Get Better Travel Photos

     Are you taking some special trips this year? Are you going somewhere you would like to come away with some special photos? How can you improve your travel photos? Here's a few tips that I think can help.

1. Know Before You Go

     Before almost every trip I take where I'm planning on doing some shooting, I do a lot of research on the area. Typically I'll start with some Google searches. I might look for some books on Amazon as well (you remember books right?). If there's a book on the area that is specifically a guide for photographers, I'll definitely get that. The point is to start to know the area before you get there. You don't necessarily have to plan out the whole trip ahead of time, but it helps to know where the best spots might be, and what time of day might be the best time to be at those spots. I'll typically find some maps of the area and spend some time looking over them as well, although that may be because I'm a bit of a map junky. For me, the more I know about an area before I arrive, the better prepared I'll be and the better photos I'll come away with. And sometimes you'll be a lot safer that way as well.

2. Once You're There, Keep Researching

     There's only so much you can learn from all those maps, books, and websites. If I'm planning to spend more than a couple of days (and I usually am), once I'm on the ground on location I'll often spend the first day or two scouting. While I'm putting that knowledge I gained ahead of time to work, the conditions right there in front of you will often dictate how you plan out the details of your trip. Of course, if a great opportunity presents itself, don't pass it up. There's no reason to pass up a good shot just because you think you may have a great shot later. Especially in the digital age, shoot them both! Often those first shots can tell you a lot about what might be best as well. The point is though that you'll never really get to know a place well until you're there, so spend some time getting to know it when you arrive and you'll improve your chances of getting better shots. The featured photo for this post was taken on a trip to Great Sand Dunes National Park last May. Late in the afternoon of the second day we were there, I climbed to the top of the dunefield to shoot towards the mountains. I had determined the afternoon before that this would be an optimum time, if I had waited until closer to sunset the faces of the mountains would fall into shadow. The shadows of the late afternoon light on the dunes provided them shape as well.

3. Don't Stop At One Shot

     When you find a scene you like, or you're at one of those iconic spots where you have to get a shot, don't forget to work the scene. Often, the first shot you compose will not end up being your favorite. It is only the first step. But, if you stop there, you'll definitely miss out. As long as you have room, move around and find different angles. Once I reached the top of the dunefield, there were many places I took pictures from. I also tried to capture some of the unique shapes the wind creates with the sand. The overall look of the dunes will generally stay the same, but how the sand is shaped in particular areas will change over time. While many locations have an iconic shot or angle that everyone knows, don't stop there. By finding other ways to frame that iconic scene, you make yourself unique and set yourself apart from the crowd. Sometimes I have to remind myself to do that too.

    These three suggestions are just a place to start, but I consider them good guidelines to follow on all my photo trips. If youi're enjoying following my posts here on my blog, don't forget to follow me on Facebook & Instagram as well. You'll often see my latest photos there first! Interested in buying a print of this photo? Click on it at the top of the page and you'll be taken to my print store where you can place your order. Take advantage of our Valentine's special as well, give your special someone a gift that will last longer than a week or two. Thanks for following along!