Common Mistakes Travel Photographers Make

With a single photograph, you’re able to take someone on your journey with you. That image will tell your viewers the story of where you’ve been and maybe even inspire them to visit the destination themselves. It’s not always easy to capture your subject and relay everything you saw and felt as you stood there, but it’s not impossible. By preventing the common travel photography mistakes mentioned below, you’ll have people really excitedly seeing your photos in no time. 

Being Too Shy

To capture great travel images, you need to conquer any shyness you may have. It’s as simple as that. 

One of the biggest reasons you’re unable to take an excellent photo during your travels is because you’re too shy to approach, talk to, and photograph people in public places. Shyness is common, especially when you’re first starting, and one of the hardest aspects to overcome is photographing other people rather than just objects or places. 

But really, what’s the worst that can happen if you approach the situation respectfully and sensibly? If you feel you must take a photo of someone, ask them. They might say no or cover their faces with their hands – heck, they might even reply rudely. Say thank you and move it along if that’s the case. Honestly, most people are flattered when you want to take their photograph and will go out of their way to pose for you. Put in an effort to get to know them since they will be an integral part of your visual story. You will capture a breathtaking moment forever – and to think you almost missed it because you were too shy to ask. 

Not Understanding Your Camera

One of the key differences between a general postcard-style travel photograph and another that speaks to the viewer with its angle and colors is that the latter captures something that an average tourist might miss. It could be a fleeting moment like when an overcrowded bus in India pulls away or when the waves at the beach hit the rocks just right.  There are only mere seconds to take that perfect photo, and if you’re not familiar with your camera, you’ll most likely miss it. 

Learn the bells and whistles of your DSLR so you can switch settings in an instant. Not knowing how your device works thoroughly is one of the biggest mistakes you can make as a travel photographer, but it’s also one that is easy to fix.

Play with different settings. Practice and take as many pictures as you can – then compare the images to see how it changed. The more experience you gain, the quicker and better you will be at scanning your surroundings and picking the best camera setting for your photograph in seconds. Sooner or later, the camera will become an extension of your arm.

Traveling With Other People

We’re not asking you to go on your honeymoon alone, but if you’re dedicating time during your travels solely to taking photographs, we strongly suggest you go alone. The entire experience becomes more strained and complicated when you’re with a partner, friends, family, or a tour group, and that strain becomes visible in the result of your photo. 

This tip doesn’t apply if your group, too, has an interest in photography. They must also be there to capture images as well. Still, otherwise, most people just don’t have the enthusiasm and patience necessary to take a good picture. You’ll lose focus or feel rushed if you’re surrounded by people who look bored and are just waiting around for you to finish. In the end, they don’t enjoy your trip, and you don’t get the photo you want. Set aside some time where you can go off on your own and capture your surroundings at your own pace, or better yet, plan an entire solo vacation around your camera. 

Not the Right Time

Remember when elders used to tell you that “there is a time and a place for everything” – that’s never been more real than when you’re taking travel photographs. Say, for example, it’s cloudy and gloomy on one of the days you set aside to walk around with your camera. There’s no point spending that day trying to capture the perfect cityscape since clouds will cover everything in a blanket of gray overcast, and you won’t get the stunning image you want. Instead, focus on photographing close up objects and portraits of people so that the muted lighting and lack of harsh shadows will be beneficial to your result.  

Understanding how light plays an integral role in your travel images will help you maximize the time you spend. It will teach you how to adapt and make the best of the conditions you find yourself in. 

Small Details and a Sense of Scale

It is so easy for people to get caught up in the amazingly beautiful scenery that surrounds them and overlook the smaller details that make an impact. As a travel photographer, your goal should be to capture those itty-bitty details that are often missed and to make them the subject of your photograph for others to appreciate. It’s usually these specific features that enhance the feelings your photograph can conjure. 

That said, travel photographers also make mistakes when trying to capture the sheer and overwhelming size of a large subject. The magnitude of a tall building or statue will not be portrayed in your picture if no scale or reference point allows the viewer to distinguish size. To replicate the feeling you get when standing in the presence of the towering object onto a photo, you need to include something that a person recognizes the size of such as people, wildlife, cars, etc. To prove my point, look at a photo of the Statue of Liberty and then look at a picture of the same figure with a ship sailing on the water beside it – you’ll see the difference immediately.

The output of your work is guaranteed to improve by avoiding these common mistakes made when taking photographs. Like anything worth doing, taking travel photographs that stir feelings in the people seeing them takes time, patience, and practice. No better time to start practicing then the present, so book a cheap flight from one of the many resources listed on TravelSites.com and start now.

Additional Resources:

Travel Photography Guide: 12 Easy Tips To Instantly Improve Your Images

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