Three Secrets to Stunning Travel Photosby ExperiencePlus! - Tuesday, February 5, 2013
By John Giebler, ExperiencePlus! Director of Tours
Are you proud of your travel photos? I mean, when you come back from a trip, do people beg to see them? Or do you have to beg people to look at them?
Did you know that 97% of all travel pictures cause drowsiness, nausea, fake smiles, and an overwhelming urge to dive through the nearest window?
OK, I made that up. But there is one secret professional photographers use to set their photos above the masses: know what your subject is.
Imagine, for a moment, you’re in front of the Roman Coliseum. You want to capture the moment in all its grandeur: the amazing structure, the crisp blue sky and, of course, your companion. If you try to capture everything, they’ll end up a tiny speck on the sidewalk.
Or, say you want to capture the stunning presentation of your pasta course in Florence. Ask yourself if you want a picture of everyone at the table, or the delicious pasta dish?
With a little thought before you pull the trigger, your snapshot can truly become a work of art. Try these three tips on your next vacation:
Make your subject the most important thing in the frame.
In that picture at the Coliseum, what’s the story you’re trying to tell? If it’s the massiveness of the structure, maybe it’s not so bad you made your companion the size of an ant. But if the story is about your companion in Rome, make them the star of the picture. Fill most of the frame with him/her, and show just enough of the Coliseum to let us know that’s what it is.
To illustrate, I took some pictures at lunch today:
A normal enough picture, but what’s the subject? The people? The table? The room? The food is just one small ingredient in this picture.
Try different angles
Depending on what angle you take it from, you include different things in your photo. The most common angle for food, for example, is from where you’re sitting. But try getting closer, lower, or higher to accentuate what impresses you about that presentation.
Most food photographs are taken seated at the table. That’s fine, but it’s like 99.99999% of all culinary photographs you see.
Separate your subject from its background
Make sure the background doesn’t pull attention away from your subject. De-emphasize or entirely remove anything that’s not part of the story. One way to do that is to blur everything behind your subject. Set your camera to aperture priority mode, and choose the lowest number you can. For example, if you shoot at f/22, everything will probably be in sharp focus. But if you choose f/4, your subject will be sharp and everything else in the frame a little blurry.
Now this angle is clearly about the food, but the background is distracting.
This final version blurs the background so all your focus – so to speak – is on the food.
Questions or comments? Feel free to ask. And please let us know if you found this helpful. If you did, we’ll share more travel photography tips in the future.