Best 10 Ways to Improve Your Travel Photography Portraits

Get the most out of your travel photography and capture the moment with these 10 simple tips. Most of these tips are pretty basic and some of them are useful for traveling in general.

1 – Focus on faces

Sounds obvious I know, but whether it’s wildlife or people, it’s often best to focus your lens on the face of of your most important subject. We are naturally drawn to eyes, so that’s where you’ll usually want to focus.

10 Ways to improve your travel photography

2 – Shoot fast

Photographing people in fascinating cultural situations requires a totally different mindset to shooting landscapes.

Forget your tripod, forget low ISO settings and think less about image quality and more about capturing the moment. Be ready, by relying on your autofocus and fast shutter speeds to freeze the action. Handheld is the way to go because you just don’t have the time to be fiddling around with tripods.

In bright sunlight you’ll get away with ISO settings between 400 and 1000 but when the light starts to get low, don’t be afraid to crank that ISO way up into the thousands.

Use wider apertures like f/2.8 to achieve faster shutter speeds and get a pleasing shallow depth of field to accentuate your main subject. Shooting in Aperture Priority mode (AV) lets you quickly dial in the desired aperture while your camera decides on the shutter speed.

If your lens has some kind of vibration reduction be sure to switch that on when going handheld.

Travel Photography tips

3 – Learn the lingo

Take at least a few hours while traveling to learn the basic language skills for your location. Knowing how to say ”Hello, excuse me, please, thank you, sorry, yes, no,” etc., goes a long way even in countries where English is spoken in tourist areas.

Having some basic language skills can make a huge difference to the type of access you’ll get, and the things you’ll get to see. Language opens doors that would otherwise be closed to the average tourist.

4 – Hire a translator or guide

Getting access to people’s everyday lives is often difficult if you don’t know any locals, especially if it’s your first time at a particular location. Consider hiring a guide or translator so that you can communicate with locals on a deeper level than just knowing the basic phrases.

I’ve done this a few times and you sometimes get to make great friends with your guides, who will be happy to introduce you to interesting people and places.

Travel Photography Tips

5 – Smile and make friends

When taking pictures of strangers or communicating with locals, don’t be a dour faced tourist. Smiling is universal and softens what might otherwise be an intimidating approach to people who have little experience with adventurous foreigners.

If you want people to like you, a smile is a good place to start.


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