Extreme Travel | Adventure Sports

How to… take better travel photographs

Andy Biggs' top tips for better shots
© Andy Biggs

Want to take the kind of travel photography that makes jaws drop and eyes water with envy? Award-winning photographer Andy Biggs tells you how you can do it…

Include people in your photographs

A person in a frame adds visual eye candy, and also helps put a sense of scale into the scene. Most of the photos we take during our travels tend to be viewed by people we know, such as friends and family, and given the audience they will appreciate people they know being in the photos.

Take your photos during the ‘golden hours’ of light

Warm light and long shadows are always preferred over the harsh and bluish mid-day sunlight. Just about all photographs look better when taken during the first hour of light and last hour of light of the day.

Vary your types of photographs

Remember to vary your types of images. If you are illustrating a story for a scrapbook or photo-album, here are some suggestions: an opening shot, a closing shot, a wide angle landscape, a zoomed in landscape, a detail shot up close, a portrait and a ‘special moment’. These are some ideas that will help you to avoid taking the same photographs throughout your travels.

Create a wish list of photos

Before you begin your trip, make a list of the types of photos you want. Keep in mind places you are visiting and the activities you have planned. You will be much happier with your results, as you knew what you wanted before your trip even started.

Always have a camera with you

You cannot take a photograph if you don’t have a camera with you, so it is a good thing to think about owning and carrying a small point and shoot camera that can fit into your pocket. Yes, it may not give you the quality that you ideally would like, but at least you were ready to capture the moment. I carry both 35mm digital SLR cameras as well as point and shoot cameras with me, and both are used often.

Learn how to use your flash

Some images just absolutely cannot work if you don’t use your flash. Most cameras have the ability to adjust the power output of the flash, especially on digital SLR cameras. If you are shooting a person portrait with a heavy backlight, you will likely need to use your flash.

Learn your camera’s controls

If you don’t know your camera’s controls, you can at least should in fully automatic, or Program, mode. However, you may be missing out on some functionality that may make for more dramatic photos.

Bring your camera manual with you on all of your trips

You never know when you may need to refer back to it for guidance.

Pack properly

Be sure to check with your airline about their carry-on and checked luggage policy. I prefer to carry-on all of my gear, whether I am flying to New York or Namibia. When packing for smaller excursions throughout your trip, refer back to your photo wish list so you can be sure to bring the right gear with you that day.