Learn the best travel photography tips from this pro photographer – her favorite camera, the best travel photography backpack and how to take good travel photos!
Over the past three years, my family and I have had the amazing opportunity of living abroad in northern Italy. During this time, we have seized every chance we’ve had to travel through Europe, and as a family, we’ve visited 18 countries. Through these adventures I’ve learned how to take good travel photos that I can look back on and cherish.
Traveling has always been a passion and interest of mine, and getting to experience it with my two young children has been both rewarding and challenging. As a photographer, I want to capture everything we see, while also remaining present and not carrying tons of heavy equipment. I also want to preserve the memories of my children in these stunning places so that even if they do not remember being there, they have that image to look back on and say “I’ve been there”.
Below I will share a few travel photography tips for beginners that have helped make travel photography more enjoyable for me as both a tourist and as a busy mom.
Travel Photography Tips
1- Travel light. I am a part time freelance photographer, so I typically use a large and heavy DSLR for my work. It quickly became apparent to me that this wouldn’t work for me while traveling with my children. I made the decision to purchase a smaller and more lightweight mirrorless camera (I use an Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II with a zoom lens) that I can easily throw in my bag when I’m not using it. Sometimes I even use my iPhone and have gotten great shots this way too. The best camera is the one available (and most convenient) for you!
If you have a DSLR and are looking for a good travel photography lens here are some suggestions on what might be the best fit for you, your travels and traveling light. Sometimes I have to just decide what my all around goal is in the travel/vacation and go with the one lens that best fits my goals.
Travel Photography Backpack
2- Invest in a comfortable travel photography backpack. This goes hand in hand with traveling light. A backpack is easy for me to carry while chasing my children and my camera fits perfectly inside with all the snacks and wipes and toys I carry with me on trips. I use a Kipling brand Ravier backpack and it has heavy duty zippers and easy to clean fabric.
Travel Photo Ideas
3- Keep composition in mind while setting up your shot, but don’t let it always be the rule. As a photographer, the “Rule of Thirds”, or basically splitting a photo into 3 sections and making sure that the subject in your images is on one of those 3 planes, is something that becomes second nature. But I’m happy to break this if I’m really drawn to the way something looks to me at the time. I’m a sucker for symmetrical imagery, as well as directional shots that make me(or whoever is looking at my pictures) feel like they are traveling around with us.
4- Don’t feel the pressure to get the “perfect” shot. Sometimes it’s just not possible. Children get tired, weather acts up, other tourists are crowding your area. I tend to love pictures of my kids just being themselves and often that can include tears or grumpiness, especially from my second child. I have a picture of him crying on the train the first time we went to Venice. It’s funny to look back on now but it’s just how that day went.
P.S. It’s ok if your kids don’t look at the camera….click for more ideas here –> Photography Tips for your Next Family Vacation
5- Be aware of whats around you! Relating back to getting the “perfect” shot, I’ve been known to get a little crazy when I really want an image of a certain angle of a building or of my children etc. I really have to remind myself to be aware of what I’m doing in the moment. Please always be mindful of the safety of yourself and others around you, and of the integrity of the area. Feel free to move around, squat down, lean in. But also be sure to respect the space and others that may be visiting it, especially if it’s a historical site.
6- Make sure YOU get in some of the pictures too! As moms we tend to focus on capturing everything going on around us but forget to get in front of the camera ourselves. I am constantly having to remind myself(and my husband) that I need to be in pictures with the kids. This is important.
These last three years have helped me grow so much as a travel photographer and mom and I hope these tips help you improve your ability to take memorable images on your vacations as well!
Hi, I’m Sandra. Mom of two, part time photographer and military spouse currently living in Aviano, Italy. Photographing families and children are my passion, as well as traveling and making memories with my own little family. Photography has given me the ability to preserve these memories for myself and my children, as well as meet and make new friends all over the world and I’m very thankful for that.
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