8 travel photo insider secrets

#TravelTuesday has come around again, and I’m right here as always to impart some of the bountiful wisdom filed amongst the mayhem in my mind! It really has been mayhem, too. I moved home this past week, heading out of the big smoke that is London and landing nice and gently in the Great British countryside. It’s fabulous to be able to see the stars again, but I’ve hit a brick wall with my internet provider – Vodafone, if you’re wondering. The connection date was exactly one week ago and I still have no internet. I’m resorting to coffee shops to hop on Wi-Fi in order to do all that I need to do online, which is slowing me down a lot, so my apologies for any glitches in regular service! Anyway, I’m Dave Williams, and I’m going to share some travel photography insider secrets with you today! Let’s do this!

Now, in the world of travel photography, the shooter has many skills but fits them all into one job – to make the viewer want to be in the picture! There are tips and tricks within the trade to help create an image which achieves that result and sells, and today eight of those insider secrets from my years of shooting travel are yours, gratis!

1 – Turn around!

There’s almost always a great view in the opposite direction. It’s very, very common to turn up somewhere at a tourist location and see everyone facing one way, usually at a spot labelled “sunset point” or “scenic vista” on Google Maps. These places aren’t wrong – they tend to afford an incredible viewpoint over whichever location you’re in and going hand-in-hand with them there’s usually a snack shop, souvenir stall, car park, and ease of access for all. One thing I’ve seen taken to some extremes and which is 99% true is that there’s also a nice view where people aren’t looking. Go against the grain, pull out your rebellious side, and see what’s behind the crowd. Don’t be the sheep – take a step away from the average tourist and get the shot people aren’t getting!

2 – Avoid touristy shots

On a par with number one, and a piece of advice I’ve given time and time again in blog posts, articles, and face to face, is this one: don’t shoot tourist shots! If you shoot what everyone else is shooting, it’s really, really, really difficult to make that image captivating. It’s really difficult to have it stand out amongst the crowd in a portfolio or in a stock catalogue. Here’s the background: the starting point of moving away from the tourist shot is to think like a tourist in order to stop thinking like a tourist! A tourist takes out a camera, faces forward, brings the camera up to eye level, and shoots with the subject centre frame. Think about that. ;)



3 – Put people there

Now, don’t tell her, but this is something I often to and fro with, with Stephanie Richer. She firmly believes that putting a person in the frame is what should be done and she’s absolutely right. (But, don’t tell her I said that!) It’s probably the easiest way to make your shot unique, and side by side with that it can help to convey emotion, scale, and a story. Further to that, the pose or activity the person is doing can change the story altogether. For example, putting a person running in the image will give it so much more energy, or putting a couple in the photo can show a harmonious solitude.

4 – Check before you leave

There have been far too many times that I’ve been somewhere cool and have come back to find I screwed up the focus or didn’t compose quite how I intended to because I didn’t check the frame after I shot it. Having spent time and hard cash getting to the location, its the last thing you want. It can all come to light when you submit to a stock agency and have it rejected because of a technical or creative error, so check your shot every time to make sure you nailed it!



5 – Close in

One thing I’ve heard Scott say time and again is this: “Get tighter!” He’s absolutely on the money, and if you think that your shot isn’t good enough, try it out. Just get closer. Crop in on something within the frame, or on the subject you’re already on and notice the difference. It’s more detailed, more intimate, and just better.

6 – Lose the embarrassment

One thing common among photographers is an embarrassment or shyness. It’s weird, but it’s true. Don’t be afraid to get in there, shoot people, stand out from the crowd, and get something unique and personal. Sometimes, when it comes to shooting people, it’s a very good idea to ask. You’ll usually get a positive response and getting used to asking strangers for a photo will make it easier the next time, and the next time.



7 – Shoot blue

Blue sells! Have you noticed? Next time you’re in WH Smiths or Barnes and Noble, take a look at the covers of the travel magazines and travel guidebooks. There’s a very common theme running through the majority of them and it’s the colour blue. Photography magazines with landscapes will have dark, deep tones and moody skies, whereas travel magazines will have blue skies and blue water. Blue sells in travel.

8 – Right place, right time

This can’t always be pre-planned, and often the best shots are the ones you didn’t intend to take, however, it’s important to be in the right place at the right time as far as you can. Know when the sun is rising and setting, know which direction it’ll be in, and put yourself in the right place by planning properly. The rest will all fall into place!

If you have any more travel photography tips, I’d love to hear them! You can find me on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook :)

Much love


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