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Dos and Don’ts of Travel Photography
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Dos and Don’ts of Travel Photography

When my husband & I were first married, we traveled extensively through Europe our first 3 years together. It was amazing. We saw different countries, ate different foods & experienced as much of local cultures as we could. I wouldn’t trade any of that time for anything & in fact, the only real regret I have is that photography wasn’t as important to me then as it is today. Recently, I got another chance to head back to London & Paris (sans kids!) & honestly, the only thing (besides food) I could think about was how I would capture my travels this time. How would it be different than the first time I’d been to these cities? How would I approach each place with new eyes & make sure to capture the experience but still… ya know, experience it. I actually didn’t have any game plan & just went with the flow of things but now that I’ve come back across the pond & had several nights of 10+ hours of sleep, I feel fully able to share what worked for me & provide you with my list of Dos and Don’ts for Travel Photography.

Dos and Don'ts of Travel Photography - A must read for anyone interested in taking pictures while traveling Europe

  • No.
    01
    Do Ask Permission AKA - Learn the Language

    I wouldn’t say I learned this the hard way but I found myself snapping away at a market stall in Portobello Road in London & was met with a grumpy stall owner. I think it’s really easy to get caught up in the beauty & excitement of being somewhere new & seeing new things. Just remember it’s best practice to actually ask someone before you take a picture of either them or anything they might be selling &/or consider their property. And if they say no, don’t worry. Just say thanks & move on.

    I also made sure that when we traveled through Paris I knew how to say – May I take a picture? – in French. That’s another thing people appreciate – when you try & speak their language. No matter how much I was likely butchering the phrase I was always met with a smile & nod.
    Do's and Don'ts of Travel Photography! Great tips for feeling confident photographing while you're traveling.

  • No.
    02
    Photograph the Details

    It’s easy to get caught up in the big stuff. That’s everywhere. You can’t miss it. One of my favorite things to capture when I was traveling were the little, quiet details. The surprises that were waiting down windy alleys or behind half open doors.

    Make sure you get those big, expansive shots, but also don’t forget about the details most people will never even see.

    Do's and Don'ts of Travel Photography! Great tips for feeling confident photographing while you're traveling.

  • No.
    03
    Do Capture the Touristy Stuff Too

    I have to admit, since this wasn’t my first trip to London & Paris, I was more excited to photograph the smaller things. The things that made each city unique outside of those well known landmarks. But I think it’s still a good idea to make sure you’re capturing that Eiffel Tower or Big Ben. I mean, I’d hate to say I went to London & didn’t get a snap of thier most well known landmark!

    Do's and Don'ts of Travel Photography! Great tips for feeling confident photographing while you're traveling.

  • No.
    04
    Do Use White Balance

    Probably my favorite thing about taking pictures in Europe was the exquisite, overcast, beautifully diffused light we had almost every single day. To say that cool, low light is just about my favorite thing would be an understatement. I was in heaven! But, that might not be your particular aesthetic or experience. Knowing how to use custom white balance like Kelvin will make sure you’re getting a great image in camera & not fiddling around with the post processing too much.

    Do's and Don'ts of Travel Photography! Great tips for feeling confident photographing while you're traveling.

  • No.
    05
    Do Stay Connected

    I knew I’d need chargers for my camera(s), laptop & phone plus adaptors &/or converters depending on the country/appliance. Take mental note of if you need an extra battery (like I have to have with my Fuji) or extra SD cards. If you plan on sharing images, consider having a way to upload & edit them. I just used Lightroom on my laptop & then exported to Dropbox. I was easily able to access the images from the Dropbox app on my phone. Staying connected was actually much easier than I thought. Yay for the digital age!

    Do's and Don'ts of Travel Photography! Great tips for feeling confident photographing while you're traveling.

  • No.
    06
    Don't

    Do's and Don'ts of Travel Photography! Great tips for feeling confident photographing while you're traveling.

    I don’t like to focus too much on the negative so I figured I’d just leave you with a few thoughts on what I think you shouldn’t do when photographing your travels.

    • Don’t overpack your gear. For this week long, two city trip I took my DLSR + one lens & my mirrorless Fuji + one lens. This was perfect for me.
    • Don’t monopolize your traveling companions time by taking too many pictures especially if you’re in a hurry to get somewhere. Not everyone has the same joy of photography. If you’re in a hurry to get to a commitment, don’t stop your group every 3 minutes to shoot yet another doorway. There’s plenty of doorways all over Europe. Trust me. It’s not worth irritating your friends.
    • Don’t be afraid to look like a tourist. My first time in Europe I was worried about always looking like a tourist so I’d be scared to pull my camera out. Don’t let that fear keep you from getting the shots you want. After all, you are a tourist. This might be a once in a lifetime opportunity. Embrace it!
    • Don’t get stuck behind your camera. I have this thing when I visit a new city where I close my eyes & breath in deep the city air. I want to make sure I don’t miss any bit of it. Don’t get trapped behind the viewfinder of your camera. There’s beauty that can’t be captured waiting to unfold in front of your eyes. You don’t want to miss it.
20 Comments
  • michelle
    March 31, 2016 at 4:03 PM

    I would love to know what you recommend for the one DSLR lens?

    • March 31, 2016 at 4:06 PM

      Hey Michelle! I used my 50mm 1.8. :) I’m def a prime girl tho. I think it just depends on the person.

      • Michelle
        March 31, 2016 at 4:22 PM

        Thank you!!! I have a 50 1.4. I love my primes as well but am taking my first trip to Mexico. I really want to shoot everything but I’m so afraid I just wont be able to get the reach I might need.

      • Ashley
        March 31, 2016 at 4:28 PM

        I was going to ask this same question. Did you feel limited by not bringing a second lens? I’m taking a three week trip to Europe at the end of the year and was planning on packing my 50mm 1.8 and my 24-70mm for some wider angle shots.

        • Trisha Hughes
          April 1, 2016 at 9:32 AM

          Hey Ashley! Personally, I didn’t feel limited but then again, I only shoot prime. Maybe if I had also been seeing wide expansive country side, I would have wished for a different lens but as it stood, my 50mm was really all I needed. We spent all our time in the cities tho.

      • Pam
        April 1, 2016 at 9:30 AM

        Thanks for the tips! I got to go to Italy last summer and took my 50 1.4 prime lens and my 24-70 lens and I have to say that I almost never took the 24-70 lens off my camera. For me, it was perfect for capturing tall buildings and landscapes and then turning around and grabbing a detail shot of a door. Love following your work!

        • Trisha Hughes
          April 1, 2016 at 9:35 AM

          Great perspective, Pam! Thanks for sharing that. I think you’re exactly right, it just depends on the person. I rarely shoot with a zoom lens so I wouldn’t have even considered it but it sounds like it would be the first choice for you! It’s just so hard to know & I understand feeling worried you might miss something or wishing you had taken a lens you left behind. I think maybe Courtney should weigh in because her first trip to Europe I believe she took a zoom & then on this trip she brought her prime. Might be nice to have her perspective too!

        • April 1, 2016 at 9:40 AM

          Yes, I took my 24-70mm during my last trip to Europe about a year and a half ago. I LOVE that lens. I decided to take my 35mm 1.4 this time because I wanted the challenge of shooting with a prime lens and I realized that most of my shots taken with my 24-70mm where pretty wide and I didn’t find myself zooming very often. That is just me and my style as I want to capture as much of the scene as possible. It’s great you know what lens works for you. Hope you had fun :)

  • Elizabeth Mayberry
    March 31, 2016 at 4:04 PM

    Love these tips!!! I so agree!

  • Rachael
    March 31, 2016 at 4:21 PM

    We just went to FL for the first time.. so ya know what that means, DISNEY WORLD. I brought my DLSR and used the 24-70mm and it was great. A bit heavy, but great. I powered through it. I had to keep reminding me of your last don’t. I am notorious for view finder confinement. haha

  • Victoria Greer
    March 31, 2016 at 4:26 PM

    Although I really want to take my DSLR everywhere I go, I worry about carrying around such an expensive camera and becoming a target for thieves. Would you recommend taking only a smaller mirrorless camera for travel overseas?

    • Trisha Hughes
      April 1, 2016 at 9:40 AM

      Hey Victoria! I hear your concerns as I think that’s something that people very commonly feel. I would say that personally, I never felt like a target. I don’t even use a neck strap – just a hand strap – but I held onto it very firmly or put it away in my backpack. I brought both my DSLR & my mirrorless but that was more just for variety. Personally, I wouldn’t want to take my mirrorless ONLY just simply based on battery life. I have to carry two batteries with my Fuji & those 2 batteries got me thru ONE day whereas my DSLR battery lasted the entire week.

  • Laurie Flickinger
    March 31, 2016 at 4:40 PM

    So much fun! Thanks for the post Tricia!

  • Lorraine
    March 31, 2016 at 10:02 PM

    Thank you for the info traveling to Italy in a few weeks.

  • Heather
    April 1, 2016 at 8:23 AM

    Not planning on traveling soon, but these are great tips to reference to when the time is right. Thanks!

  • Ijenna
    April 2, 2016 at 2:01 AM

    Wow. This was so helpful, thank you so much!

    I’ll be visiting a city I stayed in for two years and these tips would surely help!

    http://www.miralabelle.com

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  • Terry
    December 23, 2016 at 9:49 PM

    I really enjoyed the questions and comments. Taking just one lens had me sweating just thinking about it. I just need to go out more with just a prime. Thank to all of you..enjoyed it very much.

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