10 Travel Photography Tips

by Todd Tieman

As we head into summer you’re likely thinking about your next vacation, so we’ve complied a top ten list of things you might consider about the photography on your next trip.

Number 1, Take only what you need to survive

Less is more when it comes to camera gear and everything else you’re traveling with. Before your voyage lay out everything you think you need on the bed. Look close and think hard, edit out things that you don’t REALLY need. Then determine the right baggage and pack it all up!

Think about your last trip. Did you have too much camera gear on you? Did you use every lens, filter and accessory you brought? Did the laptop really need to come along? If much of your camera gear spent most of its time in the hotel safe then it’s probably time to consider a light Wi-Fi mirrorless camera, a premium compact or the so-called “Bridge” camera – and a tablet or smartphone instead of the heavy computer. If you’re unfamiliar with the latest, more compact camera solutions with DSLR quality, stop by, we’ll inform you all about them!


If you only have one camera with you, this pocket camera from Panasonic, the ZS100, would be an excellent choice. It has a great zoom and a 1-inch sensor for far superior pictures than any smartphone ever dreamed of. With Wi-Fi built in you can share great pictures in a flash.

Number 2, Tell a story; create a narrative
When you arrive at a new place or attraction take an establishing shot, use your widest angle to show the big picture – it will be the first shot you show and invites people to want to see more. Then get in closer and take a few shots that provide more details.

Incense StoryA colorful roadside incense stand and maker just outside Huế Vietnam.

Number 3, share your best, save the rest
With the advent of wi-fi cameras, social media and anywhere-connections, you can share your experiences as they are happening. As you go from one spot to the next, curate each attraction into just three to five pictures that encapsulate the experience and post just those selects along with an informative caption. Once you’re home you can incorporate your other images into a multimedia video slide show!

Story Telling Vietnam2

Number 4, shoot with a theme in mind
As you travel look for images that tie into a theme. Choose something that calls to you. Street signs, flowers in front of windows, man hole covers, you name it. I’ve been photographing doors for years. It started with I shot the black and white below from the hip as I entered the National Cathedral in Washington DC.


Number 5, think about direction of light & time of day
The light in the morning and evening is directional and more interesting than during mid day when the sun is high overhead. Keep that in mind as you plan your outings. If you’ve always wanted to see a particular site do some research and see what direction it faces. Then you’ll know whether to go there in the morning or late evening. Of course you will end up in situations where it’s noon and you’re somewhere interesting – you can still make a great shot!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe morning shot (left), with the light coming in from the low eastern sky has a warm and dramatic feeling compared to the noon-time shot.

Number 6, look behind you
Often you’re so into the amazing new scene surrounding you that you may miss something very obvious. Glance over your shoulder from time to time, your best shot of the day might just be right behind you.


I was so focused on the sun setting on the main Temple at Angkor Wat that I nearly missed the actual sunset behind me.

Number 7, Embrace tourists and people in your photos
Chances are high that you will not be the one and only person at a particular tourist attraction. Go ahead and use the people to help frame your shots. Instead of stressing out to get a shot without people, embrace them. They can provide scale, and the fashion will be very interesting several years later. If you absolutely have to get the shot without people try to get real low and frame up. Or use a tripod and long shutter speed to blur out the moving people.

1C627E881E554482At first I was grumpy about the people flanking Stonehenge – but now I rather like how they show the viewer how large the stones are. Shot in 1996 on Fujichrome.

Number 8, Take Verticals too
It’s never a bad idea to frame an interesting scene in both vertical and horizontal orientations. Verticals look better on smartphones and Instagram and if you’re ever so lucky to get a photo published, chances are high they will want the option of a vertical for the cover and a horizontal for the layout!
Vertical Horizontal

Number 9, Make self portraits (slightly different than selfies)
I’ve been taking self portraits for about 15 years. They may seem cliché, like selfies, but years later you’ll appreciate them in more ways than you can imagine right now. I use a tripod or GorillaPod and insist on taking them myself with the self-timer or Wi-Fi app.

SelfPortraitsIf you’re ever lucky to get to the same place twice, go make another self portrait. There’s about 11 years between the Paris shots – amazing how looking at them side-by-side gives perspective on the years that passed.

Number 10, Have fun, be in the moment
Remember that you’re on vacation. Relax, get your shots but don’t stress out. Take a picture of that beach, then go ride the waves!

DSC06952_4iPadLiuquillo Beach, Puerto Rico, 2013

Todd Tieman has been in the photo industry for many years. He’s passionate about making great pictures and telling stories through them. He started his career in Denver at Robert Waxman’s Camera and has worked as a technical marketing representative for several camera companies including Olympus, Canon, Sony & Samsung. He is now heading up marketing for Mike’s Camera and the editor of Mike’s Camera blog. Todd’s traveled all over the world with cameras in-hand, and likes exotic food, culture, dogs and giving back to the world. He’s also a big Spaceballs fan, hence the opening video. toddt@mikescamera.com

You may also like