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Top Tips for Great Travel Photography

Having visited 85 countries in all seven continents, freelance travel photographer, Richard l'Anson has built his career on his twin passions of travel and photography. With credits including Lonely Planet, Richard knows a thing or two about how to be best prepared to capture the perfect moment on your travels and reveals his top five tips. 

I plan nearly all my trips around major festivals as they provide such fantastic photo opportunities. People are more relaxed, often dressed up and are often in traditional gear, which is important for travel photography.

1. Make your subject the focus

One of the main rules of travel photography is to consider your subject. Make it your main point of focus and for a really successful travel photograph, apply your own take on the subject through the composition, lens and focal length that you choose.

2. Be aware of the light you shoot in 

Really great light exists twice a day,early morning and late in the day, but good light simply means that it's the best available for your subject. Assess light before approaching your subject and you'll also solve some common problems encountered when photographing people. For example, you can get them into the right light without actually moving them. As you ask for permission to take their picture, position yourself so their head will turn the way you want to enhance the light. 

3. Make assessments before asking permission

Always ask permission of your subject (it's polite and how you'd expect to be treated) but before you do, prepare your camera so its ready to go: set focal length on the zoom lens to ensure the exposure is right by looking at the light on their face and in the background, then take the shot as quickly as possible. Don't waste time by photographing people who don't have nice light on them nor have a decent background, make all those assessments first.

4. Photograph your subject in as many different situations as possible

Start by looking for head and shoulder shots where the frame is filled by zooming in to about 100 millimetres. This allows a nice frame-filling head and shoulder image without being too close but still different. Then look for other shots. Quite often there's a classic shot – the one that everybody wants to take – and it's a great creative challenge to try and shoot it differently. Once you have that, move in a little closer and try for a different angle or take. This can take a bit of on-the-ground research so plan during the day. Consider where the light may be in the morning and evening and move in very close to photograph details.

5. Photograph all subjects equally

A quick way to improve your travel photography is by photographing all subjects equally. Everybody makes a big effort to capture famous monuments and sites at the right time of day. For example, everyone will get up at sunrise to photograph the roads, morning light or the Taj Mahal but if you photograph all subjects in great light (as you have at sunrise) then you can make even ordinary street scenes, boring statues or nondescript buildings interesting and worthy of photography by treating them as you would do major attractions.

Looking for the perfect travel camera? Our travel cameras guide has all the info you need.