Travel Photography – 12 Tips for Europe

Travel photography | 12 Tips for Europe via Click it Up a Notch

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We recently returned from 2 weeks in Europe. It was wonderful and a photographer’s dream! Travel photography is not my thing but I did learn several things along the way. All the images below were taken with my Tamron 24-70mm.

1. Talk with the people you are traveling with.
If you plan on photographing most of the trip make to sure share that with those on the trip. I told my husband on the plane that I would be taking a fair share of images but I also said I did not want to experience Europe through my view finder. I know I wanted to capture our time but more importantly I wanted to live it. More on that later. He knew ahead of time that I would be getting my camera out and asking him to wait while I captured certain things. A bonus for me was that we left our kids with my parents. So I had the luxury of taking my time with certain things.

2. Show the movement.
If you are visiting a busy city, then you know that it is probably constantly moving. Don’t shy away from capturing this. This photo was taken while siting at a street side cafe in Paris. People were constantly walking by us and I wanted to remember this moment. I slowed down my shutter speed, set my camera on the table and took a few images.
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3. Think outside the box.
You obviously need a photo of the Eiffel tower if you are in Paris. But you don’t have to take the same photo as everyone. Capture just a portion of it, walk around, or try it at night. The key is to keep your eye out for different opportunities to capture what you have seen a million times in photos and figure out a way to make it yours.
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Or if you are in Rome and the Colosseum is being worked on, you can still capture a fun image.
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4. Pack light.
I wrote a whole post on this including what gear I brought with links and everything. Be sure to check it out – Travel photography – What to Pack.

5. Get in front of the camera.
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times. My husband does not know how to use my camera. That does not stop me from asking him to take my photo. Even if it is just a snap shot, get in front of the camera. You were there too, have proof!
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6. Walk around the tourist attraction.
If you go to Paris, of course you need a photo of you in front of the Eiffel tower. You don’t need to take the photo in the same place that everyone else is taking the photo. Walk around the tourist attraction and see if you can find a less crowded area. We found this awesome park that was right beside the Eiffel tower which was really empty. These two photos were taken about 10 minutes apart in two different areas.

Typical location:
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A better location:
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7. Capture the chaos.
I found it really fun to capture the tourist as well as the things we wanted to see. It is fun to remember what it really looked like. Yes, you can get up front and take a photo of the Mona Lisa but honestly, this one I like better.
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8. Light is still your best friend.
Even if you are in a museum, you can still take advantage of the natural light you have available. I walked around the Venus statue to get the light to fall on her like I wanted. Think about the light around you whether you are in indoors or outdoors.
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9. Slow down and capture real life.
One of the evenings in Paris, we decided to spend a few hours in the Luxembourg Gardens. It was great to slow down and enjoy Paris as the Parians do. While sitting on the bench and watching people walk by I noticed life happening around me. Picnics, reading, and gatherings with friends and family. Capture these moments to. This is truly part of the city your are visiting. Traveling isn’t only about capturing the sights but the heart of the people as well.
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10. Go out at night.
I’ll be honest, cities aren’t my thing. I’m slightly terrified from watching one too many Law & Orders. However, we decided to take a boat tour one evening and I’m so glad we did. I loved seeing the city at night and capturing the Eiffel Tower with the lights.

*After I shared this one of our kind readers informed me that images of the Eiffel Tower at night are under copyright. So, I won’t be sharing my night time images. But just imagine pure beauty ;) You can read more HERE.
Who knew? Good to know! Love our community.

11. Don’t forget your aperture.
If you want a lot of your image in focus, you need to make sure you have a large aperture number or stop down. Not only are you shooting in direct sun most of the time so increasing your aperture helps with your exposure but it also helps to have more of your image in focus.
Settings: f/16 | SS 1/160 | ISO 100
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12. Show up early or stay late.
We spent the day at the Vatican (this Catholic girl was in Heaven). When we first walked into St. Peter’s Basilica, it’s was crowded. We stayed for several hours since I wanted to attend mass. While waiting, we noticed they closed off a certain area towards the end of the day which made it perfect for photos. If there is some place that you really want to photograph make a plan to show up early or stay to the end.
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I have another tutorial I’ll post later on why I think you should hire a photographer abroad. Also, I may do a post with some of my favorite travel photography images. Stay tuned!

  • August 13, 2014 at 2:18 PM

    Oh I’m so glad you shared this! My mom and I leave for Ireland in about 4 weeks and I definitely want to capture some amazing shots while I’m there! THANK YOU!!

    • Robyn
      September 6, 2014 at 2:40 PM

      Kirsten – Have a great time! Ireland is beautiful – I don’t think I took one bad photo – even the “bad” ones turned out great!

  • Meghan
    August 13, 2014 at 2:31 PM

    Thanks Courtney for sharing this post. I loved it. Can’t wait to see the rest of your photos!

  • George T.
    August 13, 2014 at 2:35 PM

    This was a superb post! You gave his old rookie a lot great advice. Thank you. I must add #2 encouraged me to go back and review the 1000’s of pictures I have taken over the years that unintentionally captured movement. Maybe some are worth showing after all. :-)

  • August 13, 2014 at 2:43 PM

    Loved this post & seeing all your pics. I SWEAR the Mona Lisa was totally behind a wall & we couldn’t get a picture when we were there!

  • August 13, 2014 at 3:31 PM

    Beautiful photos! I visited Paris earlier this month and it stole my heart. I couldn’t help constantly snapping away, there’s so much beauty in just about everything. Thanks for these awesome tips, I’ll remember them for my future travels! x

  • Brad Zaruba
    August 13, 2014 at 4:41 PM

    Off to the British Isles in two weeks. Thanks for the tips.

  • August 13, 2014 at 8:35 PM

    Beautiful Courtney!!! Looks like you had a fabulous time! I loved all of your photos but also wanted to mention – what a cute dress in #5 – looks comfortable and stylish for walking around a city. And you’re adorable! ;)

  • Betty Troup
    August 13, 2014 at 11:33 PM

    This Catholic girl from Atlanta was in St. Peter’s Basilica several years ago early in the morning, before it was opened to tourists. Our Monsignor was scheduled to say Mass for our group in one of the chapels beneath the main floor. Walking into the Basilica when the sun was just beginning to rise and the Basilica was eerily quite was just amazing. We had the place to ourselves, and were able to walk around and look at everything without the crowds getting in the way. The Pieta was glorious!

  • August 14, 2014 at 12:12 AM

    This was a great tutorial! It’s fun seeing how others capture different places. I’d love to read the other two posts you mentioned!

  • Meghan
    August 14, 2014 at 12:32 AM

    btw- you are cute in your hat!

  • August 14, 2014 at 2:07 AM

    Aw, thank you :) We’re travelling to Paris next year, your tips are going to be very useful, I’m really bad at travel photography :)

  • August 14, 2014 at 6:28 AM

    These are such good points! I LOVE your Mona Lisa pic and what you said in Number 9. I always find it interesting how somebody decided what the sites are that need to be photographed and we forget to look at the little things around us that make up the atmosphere or the flavour of that place. Sometimes the details can also say more than the whole big thing. Barcelona has cast iron bats on the lamp posts, that I photographed for my kids. Oh and to explore! We found a deserted courtyard in Venice, where my kids wrote postcards, around an ancient fountain, still wearing their newly bought Venetian masks. They’re my favourite photos of Venice. Good post and that’s a beautiful sensitive travel shot of the man reading. ;)

  • August 14, 2014 at 10:15 AM

    It looks like this was a great trip! When I was in Europe 2 or 3 years ago it seemed like every iconic building was under renovation. There was nothing that major at the Coliseum, but the Pantheon had huge scaffolding in front of it. In Athens at the Parthenon I was able to get some nice photos from the back to avoid the work that was going on in the front.

    What city is the photo under point #11?

    • August 15, 2014 at 4:20 PM

      It is a small town in Sicily. I’ll see if I can find the name :)

      • August 15, 2014 at 4:35 PM

        It looks similar to Valetta, Malta which is actually not too far from Sicily, that’s why I asked.

  • September 6, 2014 at 3:27 PM

    I love the advice to go early and stay late – When I went to the Vatican it was crazy busy but I would have loved to stay and see the crowd dwindle. Will try that next time. Thanks!

  • September 8, 2014 at 10:37 AM

    No-one owns the copyright on a photo apart from the person who took it. The Eiffel Tower at night is under copyright?? By who?? Thousands visit the Eiffel Tower at night and photograph it, which you’re fully entitled to do! I’ve posted photos of it at night myself online, as have my photographer friends. Sounds like someone has been winding you up!

  • Julia
    October 6, 2014 at 6:15 AM

    What a great post :) looks like you had so much fun in Europe! We live in London, and travel around other European cities couple of times per year but I find it quite difficult to stay motivated if I know I’ve got few days of doing street photography, which is not my favourite thing to photograph ( I love portrait and landscape photography). So sometimes I struggle with it and lose interest of taking a picture of another building even if it’s a famous one, but that’s when I start thinking outside the box. Loved the pictures of a Paris street and the crowd in Louvre :) also, such a great idea to hire a photographer abroad, your pictures look stunning :)

    • October 6, 2014 at 2:34 PM

      How wonderful you get to travel so much! That is awesome :) I agree, travel photography is hard since I’m used to photographing my children as well.

    January 17, 2017 at 4:30 AM

    Thanks for your website, it is really great :)
    I really love to travel too because it an amazing experience! I also did a website:

  • Nomad Photo Expeditions
    March 16, 2017 at 6:57 AM

    Hollo, there!

    I’ve really enjoyed this post, very useful stuff. “Think outside the box”, I’d make a T-shirt with this quote for going to take photos ;) Thank u very much.

  • Sean Harrison
    October 12, 2017 at 5:37 AM

    I have a photo of my wife and the Eiffel from the same park for the same reason, much nicer aspect and no clutter at the base. We ate a picnic lunch enjoying the scenery without the touristy traffic.

    • Courtney Slazinik
      October 29, 2017 at 8:51 PM

      Love that!

  • Rental24h Toronto Routes
    May 25, 2018 at 5:27 AM

    A colorful place with its history. You definitely should visit it.

  • Rental24h Toronto Mex
    May 25, 2018 at 5:57 AM

    This post is so great! Did you calculate how much you ended up spending on petrol whilst driving? I would love to do something similar to this but I am a budget traveller so do not know if I could afford this.

  • Paulo
    April 5, 2021 at 10:19 AM


    Thanks for sharing these tips and the examples. I came across you blog while searching for guidance how to photograph my italy trip .

    To be honest I see the St Peter’s basilica and I feel overwhelmed already; how do you approach a church like that?, by the way im catholic as well so that place will be really intense for me.

    Thanks again for sharing.


    • Courtney Slazinik
      April 9, 2021 at 5:45 PM

      It can all feel overwhelming but if you remember that you can always buy a postcard of the “perfect” photo then you give yourself a lot of room to play around and capture it from your point of view.

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