OK, here goes – the first of the Travel Photography Tips! Some of these may seem overly simple or obvious, but I’ve included them because, from past experience, they are things that everyone (including me) needs to be reminded of now and then.
This first tip definitely falls into this category – it’s simple but fundamental, and worth remembering!
Travel Photography Tip #1: Take pictures of the stories you want to tell
I’ve lost count of the number of times someone has been showing me pictures from a recent holiday, and, after passing me a nice picture of a Iconic Location / Famous Statue / Magnificent Vista, immediately launches into a story about the great little bar just around the corner from the Iconic Location, or the way the stray cats at the Famous Statue would wind around their ankles, or how they got completely lost looking for the train station on the way to said Magnificent Vista and ended up squashed between two grandmothers carrying geese on the local bus. Unfortunately, their travel photos don’t show any of this.
It’s easy to get seduced into in the mindset that great travel photography is about taking great pictures of Iconic Locations (etc), but for most people, the most important purpose of travel photography is to capture your memories of a place, and to show to friends and family back home (accompanied by many long and winding tales of your adventures, of course!).
From that perspective, the key to great travel photography is taking pictures of the things you want to remember and share – and that’s not just the postcard locations, but the wonderful place where you had dinner, and the giant lemons in the street stalls, or the time when the roof of your hotel room collapsed onto your bed.
Take pictures of these as well, and your overall experience of travel photography will be much richer. Not only will you have pictures that capture the iconic side of your destination, but you will have pictures that show your experience of your destination, which is much more compelling viewing, both for your friends and family and your future self.
So as you go about your holiday, when you find yourself looking forward to telling someone at home what you just experienced, consider taking a picture that captures what you want to share. When it comes time to share your adventures, your loved ones at home will thank you for it, as will the future you.