Travel Photography Tips for Bloggers
Ready for your next wheels-up adventure and need a bit of inspiration? Or better yet - you probably just need some practical tips for making sure you nail your light and airy photos with style.
travel photo problems
When you get to your dream destination, something I like to call creative decision paralysis can set in. It's typically handled in one of two ways:
1) You take photos of everything. And I mean everything. You take so many photos that your camera can hardly keep up and now you feel just slightly overwhelmed by the number of photos you have to cull. Let's not even get started on using up all the precious memory card space while on vacation.
2) You take photos of nothing. Everything is so beautiful and inspiring that you feel like you don't even know where to start. You end up leaving your camera in your bag most of the time and wondering if it's really that necessary to pull out your camera during dinner.
Let's keep you far, far away from these two extremes. No need to have your camera in front of your pretty face the whole time you're on vacation and no need to have no clue where to start. Here are the must-knows when it comes to your travel adventures.
Well, maybe not everything you'll need to know while traveling. I don't talk about food, hiking, where to find your vacay coffee shop or the possibility of meeting a shark while snorkeling. So here's what you need to know when it comes to photographing your travel adventures.
Better. Definitely much better. Can't even imagine giving you advice on avoiding sharks, gators, bears and all the other things that seem to be lurking nearly everywhere. (Have you seen those crazy videos on Instagram? Don't. Just don't look.) I'd just have to tell you to stay inside.
Back to taking those travel photos...
1) Shoot the big and the small
I've never been to Greece, but it's on the list and I don't mind the classic sea-of-white-homes against the dark blue sea one bit! It's become a classic of sorts on Instagram and it makes me think it might just be time to pack my bags and book a flight with my husband. And, you know, we'd probably want to bring our littles!
Wherever you're traveling, those grand photos are a must.
But when you pair those grand photos of the mountains with a small detail nearby? Or the architecture in Europe with something simple? Magic happens.
And by magic, I mean a really interesting blog reader phenomenon happens: people stop scrolling to look at both images.
So look around you while you're traveling. Take a simple photo of the sky to remind you what the clouds looked like that day. Take a photo of the smallest detail in D.C.
Then, take those small details and those big details and pair them up in BlogStomp before you upload them to your blog post!
2) Shoot the small details straight on
Approach your travel photo game just like you would any editorial shoot - get the far away shots and then move in.
I like to take a shot of the smaller details straight on (like the wood below) and then walk to the side to get an interesting angle. When you mix the two, you end up with a couple of photos that belong in a magazine layout. And believe me: your work definitely belongs in a magazine, friend.
Here's a quick little video to show you what I mean about getting a more creative shot. Take a look at tip #2...
3) Look through your camera and walk forward
Ready to spice things up just a bit?!
Switch your camera to manual mode and look through the viewfinder while you walk forward. You can use the focusing ring to manually bring your image into focus.
It might take some time to get used to, but you'll find a natural movement that will make your people (blog readers, instagram scrollers) stop and take notice.
This works whether you're shooting editorial work, photographing your latest coffee mug obsession (emoji: raising my hand), taking photos of food or just needing to nail that photo while you're traveling through Europe.
Or the mountains. Isaac and I were on a youth mission trip to Colorado and walking around a giant lake when he promised to take me back. We were just babies: 15 and 16 years old! It's a favorite spot for us and you'll catch us hanging there with my Uncle (and my fam if they hop on a flight with us) from time to time!
4) Shoot through windows and other objects
Bring your foreground into the foreground. This shot of Abe Lincoln is one of my all time favorites because I've never seen anyone else take the shot. It was the only place where there weren't hundreds of people standing around to take photos and... it's just a favorite.
I'm all about clearing clutter from an image and opening a window to get that crystal clear shot. But before you do that, try shooting through the object in your way. Or use the object to help frame the subject.
5) Don't always crop out the "junk"
Seriously, if you need someone to move a purse out of the way before the bride slips into her wedding dress, I'm your girl. It's part of being an artist: you choose what to leave in an image and what to cut.
Take a couple of steps forward to avoid the trashcan lurking at the bottom of that driveway (however, you can still learn a lot about light from trash cans).
Take a photo from a distance to minimize the power lines that seem to be hanging in front of the most beautiful mountain range.
And sometimes, don't move or take out anything.
Sometimes the "junk" is the best way to tell the story. So don't cut all of it all of the time. If you find yourself constantly cutting out the real stuff from your photos, challenge yourself to take a few documentary style photos every time you pull out your camera. How would your grandma take the photo?
When I took the photo below, it felt physically hard to not crop out the guard rail when I was taking this photos. Okay, maybe not physically hard but it definitely took mental focus.
After I asked myself how my grandma would take the image, I realized she'd leave that guard rail (in all its glory) in the photo and not think another thing about it. And so I love it.
Sometimes the "junk" tells a better story than we thought was there.
Sidenote: How crazy film-like is this image? Tweak those greens just a bit, add a little light and airy preset (totally FREE) action and you'll be well on your way.
This was edited with the Fuji Modern preset that's coming to our entire Light & Airy Preset family so soon!
6) Shoot vertical
Shooting vertical is every blogger's secret. After all, we want our images pinned away like crazy so we can maybe sort of see one of our posts on the "trending" section of Pinterest, right?
When I was in high school, I wondered why in the world someone would shoot mostly vertical images. It didn't make sense to me... because I was photographing sports. And I was taking photos that could be used on the school website, in the senior dvd or in the yearbook. In other words, we needed horizontal images.
When I jumped into wedding photography, I quickly learned that vertical is where it's at. Not only will editors of major blogs and magazines love you for those vertical images, they just look darn good when you're laying them out in an album. Or putting together a gallery wall (vertical draws your eye upward).
Look at any blogger you love to follow and I bet that a large portion of their traffic comes from Pinterest. Jumping up and down and waiving my hands on this one! Pinterest is a power house when it comes to web traffic.
7) Photograph yourself
Hey you gorgeous, strong, courageous woman, you! Don't forget to hop in front of the camera while you travel. Don't forget to get in front of the camera every week.
I totally get it - I used to pride myself on hanging behind the scenes.
From a personal point of view: your family wants the memories and they want you in the photos.
From a professional and business point of view: GET IN FRONT OF THE CAMERA! Your people need to put a face to a name.
Don't let insecurity or fear hold you back from stepping in front of the camera. Don't let fear hold you back from writing that encouraging caption, nailing your blog content and finally setting up a content calendar or tackling your biggest dreams.
Great things are ahead, friend.
Now, go get in front of that camera!