Make travel pictures great

Make your travel photos more memorable with these tips.

One of the joys of travel is to see new places and experience other cultures. Many, if not most of us dig out our cameras to record the moment. Here are some ways to make those pictures even more memorable after the journey.

Tips from cinema
Every great movie has a sense of narrative – a beginning, middle, and an end. So do your trips. Your shots will be more interesting if you think of them as scenes from a story. You can lead up to dramatic high points by also taking pictures during quieter moments. Mix ordinary shots – breakfast table scenes, for example – in with the more adventuresome moments.

Movies also intersperse long shots – scenery, for example – with close ups. Don’t be afraid to do the same, and take pictures of small details that delight you as you travel. These can become interesting focal points in your “story” later on.

And don’t forget characters. Have you ever taken a trip only to return home to find you have hardly any shots of yourself or your companions? Or are most of your vacation photos tiny, waving people in front of grand monuments? Don’t be shy about getting in close and snapping some personal moments along the way (although etiquette of course demands that you ask anyone you intend to shoot before you do).

Themes along the way
One way to push your travel photographs beyond the ordinary is to choose a theme before you leave, and then take pictures along thematic lines as you go. For example, you could choose to take pictures of doors at each place that you stop, seeking out the beauty in both the mundane and the ornate.

Another often overlooked way to give your photographs a sense of continuity is to take pictures of signposts and entranceways as you go. Photographing markers and placards is also a great way to jog your memory about the details of things that you see and enjoy.

Look for colour
Unless your vacation actually was an experience in earth tones, it can be a surprise to return home and find that one’s most-often photographed scenes – scenery and historical sites – look drab. It seems that the moments when we thinking to take out our cameras are sometimes not the most colourful ones along the way. To spice up your shots, look for opportunities to shoot in colour.

Local festivals can be a great source of colourful shorts (you will likely need to go early to get a good position, and/or use a zoom lens so as to get close in). So can banners, logos, and of course local fruits, flowers, and market days.

Another way to inject some life into your photographs is to have a sense of play and fun. If your travel companions are willing to get in on the fun and pose for amusing scenes, so much the better (and do be sure they’re willing – candid shots may mean you’re looking for different companions the next time!) Try poses that imitate statues or themes around you in silly ways.