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10 Travel Photography Tips from World-class Experts

Four Professional Photographers Tell How to Take Better Pictures

By E’Louise Ondash, RN, contributor

Taking and sharing photographs today is as much a part of our lives as brushing our teeth, and we probably do the former more than the latter. According to Facebook, more than 350 million photos are uploaded to the site every day. Perhaps it’s time to focus on quality instead of quantity, with travel photography tips and expert guidance on how to take better pictures of the people and places you see.

Travel healthcare is one of the few fields offering jobs that let you travel. While many travelers snap away with abandon, leading to less-than-stellar results, you can learn to capture high-quality travel photos that you’ll be proud to upload and share.

Try these 10 travel photography tips from four professional photographers--with a combined 100-plus years of experience--to help you learn how to take better pictures and become the envy of your sharing circle.

1.  Fill the frame. When looking through the lens of a camera, our eyes will often edit what we see, “but the camera sees the wide scene,” according to Jim Tonery, a professional photographer from Sonoma, Calif. He explains that if you want to capture something within that scene, you may need to narrow your focus to avoid having an empty-looking picture.

2.  Apply the “Rule of Thirds.” Instead of putting the horizon in the middle of your landscape photos, like most beginning photographers, Tonery recommends this photography principle to improve the composition of your photos. “Consider putting the horizon one-third of the way from the bottom to emphasize a dramatic sky, or consider putting the horizon two-thirds up in the photo to emphasize the foreground.”

3.  Step back to take better portraits. Most people tend to step in close for portraits, but Tonery recommends using a telephoto lens and zooming in for a more flattering perspective.

Circus tent, photo by Lawrence Migdale

4.  Use the “sweet light” for the best outdoor photos.Lawrence Midgale, a stock photographer from San Francisco, has sold thousands of images during his 35-year career. If you’re looking for “memorable, drop-dead wonderful photographs,” he advises taking them during the time that photographers call “the sweet light,” which is the hour before dawn or sunset, instead of in the middle of the day.

5.  Follow a protocol to include people as photo subjects. Migdale recommends letting people know you’d like to take their photograph and that you are doing it with respect; don’t do it secretly. “Spend some time. Chat with them to make them comfortable with the camera, then ask their permission. If it’s not OK, move on.” In some places, the person might ask for money, and Migdale is usually happy to accommodate them, especially in developing countries.

Carrying Cambodia, photo by Conor Wall

6.  Show images to those being photographed.Conor Wall has been working as a freelance photographer in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, since 2007, and co-published a best-selling photography book, Carrying Cambodia, in 2010. He likes to show his subjects the final photo on his camera’s LCD screen. “More often than not,” he says, “this gesture actually opens the door to more great photos. It often creates a scene where the subject or others nearby actually request that you take more photos so they can see, too.”

7.  Get suggestions from a local. If you are planning to take travel photos in an unfamiliar area, Wall suggests hiring a local guide or driver. “They are the key to getting successful photographs. They know where to go for great possibilities.” Allied healthcare jobs that let you travel can open up a world of possibilities; locals in your assignment locations can direct you to off-the-beaten-path sites or areas with lots of activity and interesting subjects.

8.  Include a well-placed focal point. Australian photographer Darren Rowse, who writes the popular Digital Photography School blog, asserts that every travel photo needs a focal point, be it an usual rock formation, water feature or silhouette to catch the viewer’s eye. And points of interest in the foreground help create depth and offer a visual path into the image.

9.  Don’t be a fair-weather-only photographer. “Bad” weather can lead to great photography opportunities. For instance, Rowse points out that an overcast day that threatens rain creates mood and overtones that can enhance otherwise ordinary travel photos.

10.  Try a new perspective. Take your time and look for new angles when shooting your photographs, advises Rowse. This might mean kneeling, getting down on the ground or looking for a higher vantage point.


Ready to try these travel photography tips on a new assignment? Sign up for Club Staffing’s job alerts or apply today to get connected with a professional recruiter who can match you with the ideal career opportunity.

Circus tent photo by Lawrence Migdale, demonstrating how the proper use of light and geometrics makes for a dramatic photo.

Photo by professional photographer Conor Wall; one of 144 images in Carrying Cambodia, co-published in 2010 with photographer Hans Kemp.

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