A Beginner’s Guide to Travel Photography

22 May 2024

Travelling to a new location never gets old. Whether you’re jetting off to a coast, country or city, every destination has a unique look that leaves a lasting impression on visitors. In this beginner’s guide to travel photography, we’ve shared our tips for translating that exact feel to your photos. We hope they not only help you to improve your images, but inspire you to keep shooting!

How to get into travel photography

Pack Lightweight Gear

1. A camera (obviously) - The best camera for travel photography is a mirrorless camera. Thanks to their sensor size and optical image stabilisation (OIS), high-end mirrorless cameras snap smooth, blur-free photos and adapt to all lighting conditions.

They rival the quality and usability of DSLRs, but they’re smaller and lighter – making them perfect for travel. A bigger camera isn’t necessarily a better camera!

A Beginner’s Guide to Travel PhotographyA Beginner’s Guide to Travel Photography

Ted’s mirrorless camera recommendations:

  • Fujifilm X-T50 This is the first mirrorless camera from Fujifilm to feature a dedicated film simulation dial, so you can capture high-quality images, with no edits needed.
  • Canon EOS R50.

2. A travel tripod - When you’re travelling, a tripod is a non-negotiable. It helps to level out your horizon, improve your composition and eliminate camera shake for clearer photos.

Tripods are also great for shooting landscapes and long exposures, which blur the moving elements of your photo while sharpening everything else. Travel photography tripods are sturdy enough to hold a mirrorless camera, and they fold down to a compact size so you can easily carry them around. 

A Beginner’s Guide to Travel PhotographyA Beginner’s Guide to Travel Photography

3. Spare memory cards - You don’t want to be running out of space when you’re out and about.

4. Spare batteries - Pack two spare batteries, and charge them up whenever you can. That way, you’ll have time on your side.

5. An all-in-one zoom lens - This is the best lens for travel photography. These lenses adjust to magnify the image in front of you, so you end up with a clearer image. They’re ideal for playing around with focal lengths and capturing subjects up close and further away. The best bit? With a travel photography lens, you won’t need to scramble to change lenses out in the field.

A Beginner’s Guide to Travel PhotographyA Beginner’s Guide to Travel Photography

Ted’s all-in-one zoom lens recommendations:

6. A camera cleaning kit - It doesn’t need to be fancy – just something to wipe away dirt and grime to keep your camera in tip-top condition for longer.

Ted’s camera cleaning kit recommendation:

7. A charger - Depending on your camera, you may be able to buy a travel charger that can be plugged into your car or charge multiple devices at once. 

A Beginner’s Guide to Travel PhotographyA Beginner’s Guide to Travel Photography

8. A camera bag - One common consideration of a photographer is how to travel with photography gear safely.  To protect your gear, look for a lightweight and durable bag that features customisable, padded dividers and pockets for accessories. It should be waterproof and comfortable to carry. We suggest a sling bag for easy access to your stuff.

If you’re travelling with a tripod, buy a bag that has a tripod holder – this will keep your hands free.

Ted’s camera bag recommendations:

9. An external hard drive - Don’t forget to back up your photos! We swear by the ‘just in case’ method. When you’re done shooting for the day, download your photos to your computer as well as an external hard drive. 

10. Get to know your camera - If you’re starting out or handling a brand-new camera, take the time to learn the ins and outs of your camera. Read the manual and watch video tutorials to become familiar with the buttons and settings, and consider taking a beginner’s photography course. Mirrorless cameras are packed with sophisticated settings, and if you can learn to tweak them, you’ll have more control over your photos. Soon, you’ll be able to move to manual mode – and leave your trip with a roll of creative, artistic photos!

A Beginner’s Guide to Travel PhotographyA Beginner’s Guide to Travel Photography

11. Do your research - Before you set off on your trip, learn about the places you’re planning to photograph. Scroll through travel blogs, Instagram, Pinterest and Flickr for some travel photography examples, and then hop onto Google Images to scout shooting locations and get an idea of the terrain you’ll be dealing with. Soak up all the inspiration you can, and think of ways you can inject your own style into much-loved scenes. While you’re at it, find out if you need to obtain approval or a license (such as when you’re filming on sacred land). Finally, check the weather and tides, so you can plan your shooting days accordingly.

Bonus: Travel Photography Tips

1. Wait for the right light

When you can, shoot in the ‘golden hours’ – the first hour after sunrise, and the last hour before sunset. In the early morning and evening, the light is soft and warm, and every destination is more photogenic. On the other hand, if you shoot in the middle of the day, the harsh lighting may leave you with bright highlights and dark shadows.

Travelling can be tiring and unpredictable – but if you can adjust your schedule around the golden hours or set your alarm a little earlier, you’ll be rewarded with stunning photos. If you’re unfamiliar with the area, download the Suncalc app to find out which direction the sun rises and sets. 

A Beginner’s Guide to Travel PhotographyA Beginner’s Guide to Travel Photography

2. Talk to the people around you

As humans, we’re fascinated with the way other people live their daily lives. That’s the power of travel photography: it shines a spotlight on different cultures and tells us stories we may not have otherwise heard. While landscapes are beautiful, the best way to improve your travel photography is to capture the people who live in those scenes. Be confident, friendly and respectful. As tempting as it is to snap candid shots, ask people for permission to take their portraits. You’ll find that most people are happy to have their photos taken and share their culture’s customs and traditions.

3. Think outside the box 

Thanks to the rise of Instagram, we all have a bucket list of far-flung places we desperately want to photograph. When you get to a new place, snap the postcard-worthy pictures, and then challenge yourself to be creative. Push the boundaries. Survey the scene, and try to make your photos stand out by shooting from a different angle or vantage point, or adding locals or other travellers to your frame. That’s when a tripod comes in handy! Often, patience is the secret behind stunning photos. If you can wait for the right light, or the right tide, or the right subject, chances are, you’ll end up with a photo only you have.

A Beginner’s Guide to Travel PhotographyA Beginner’s Guide to Travel Photography

4. Go off the beaten path

Travel photography gives us a peek into the lives of different people and places on this planet. But there’s a difference between being a tourist and a traveller. There’s a whole world out there to explore beyond tourist destinations, so don’t be afraid to ditch the ‘popular’ places and venture where few people have been before. This is one of our favourite travel photography ideas!

5. Invest in travel photography gear 

 You don’t need much – but you do need the photography essentials. Whether you’re looking for a new camera, travel photography lens, tripod, or accessories, pop into your local Ted’s Cameras store for expert advice and recommendations. 

Travel Photography Gear To Get You Started

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