How to Take Better Pictures When You Travel

This article was written prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. We recognize that members in many countries are currently staying close to home, and we look forward to helping people to workout and enjoy wellness experiences around the world once they feel safe and comfortable to resume travel.

When it comes to traveling, there’s nothing more important than making memories—both mental ones that you keep in your mind and physical ones that you take with your camera. Luckily, it’s easier than ever to photograph a trip, since most of us have decent cameras built within our smartphones. Even though they aren’t professional quality, even experts agree that most cameras can churn out professional-worthy photos so long as you know how to take them. Here, professional photographers share their best-kept secrets to shooting the best photos on the go.

Plan Ahead 

If you know where you’re going on vacation, you know at least some of the sites you’d like to photograph. To make sure you get all the photos you desire, Chicago-based photographer, Alicia Hickey of AYHPhoto, suggests planning ahead. “Find photos you like of a given location before traveling somewhere and pay attention to what time of day would be best (sunrise, sunset, golden hour, cloudy, sunny, night time, etc.) for photographing it,” she says. “Also, ensure you are prepared with information the rules of that location. Are tripods allowed? Are there certain times you can and cannot photograph?” Planning ahead will help ensure your time at your designated destinations is spent wisely.

Know (Your Camera) Before You Go 

Before you jet off to your vacation destination, make sure you know a thing or two about how your camera works. “One of the biggest mistakes people make is purchasing a new camera and waiting until they arrive at their destination to figure it out,” says Christine Merson, wedding photographer and founder of Christine Merson Photography. “Learning a new camera can take some time, so you want to familiarize yourself with the settings and get a feel for how it works.”

Incorporate Different Angles 

Photographer Tony Blackwell, founder of PixByBlack, recommends finding different perspectives from which to take your photos. “When taking your photos, don’t be afraid to move around and snap more than one photo,” he adds. His trick is to turn the camera vertical when photographing buildings or landscapes. “Using the foreground objects, you can build a more attractive scenery and cut unwanted stuff from your photo,” he adds.

Wake Up Early and Stay Out Late 

Here’s where you can put your night owl habit to good use. Early morning light creates amazing photos, as does evening light. “Additionally, the earlier you can get on location hopefully the less tourists that will be out,” says Blackwell. “This allows you to capture the famous landmark and its surroundings instead of just the landmark.”

Be Patient 

For every great photo you take, there will be one you don’t like, according to Hickey. “It takes time, practice and some mistakes to get the shot you’re looking for—trial and error is key,” she says. “Also, be patient before snapping a million photos and pay attention to all of the factors before taking them.” This helps ensure that you have more “good photos” than bad.

Don’t Be Afraid to Get Lost in the Moment 

While it might be inevitable that you’ll spend a lot of time trying to get the perfect angle or lighting, Keith Phillips, a photographer at Classic Photographers, reminds folks to relax when snapping away on vacation. “You should enjoy your view no matter where you are,” he says. “Candid shots that look imperfect at first glance may actually turn out to be some of your favorites when you look back on your trip.”

Jenn Sinrich is an editor in New York City, a self-proclaimed foodie always looking for the healthier version of all recipes, a passionate lover of all things cheese, a friendly New Yorker, Bostonian at heart and proud Red Sox fan. Love cats? Cheese? Mac n' Cheese? Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.