One of the (okay, perhaps the only) exciting post-trip tasks is downloading the hundreds of photos you took. There’s nothing like experiencing the journey over and over and sharing some key images with friends and family.
But what if the photos are less than fabulous?
Well, you can’t do much to salvage poorly exposed or out-of-focus shots. If, however, your photos are lacking the breathtaking response you were aiming for, you can try some new techniques and have more success next time.
Composition: What are you trying to capture? The way sunlight streams across a field? A lively street scene? Determine what mood you’re trying to evoke or what narrative you’re trying to tell, then experiment with different ways to convey it. Isolate the subject with light or color. Get up close, get further away. Turn your camera so you’re shooting vertically. Bend your knees to get low to the ground, stand on something sturdy and shoot from up high. Move around!
While garbage, power lines and traffic might not generally be welcome in your screen, do not automatically dismiss people. Including people in your images can convey emotions, show customary dress or communicate the vibe of a place.
Light: Photography is really all about light. What kind of light is available to you? Is it harsh noontime light? Is it soft morning light? Harsh light creates deep shadows and a lot of contrast whereas soft light is gentler.
Remember that light directs the eye. If you want to draw attention to your subject, place it in direct lighting. If you want to emphasize texture, try to capture the light from the side. If you don’t like the available natural light, try shooting at a different time of day.
The moment: Wait for the right moment to shoot. Have patience while an elderly couple lingers in front of the pond or while a group of backpackers captures the Taj Mahal from every angle. The wait will be worth it.
Atmosphere: What is going on around you? Look up from your camera and observe. Steam, rain, snow, fog and reflections can create unexpected results. What do you see?
Details: Look closely. Is there anything that would make your image more compelling? Are there any colors or textures that stand out? Or maybe there’s a prop such as food that would help tell the story?
Think of your favorite travel images, taken either by you or someone else. What is it that drew you to them? Is there a common subject, maybe sweeping landscapes, colorful food or animated people? Did the photographer capture an interesting angle or flattering lighting? If you have an idea of what you prefer, you can seek to create similar effects or incorporate the characteristics into your own work.
Try a few of these on your next trip to bring your photography to a new level!
Have you ever been disappointed with your travel photographs? What are some of your favorite photography techniques? What camera do you use?