How to turn you holiday happy-snaps into proper travel images and become the Instagram hero you really want to be.
1. Know your audience
Who are you shooting for? Answer that question and you’re more than halfway there. Is it purely for Insta glory? Or is it to show your family when you get home. Or, are those images destined for an online library or blog (you can tease that through your Instagram feed – more on that in an upcoming piece), magazine or book? Or for your own records alone. Understand your audience and then set yourself a brief and shotlist around your consumer.
2. Know your kit
Whether you’re sporting the shiniest new mirrorless or DSLR camera, or are shooting on a smartphone, make sure you know exactly what you’ve got and how to use it – from the basic settings to battery life and how many images can you fit on your memory cards. A well-known shooter once famously quipped, ‘the best camera is the one you have with you,’ so don’t feel constricted by your equipment either.
3. Know your location
Research is the key to bringing back good travel images. Study the weather patterns, culture (such as how locals react to being photographed), festivals, places of interest and the like. If you’re shooting wildlife, know the habits of what you’re about to ‘shoot’. Look at postcards and see what others have photographed.
4. Pack smart
If on DSLR, choose your lenses wisely. Going to the bush? Wildlife? Birds? Take a long zoom lens. Heading to the mountains and want big vistas? Go for a wide angle. For basic travel and the comfort of not having to lug too many lenses around, invest in a zoom lens of 24-105mm. Make sure you can carry everything in a daypack and use a bag that doesn’t shout “cameras”. My go-to rig is a 16-32mm and a 70-200mm.
5. Bring your friends
Beanbags and tripods are your best friends (even if it’s one of those tiny kit ones) for getting your shots pin sharp and in focus.
6. Grab the golden hours
You’ve heard it before, and for good reason… If you want that shot, get up early or stay until the sun sinks low. Set aside time for shooting rather than just ‘taking pictures’ as you go along. One good shot of one subject a day is better than 10 bad ones.
Buy a polarising filter: it cuts out glare, saturates blues and greens (making the sky look a lot better) and gives portraits character.
8. Choose the right subject
Good travel subjects include landscapes, portraits, sunsets, night scenes and action.
9. Take the other angle
If the light is right and you’ve found a good subject, work it. Work it hard. Shoot the standard shot everyone takes, then try to find at least five different angles – macro, abstract, high, low, backlit and so forth.
10. Slow it down
Those fancy shots where it looks like the waterfall or river is moving or the line of red light as traffic runs along a road are easier to take than you think: put your camera on a tripod and experiment with slow shutter speeds and long exposures. Once you’ve got those down, graduate to star trails.
BONUS: Learn your software Everyone hates and over-processed image, but modern software is unbelievably powerful and can make a good image, ‘great’.
Written by: Jazz Kuschke