Taking wonderful photos makes it easy to remember and reminisce about a trip later, and pushes you out the door to explore during the trip. You might think that filling a camera bag with the best digital SLR cameras and photography gear is one of the most important steps to ensure beautiful travel photos, but if you’re an amateur photographer, these other tips are nearly as important as any specific piece of gear.

Preparation and having the right photography gear is obviously important, but once you’re in the moment, you have to focus on technique and strategy to get the photo, not on the gear you did or didn’t buy or bring.

Shoot, Shoot Now, Shoot More.

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If you stumble upon a beautiful view and a butterfly happens to alight on your child’s hand, use whatever you’re holding – your smart phone, your little point-and-shoot, or your DSLR – so you don’t miss the moment. Get comfortable snapping away quickly when once-in-a-lifetime moments present themselves. And take a lot of photos, especially of movement or action. You can take your time to practice composition and fiddle with digital SLR settings for landscape photos.

Use Your Eyes, Neck, and Feet to Find the Right Photo

Zoom lenses are terrible for amateur photographers. Instead of relying on tech to get you closer, use your feet to walk around and “zoom” manually. Shifting perspective helps you see the best version of the photo. The same goes for using your eyes to look closely and actually “see,” so you notice small details that will absolutely make a photo. And turn your head; look up and down, and crane your neck as you walk around. Life is 3D, so don’t restrict your photos to just one, 2D plane.

Compose Photos of People and Still Life Differently, But Use the Rule of Thirds

Whether you’re taking a photo of your children looking at fish in an aquarium or beautiful ruins in the jungle, don’t forget this composition basic. However, people and animals look best with different composition choices than a bowl or a flower. Typically, people benefit from the rules of thirds and need lead space. Put your aquarium-loving kids on the thirds line that creates space in front of their faces, not behind them. With ruins or other still objects, it’s more up to your discretion based on other elements and what you want to emphasize.

Follow Nature’s Cues

Follow the natural lines and shapes life presents. Mountains, buildings, and trees offer up lead lines and clear perspective points. Bodies of water create flat horizon lines. Hills and old roads are often blessed with graceful curves. These elements are ideal for structuring your photos to tell a story and lead the viewer to what you want them to see. Work with them.

Amateur travel photography is about layers of discovery. From learning about what your digital SLR camera can do to getting to know new places to growing more familiar with these tips along with all the other techniques you have to internalize, it’s a great journey. Climbing the learning curve doesn’t have to hinder you from taking awesome travel photos along the way.


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