Creative Travel Photography Tips
Hello all my artsy friends and welcome to a brand new month on the Scrapaneers Blog! It is the beginning of June (how on earth did that happen?) and the start of summer travel season, so the Peers thought it would be a great time to share some travel tips. We have a month packed full of travel-inspired tips and tutorials to get you thinking about how to creatively memorialize your travel adventures. I am starting things off with some travel photography tips – so come on in and join me . . .
When you are planning a travel adventure, there are many things involved – transportation, packing, hotel, pet sitting arrangements, pre-trip shopping, etc. With all that is involved in arranging a big trip, we often forget to create a photography plan. We just pack up our camera of choice and assume that the photos will come when we get there. To some extent this is true, but just a little bit of creative planning can result in amazing travel albums to memorialize your adventure.
We recently traveled to Paris, France and I wanted to share some of my planning process with you – including my top five (5) suggestions for creative travel photography.
1. Camera Gear
Most of us probably have a dSLR-type of camera with interchangeable lenses. I always take this camera with me along with my 24-105mm lens (which I use most of the time) and my 70-200mm (telephoto) lens. In addition to my dSLR, I also take a smaller pocket sized camera. While in Paris, I used my iPhone as my small camera and it worked great. The advantage to using your camera phone is that you can get specialized snap on lenses to use with it. I brought along a wide angle snap on lens that was great for capturing city view and landscape photos (it is also handy for selfies if you get one that can be placed over either the front or the back camera). I carried the dSLR when we were going to locations where I knew I would want to use it – climbing to the top of the Arc de Triomphe or traveling to Mont Saint Michele. I relied on the much lighter and easier to carry iPhone camera when we were exploring the city and away from the hotel all day.
The decision of whether to take the bulkier but more professional dSLR camera really depends on what your photography goals are and whether it fits with everything else you are taking along. Because I limited the number of lenses I brought along with me, I was able to fit everything in a smallish camera bag so it made sense to take it along with me. I also wanted to get some higher resolution RAW images of Paris so there was no way I was leaving my dSLR at home.
2. GPS Tracking App
This is a recommendation borne from experience and I will never travel without one again. The iPhone photography app that I use (ProCamera) has the ability to insert GPS information on each photo. This information is amazing for journaling and to help you remember the location where your photos were taken. Sometimes, location is obvious (like the Eiffel Tower), but that is not true for the “off the beaten path” photos. I didn’t realize how much I would appreciate this information until I had it. Getting GPS information on your phone camera is fairly easy (and sometimes automatic). However, dSLR cameras require a bit more coordination. I suggest doing some research about your camera prior to the trip and determining whether app or attachable GPS device works best for you. I will definitely be doing this before our next big travel adventure.
3. Wide Angle Shots
When I am taking travel photos, I’m always thinking about how those photos will work in my travel album or on individual pages about the trip. One thing that I’ve found to be helpful for page design is to make sure that I get some wide angle shots. I tend to focus on filling the frame with a specific subject, and sometimes neglect the wider angle photos. However, those photos are really important for providing context to the close up photos. Wide angle photos also look amazing blended into a background.
Here are a couple of examples. This page includes a wide angle shot of the Louvre with a tighter angle blended into the background:
And this page has a wide angle shot as the focal photo providing context to the tighter angle photo of the stairs leading to the top of the Arc de Triomphe where the focal photo was taken.
4. Journaling While on the Road
I highly suggest writing your thoughts down regarding the day’s events each evening (or while you are taking a break at lunch, or standing in line for the next big attraction). I always think that I will remember everything that happened and the order in which it happened when I am creating a travel album after the fact, but I never do. I learned long ago to make notes of each day’s events in the moment so that I won’t forget about it later. Your daily journaling could be as short as a list of day’s attractions or events, or as involved as writing your thoughts and feelings about those same things. This would also be a great time to get “in the moment” quotes from your kids or significant other or their thoughts about the day. This information is pure journaling gold when you start the process of creating a travel album. Whatever schedule works for you, just try to get some description of the events while you are on location. Worst case scenario, you could do this on the return flight or in the car on the way home.
Many times I will get page ideas when I am out and about taking photos, or as I am sifting through the photos at the end of the day. I try to write these ideas down along with my end of the day journaling and sometimes will even sketch out a page design. I also try to keep design ideas in mind when I am reviewing my photos at the end of each day. There have been times when I realized that I wanted additional photos of a particular location for creative purposes and was able to take those photos before the trip ended.
Kat and Yobeth also have some great tips for keeping track of your activities in their posts later this month, so be sure to check back for those!
5. Creative Photo Angles
One of my photography goals on the trip to Paris was to try to get some unique and interesting shots of some of the quintessential landmarks. Of course, no one ever visits Paris without getting at least one (or 100) photos of the Eiffel Tower. I took some head on shots from different locations, but my favorite Tower photos were taken from side streets with other elements framing the Tower. When you are traveling and photographing iconic landmarks or locations (or even everyday life), try to find a unique angle for your photograph that takes in the entire mood and scene. These angles make the photos so much more personal than a head on shot of the Eiffel Tower (which you can readily find online anytime).
The photo on this page was taken from a side street. Instead of just remembering the Eiffel Tower every time I see this photo, I will also remember the street we were walking down, the soccer game taking place on a field right behind us and the moments we shared during that time.
And the photo on this page focuses more on the Eiffel Tower, but also incorporates the surrounding foliage and scenery:
I hope these tips help when planning your next great travel adventure! Be sure to check back throughout the month for more travel-inspired posts. 🙂
Until next time ~