It’s that special time of year! We are in the throws of summer which means your Instagram feed is absolutely inundated with friends’ trips to tropical locations you’ve never heard of. It is both endlessly entertaining and a bit depressing. The only solution? Get yourself a plane ticket, dust off your camera, and hit the road. Travel photography #goals await.

We spoke with travel and lifestyle guru Ilona Izabella and Sony Artisan Tony Gale about how to to take stellar travel shots on the beach and in the streets.

Do Your (Historical) Research

History enthusiasts often choose their destination locations based on interesting historical locations. For the rest of us, there’s Wikipedia. Before you land, have a few places in mind that you want to photograph. Perhaps more importantly, understand the historical significance of those places.Β 

“I like to read about the history of a destination or about some of the sights to have some knowledge of the place I am visiting which I can use for my photography as well,” said Ilona Izabella. Izabella, an Amsterdam native, is a frequent visitor to cities steeped in history like Budapest, Prague, and Copenhagen.Β 

Knowing which historical spots to hit or what small features to look for helps Izabella “focus on the details of history that are still visible.” It can also help non-natives avoid cultural gaffes or worse.

Check Out Other Travel Photographers

We recommend doing travel research online and (gasp) in tangible guide books. However, Izabella recommends that you avoid the pitfall of viewing too many “perfect pictures” on travel websites or photography magazines.Β 

“I look for “real” pictures taken by locals or other travelers,” she says. “Instagram is my biggest source of inspiration to get a first idea of the destination and to find hotspots that I want to go to.”

Practice Patience When Possible

Traveling is stressful. If you have a tight itinerary, it’s easy to look past the beauty of the moment and get distracted by travel logistics. Funnily enough, the key to slowing down, focusing on your trip, and enjoying travel photography is both obvious and incredibly difficult to accomplish: you need to relax.Β 

Do some yoga, meditate, go for a run; do whatever it takes to calm down before you go shoot. Once you’ve reached a state of zen, hit the street (or beach).

“For my street photography I mostly use the people that are already there so the photos come out naturally,” says Izabella. “If I stumble upon a place that I want to photograph, but there are no people, I sometimes wait for someone to pass by or I ‘create’ the scene I want to photograph by asking a friend to walk there or photograph me when I walk there.”

Planning a quick β€œcandid” moment is great if you can pull it off. However, you often just have to go with the flow. “When I photograph a street musician, I do not interrupt them to ask for a photo,” says Izabella. “I take my candid moment and leave them some money as a thank you, or sometimes buy their CD.”

Bring the Right Gear

 

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The “right” gear is totally dependent on what you want to shoot when you travel. For street photography, 50mm or 35mm lenses are classic standbysβ€”and a tripod makes a big difference if you can fit it in with your other travel gear.Β 

However, if you plan to shoot landscapes, Sony Artisan Tony Gale recommends a few accessories in particular. “I bring a Sony a7RIII, a Sony 12-24/4 G, a Sony 100-400/4.5-5.6 G Master, a Sony 2x tele extender and a Gitzo Traveler tripod,” he says. “I’ll also bring a lighting trigger, an X-Rite Color Checker Passport and possibly Polarizing and ND filters. Plus extra SD cards and batteries.”

Take A Gander At Google Maps

 

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Before you walk out into the wilderness, Gale recommends consulting Google Maps to get a lay of the land. “If it’s a National Park, I will use the REI app for ideas as well,” says Gale. “I will also typically do a Google Image search, partially for ideas and partly so I don’t make the same photos everyone else does. There is also a website called Loaded Landscapes that has suggestions for places. Checking weather is important as well!”Β 

The more effort you put into preparing for your trip, the more wiggle room you’ll have when it comes to taking the best travel pictures. Remember to be patient and do your research, but don’t spend too much time flipping through photography magazines. If you do, use those photos as a launchpad rather than a guidebook. Put some thought into what gear makes sense for your shots, and (of course) check the weather!

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