what kind of places you want to see. So, do this while thinking like a photographer and create a “shot list” before you go. Think about the types of pictures you’ll actually want to look back on later. 

For example, if you’re going to Budapest and are interested in architecture, you may want to investigate the different buildings that you think will make good photos, and map out where they are. One of the most iconic shots of Budapest is of the Parliament Buildings but did you know the best place to take the shot is from across the river? 

You may also want to research the best time of day to take the shot? Is the natural lighting best in the morning, afternoon or evening? Using an app like Sun Locator to figure out the best lighting is really helpful when planning your shot list.

2. Know your phone/camera

A hand holding a smart phone showing image of trees on screen

A good photographer always knows their equipment. While you may not have a tripod, a multitude of lenses or a fancy camera, knowing the different modes your phone or camera has will help you to adapt your shot depending on what your photograph is of. The iPhone camera, for example, has a variety of different features you may not even know about, with the purpose of improving picture quality.

If you play around with these before you go, you’ll feel more confident in your shooting abilities, and your shots will be quicker too. There are also basic courses you can take like this iPhone Photography School.

3. Be creative

A female taking a photo of a tall building with her phone

The key to great photography is thinking outside the box and capturing images that other people haven’t thought of. We’ve probably all seen very similar pictures of the famous Mayan ruins near Cancun, for example, so instead of taking that same predictable shot, why not think of a creative spin?

One way of doing so might be using a different angle; perhaps a bird’s eye view if possible, or putting something in the foreground of the shot. Move around; try things out; play with your scene. The goal is to do something that you haven’t seen before, and that involves thinking outside your comfort zone. 

You can even get creative after you’ve taken the shot with editing tools like a background remover. For example, take the aforementioned shot of the Mayan ruins, hone in on one temple and remove the background. You can replace it with a solid color or some abstract pattern to create your own unique piece.

4. Be yourself

Two men and one woman taking a selfie with a phone camera

If you and your friends are in your pictures, the best photo will show you the natural you. If you like fun, silly or sultry poses, then go for it! Don’t hold back or be embarrassed because people are looking. If you’re planning on displaying your photos at home, it’s probably because you want to remember your trip, and you’ll want your photo to portray how you felt at the time.

Big smiles and laughter will make you remember why you love traveling and take you to a place of nostalgia when you’re gazing longingly at the photo on your mantelpiece. At the end of the day, unless photography is your business, your photo is for you – and it should show that.

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