iphone photography
Digital Nomads,  world

Travel photography tips

More photographs are taken every two minutes today than what was clicked during the 1800s by entire mankind. With the developments in technology, now anyone with a Smartphone and a nice Instagram filter can call themselves a photographer. Despite this, we can all be guilty of taking to Facebook to post scores of repetitive scenery shots from our last exotic trip.

I am by no means calling myself a pro photographer, but in this post I’ve covered some of my best tips from taking amazing travel photographs to help capture your favourite memories and improve your photography skills.

1. Research travel destinations with Pinterest & Instagram

Pinterest and Instagram are enormous picture book libraries in the palm of your hand. Search for almost any location, and you’ll be overwhelmed by the number of travel images at your disposal. I particularly like Pinterest and the ease at which I can pin images to my own boards to reference back to whenever I need them. For me, It’s been a brilliant tool, not only for photography, but for mapping out locations I want to visit.

cuba steps

2. Consider the after interest

How many times have you taken an entire reel of landscape shots, completely in awe of the view that you have at the time, only to get home to think that it just didn’t translate as well in a photograph. Unfortunately, not every landscape that inspires us in reality can translate into a compelling photograph. Consider what may come across as flat and boring in a photograph – an empty cloudless sky, for example. Try to eliminate those things. Think about what elements are heightening your experience, a smell? A sound? An activity? A good photographer will try to find a way to translate this.

thailand sunset

 3. Don’t be afraid of manual filters

Anything past automatic filters on Instagram can seem daunting, but taking the time to play about with even just one can create that pop that your photo was possibly lacking. Adding more shadow and increasing saturation works particularly well with food shots, and in photos with lots of trees and grass. Lifting the brightness in photos can often detract from blemishes in the skin.


4. Use people to communicate scale

Often, the sheer size of your subject can be lost on your viewers if there is noting to scale it to. The human form is a great way to emphasise size, with the added effect of creating a little more interest. I’ve found that in my own Instagram feed, that photographs with people in them draw more attention than those without.

mexico catherdral

5. Use the volume key

Perhaps an obvious tips for most of you, but there are still people out there that aren’t aware/forget that most camera phones allow you to use the volume key to take your pictures. This trick is particularly useful for a steadier hand during landscape shots, or getting a less selfie-like selfie.

peru llama

6. Follow the ‘Person, Location, Item’ rule

Turn your 2D image into a 3D image by keeping in mind your location, the people, and the items in it. A photograph of a waterfall can come across flat by itself. Add a person, and you create scale, include a rock or a snorkel mask near the front of the shot and you create depth. The later subjects are the beginning of a story to your photograph, and inject a bit of personality to the mix.


7. The rule of thirds

The rule of thirds is a well known composition photography trick used to frame shots, the idea being that you imagine dividing your image into a grid of nine equal parts. From there, you position your focal elements along the lines, or at the point intersections. The off-centre composition is thought to be more natural looking and pleasing on the eye. The iPhone has even has its own built in grid function.


8. Re-think your angles

A lot of famous landmarks come with an obligatory photo, the famous Princess Diana seat at the Taj Mahal, pushing back against the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the wanderlust gaze over Machu Picchu. These photos are great, and (in most cases) a must, but once you’ve wrapped them up, why not try something a little different? Get down on the floor, get up high, use reflections, go landscape when the traditional shot is portrait. You get the idea.

mexico bookshop

9. Ask for permission

It’s not illegal to take a photo of someone in a public space without permission, but doing so is often bad manners. It may be tempting to dodge confrontation and try to catch a half decent shot, but addressing your subject will almost definitely result in a clearer, more truthful image.

peru couple

10. Don’t forget the small stuff

Small details such as the tiles of a floor, close ups of food, the rough edges of a ragged sea shell, can all make for a more intimate photograph. They’re a great way to break up your scenic shots, and often communicate the personality, smell, or colour of a location more clearly.

Morrocan petals

Feel like there’s anything I’ve missed out? Share your tips and tricks in the comments below.

Big thanks to SJS Photography for the feature image


Travel writer, marketing adviser and blogger based in Edinburgh, with a focus on budget and vegan travel. 39 countries to date, with extensive knowledge of travel within Asia, particularly within Thailand.


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