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12 tips for better travel photos

When we asked for feedback on the blog we got a lot of comments that we showcase great photos, and one reader even asked if we could share tips on how to take better travel photos. At first we thought "we can't do that, we're not photographers". Then we thought again and realised that we've probably learnt a lot over the years and might still have some tips to share.


So here are our personal tips, based entirely on our own personal experience. There will be no advice on shutter speeds and settings, but some thoughts and ideas on how you can easily get better looking photos with better and more fun subjects. Feel free to share your best tips!

1. Get a good camera

A good camera is far from everything, but it helps. Today's mobile phone cameras are relatively good and many of our tips can be applied to a mobile phone camera. If you want to take really good pictures, and have a few more options, it's worth investing in a system camera.

Peter has a Samsung Galaxy NX and Helena has a Nikon D5200 (Poland 2016).

2. Go close

Don't be afraid to get close! Sometimes a sky, a beach or a crowd of people is an important part of the composition, and these areas should of course take up space in the picture. Other times, the focus is on a person, an animal or a gadget, and in these cases you often gain by getting closer and avoiding a lot of "unnecessary" surroundings around the subject. Sometimes you can even cut a piece of the person's face to really get into the picture.

Porträtt med mycket färger (Marocko 2014)
Close-up portrait, with lots of colours (Morocco 2014)

3. make sure there are things happening in the image

Many photos can be technically excellent, but still become boring. This is easy to happen, for example, when photographing landscapes and nature. Often this is because it is not hands something in the image. Always look for something that makes the image exciting. Sometimes it can be something quite small, like a flower in the foreground that has lost a few leaves or a bird looking out over the sea.

Other times it can be fun to take pictures where lots of things are happening at once: trams opening their doors to new passengers, mops trying to get between stationary cars and people carrying shopping bags. Another thing to keep in mind is that pictures are often more interesting when the subject is not right in the centre, but slightly to the right or left of the frame.

Utan husbussen och det unga paret skulle landskapsbilden vara väldigt tråkig (Frankrike 2015)
Without the bus and the young couple, the landscape would be very boring (France 2015).

4. Keep track of the background

Often you have a main subject for the photo, but it's also important to know what's in the background. Sometimes you want the background to be as clean as possible. Other times, it can be fun with life and movement, and sometimes you manage to include an extra fun detail. Above all, it can be good to make sure that people in the background don't lose a head or just show their nose in the picture.

Huvudfokus på Peter, men många intressanta detaljer i bakgrunden (Kenya)
Main focus on Peter, but many interesting details in the background (Kenya 2012)

5. capturing everyday life and mishaps

When you're travelling, you want to take pictures of the beautiful beach, the sunset and the charming boats in the harbour, which is great! But it can also be fun to document the more mundane, or the things that don't go as planned. Don't forget to take photos when you have to spend the night at an airport because of delays, when the kids are playing cards in the hotel room, or when your car breaks down and you have to wait for a tow truck.

Foto missöde
Peter checks out some serious damage to the campervan ... (Italy 2011)

6. Join in yourself - sometimes

Is it fun to just take selfies while travelling? No, of course not. But it can also be boring and impersonal if you never see the "main characters" in pictures. Don't just take photos in front of the Eiffel Tower and the pyramids, but take photos of each other when you're travelling. do something. Occasionally, it may be worth using the selfie stick or asking someone else to take a picture of you together.

Vi lever hippieliv under vår Europa runt-resa i husbilen
Camping and living the hippie life during our Europe-wide campervan trip (Croatia 2015)

7. Avoid the 'classics' - be creative instead

The first time someone wrote "he trembles like an aspen leaf" it was creative and neat. Every time someone repeats it, it's a boring and poor imitation. It's exactly the same with photos! Feet in the sunbed in front of the sea may have been fun once, but not anymore. It just feels like you've seen the picture before.

The worst thing right now is what's on so many travel blogs, namely girls from behind in hats dreamily looking out over a beach/forest/city. This was certainly creative and innovative once upon a time, but now it's just ... tiring. The tip is to come up with anything, as long as you don't do exactly the same as everyone else.
Peter hittar trilobiter i öknen (Marocko 2014)
Peter finds trilobites in the desert (Morocco 2014)

8. When shooting views - include a foreground

You've probably been there. You go up to a vantage point, get a great view and take lots of photos, which are then ... super boring. Views are beautiful in real life, but are often flat, boring and uninteresting in photos. Try to include something in the foreground, such as a tree branch or a cat, to add depth and dimension to the image.

The red flowers in the foreground make the image more interesting (Portugal 2015).

9. try a different angle

A different angle can sometimes do wonders for a photo. Many times it can be effective to put the camera at the same height as the subject, i.e. to take a picture of the flower from the front instead of from above. It may also be worth trying to photograph your subject from the side, at an angle, or focusing on some small detail in the big picture.

Bilar på Classic Grand Prix Malta
Here we have photographed cars from a lower perspective - which gives a slightly different result (Malta 2016).

10. Avoid lightning - even in the dark

Flash photography often produces a "cold" light and it is easy for people to get red eyes. Our tip is to take photos without a flash, even in the evening when it's a bit dark. A good camera will be able to capture the available light and the images will have much warmer and more beautiful colours.

The challenge is to avoid blurring, which is easy to do. You have to hold the camera really still, or use a tripod, and take lots of pictures. If someone or something moves in any of the pictures, it will be blurred, so it's good to have a lot of pictures to choose from.

Viking Line kryssning
Camera captures beautiful colours at night - if you avoid flash (Sweden-Åland 2016)

11. Photographing food with a macro lens

We think food is an important part of travelling, so we like to document some of the dishes we eat. However, a boring steak and chips is pretty boring to look at, no matter how good the photo is.

One tip is to only take photos of food that stands out in some way - by being exotic, differently composed or perhaps extra nicely presented. We've also noticed that our food photos look best when Peter uses his macro lens.

Extra fancy tuna - photographed with a macro lens

12. Edit quickly and easily

Editing the images slightly can improve the quality a lot, but you don't need expensive software or advanced skills. We edit in the programmes that are included in the basic version of the computer.

I (having a PC) open my pictures with "Microsoft Office". There you can reduce or increase brightness, reduce or increase contrast and reduce or increase saturation. That goes a long way!

Före redigering
Before editing (France 2015)
Efter redigering
After editing (France 2015)

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