I’m all about being in the moment. Enjoy where you are, who you’re with, and the time you have there. But you know you’re also going to take some photos! Whether you’re taking candids for your laptop wallpaper, Insta-perfect pics, or capturing special moments for your walls at home, here are my best tips for taking photos in your travels!
The Best Shot is the Shot You Got!
This is “rule” number 1 for a reason! This is a good rule of thumb for photographing anything that moves, especially animals. You want that “perfect” shot, composed exactly as you want, all in the right lighting, from the right angle. But most animals are not going to pose and wait while you make everything exactly right for your photo-op!
Instead of focusing on getting one “perfect” photo, just get a photo! And then take more. Take as many as you want, as long as the moving subject of your photo is willing to stay in your frame. Don’t be so focused on getting the perfect shot that you end up with nothing!
More animals here: The Best Animals we Met in the Galapagos
If You Have the Window Seat, Don’t Give It Up!
I don’t have a lot of travel regrets, but two of them are because I gave up my window seat. Once, on the way to Nantucket on a sunny day, I gave up my window seat thinking I’d be able to get the same views (and scenic, aerial photos) on the way home. Not so. The day I flew home was rainy, and the clouds completely obscured the picturesque island.
That same summer, I gave up my window seat again on the way to Easter Island. A mother with two young children hadn’t paid to choose her or her children’s seats for the flight. She asked to take our seats (not the less-desireable middle row seats, we noticed), next to her very young daughter who was in our row. So, despite responsibly paying for our seats and choosing them in advance with the intent to take aerial photos of the island for my business, Steve and I both gave up our seats on behalf of this woman and her kids.
I missed some truly amazing shots of the famous and mysterious Easter Island “heads,” and no, there was not a chance to get the same views on the way out due to a different flight path. Don’t give up your window seat on that once-in-a-lifetime trip! Get the photos!
Where every seat is a window seat: What to Expect Flying in a Tiny Plane
Don’t Forget to Look at What You’re Photographing
Photos last forever, where memories sometimes don’t. So never feel bad about taking photos. But also don’t forget to look at and experience what you’re photographing! I’ve been guilty of this a time or two, so I now try to remind myself to look beyond the camera and see what I’m there to actually see. I recommend that you do, too!
Tell the People What You Want
It’s so nice when someone offers to take a photo for you when you’re traveling, either because you’re going solo or want a photo with the whole family–you included. But so often I’ve handed over my phone with premature gratitude, only to realize the nice person offering to take a photo for me thought getting my shoes in the shot was more important than the scenery behind me!
Keep reading: Exactly How to Visit the White House
They undoubtedly meant well, but come on, you know? Don’t be afraid to say that you want the focus to be on the background, or to only get you in the shot from the waist up, or ask them to take three or four in a row. I also always ask people to take at least one “up and down” (portrait orientation) and one “side to side” (landscape orientation). I was also super impressed with a young woman who asked me to take some “regular” and some “on the point-five” (wide angle on on iPhone). I’m going to start requesting that, too!
More here: The Best Things to Do on Lana’i
Learn How to (Lightly) Edit
I’m not a fan of heavy editing. I think it’s important to be honest in my work, and doing some of the things I see other bloggers do borders on false advertizing. But that’s another soapbox for another day! For now, play around on the “edit” function of your phone to learn how to lighten or brighten your photos for clearer pictures. Very often, photos look much darker than the real thing, even if the photo was taken in broad daylight.
Also, learn how to crop your photos, especially the ones you plan to frame. If your picture looks a little lopsided, you can straighten it up in the “crop” function of your phone or laptop’s photo editor. Just doing these two things will make your photos look clearer and more professional. And don’t worry if you “mess up.” You can always tap “Revert to Original” to start over!
Get a Phone Case with a Finger Hold
This is key. A phone case that protects it from a fall is great, but one that secures your finger, or a couple of fingers, to prevent a fall is even better! Some cases come with something like this attached, but my favorite is actually the FlyGrip, which attaches to almost any phone case. It’s perfect for secure selfies, out the car window shots, and photos over deep ravines, canyons, and bodies of water! Here are a couple of options to consider:
More handy options here: The Ultimate List of Useful Solo Travel Gear
Use the Cloud
I know, I know, you don’t trust it. But trust me when I tell you that you’ll be kicking yourself that one time your laptop or phone gets lost overboard, or dies for no good reason, or your data doesn’t convert to your new phone properly. Having your photos and videos in “the Cloud” or whatever virtual storage space you prefer will save you and your photos!
More here: How to Find Cheap Flights
Order Prints with Mpix
There are lots of photo printing businesses out there, but Mpix is the one I use most. You can order regular photo prints, canvas wraps, even metal photo prints! I’ve also ordered Christmas cards and other photo gifts from the site, and I’ve always been pleased. If you’re looking for a place to order some beautiful prints, Mpix is a great place.
Want more tips? Check out my friend’s Virtual Photography Course!
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