9 tips to take your travel photography to the next level


1. Invest in the best camera you can afford

This doesn’t mean splurging all your savings on the latest top of the range model, but it does mean researching your options carefully. If you know you have a budget of X, then read up on all the cameras that fit into your price bracket before making a decision. Bear in mind the substantial discounts you’ll get shopping in duty free stores, and treat yourself to equipment that will stand the test of time. Of course, a good camera doesn’t make a good photographer – that part is up to you.

Leica M10 in silver

Leica, Hong Kong International Airport,

2. Make sure your lens is fit for purpose

When you’re traveling, you don’t want to be lugging several lenses around with you. So your best bet will be to get a good all-rounder lens such as the OLYMPUS M.ZUIKO 45mm F1.8 which gives a lovely depth of field, or if you’re shooting on a DX Nikon, the AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-300 mm f/3.5-6.3G ED VR. It’s important to think about – not just the price – but the weight and size of your chosen lens. Pancake lenses (so called because they are flat and thin) have become increasingly popular with bloggers thanks to their sleek aesthetic appeal, and the ease with which you can transport them. No bulky camera bags needed here.

OLYMPUS M.ZUIKO 45mm F1.8 lens

Dixons Travel, London Heathrow Airport,

3. Think about light

Ask any photographer and they’ll rave about the merits of ‘golden hour’ lighting. It’s that magical time shortly after sunrise or before sunset during which daylight is at its most flattering. Now, no flash is ever going to achieve this same glowy effect but it’s worth bearing in mind the different options you have. For portraits, a ring light will give you very few shadows and a uniform lighting – a style made popular by endless fashion editorials. A ring light is also a handy tool to have for underwater photography and macro shots too.

Sigma flash macro EM – 140 DG EO – ETTL II for Canon

Camera Kitamura, Tokyo Narita International Airport,

4. Play around with composition

In the olden days (read: 20 years ago), photographers used to take sample shots on Polaroid as a quick way of assessing the lighting and set-up. Nowadays, digital cameras have display screens for instant feedback, but some photographers still like to use an instant camera to refine composition. There’s certainly something about committing an image to film that makes you think oh-so-carefully about framing, and we’d encourage anyone to give this a go.

Fujifilm INSTAX Mini 90 Camera

Dubai Duty Free, Dubai International,

5. Try a different angle

There will be times on your travels when you won’t want to bring an expensive and fragile camera with you; be it white water rafting, riding, skydiving, or even just swimming in the sea. This is when the GoPro action camera really comes into its own. Its sturdy waterproof casing means that you needn’t worry about dropping it or getting it wet, and it comes with a whole range of accessories that allow you to attach it practically anywhere. There are clamps, harnesses, suction bases, helmet attachments, and yes, even selfie sticks. So now you won’t ever have to think, “If only I brought my camera with me…”

GoPro HERO 5

Amsterdam Airport Schiphol,

6. Shoot, shoot, and shoot again

If you ever watch a pro photographer at work, you’ll see that they take hundreds of shots – only to use just a few of them in the final cut. That’s because nailing the perfect picture is easier when you have the option of choice, and this hefty memory card allows you to go trigger happy. Of course, trawling through hundreds of photos with only a slight variation is no fun either, so be sure to maintain a discerning eye when you shoot.


SanDisk Ultra 128GB Micro SDXC Memory Card With SD Adapter

Maplin, Belfast International Airport,

7. Nice and steady

Had enough of balancing your precious camera on bins and random boulders? Then it’s time to splash out on a proper tripod and get that secure, level shot. Tripods are excellent for when you want to play with shutter speed, which works particularly well for landscape photography (try capturing running water for some really cool effects). What’s more, by using a tripod to keep the camera steady, the resulting images will be sharper.

62.6″ TRIFORCE 3-Way Panhead Tripod

Brookstone, various airports within the USA and Canada,

8. Find inspiration in magzines

One of the joys of travelling is discovering new sights, but that can be easy to forget when you’re stuck on a four hour layover in an airport. So use this time to ransack the magazine shop – there’s always a magazine shop – and feast your eyes on the best works from the industry. Photography, like any creative field, is subject to trends and this will inform your own style. It’s not only specialist photography magazines that can help you improve, it’s any publication with an aesthetic that inspires you. So go forth. Be bold. Discover what makes you click (your shutter).

9. Process your images in Adobe Lightroom

Everyone has heard of Photoshop, but more and more professional photographers are turning to Lightroom for their editing needs. There are pros and cons to both pieces of software, but one of the main benefits of Lightroom is that it allows for speedy batch edits. It also has a variety of presets (like a much, much better version of Instagram filters) that let you play around with different effects. The latest version of Lightroom is available to buy as a standalone product, or you can buy Lightroom as part of the Adobe Creative Cloud subscription plan. It’s pricey, but your blog/photo album/Instagram feed will thank you for it.

Tess Harold
written by: Tess Harold
Born in Hong Kong, Tess currently lives in London where she is Editor at PretAirporter. Over the course of her career, she has worked for the likes of Stylist, The Telegraph, Prestige Hong Kong, Asia Spa and Harper’s Bazaar UK.