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Home / Tips and Tricks / 7 Common Travel Imagery Errors (and How to Avoid Them) – LifeSavvy

7 Common Travel Imagery Errors (and How to Avoid Them) – LifeSavvy



  Woman photographs a hilly landscape.
kudla / Shutterstock

Every budding photographer makes a mistake here and there. Here are seven common mistakes when taking photographs while traveling that you should avoid.

Traveling to a new location is one of the most exciting ways to advance yourself and your photography. You can take special photo trips or just take your camera on vacation. Travel, however, are expensive. So, if you're going to take pictures, you should think about it a bit. You do not want to spend a lot of money on a trip and you do not want pictures that you are proud of. Let's take a look at some of the common mistakes in travel photography and, more importantly, how you can avoid them.

Do not investigate before your trip

  Boys play in a tide pool.
Harry Guinness

The secret of natural, spontaneous travel photography is a lot of planning. Almost every great travel shot starts at home. It's not to be expected that for the first time you will stumble upon the most amazing things that are traveling in a new city.

Since time and money are often the biggest constraints on travel photography, it's worth researching for a few hours before you go. Think about what kind of shots you want to take, where you can get them, when they work best, and when you have the opportunity. If you can, create a shot list. This way you can start shooting right after your arrival.

And if you stumble upon an incredible situation while hiking, this is even better. But you will also have a few safe shots in the can.

Same photos shoot like all others

  Similar photos of the Eiffel Tower.
Take a look at all these really different photos of the Eiffel Tower!

If you're researching a trip, you'll see the kind of photos that most people from this place make. You will find out what the famous landmarks are and how they are shot.

And then you can do something else.

There's nothing wrong with shooting the same as everyone else, but it does not make much sense to take a photo that is available from 100 photographers on picture pages. Instead, see what has been done and try to do something else. You can work from a different angle, use a different composition, or record something completely different. Force yourself to be more creative.

Start too late (or stop too early)

  Sunrise over a harbor wall.
Harry Guinness

Great photography happens at unfriendly times. The best times for travel photography are the hours around sunrise and sunset. The night brings interesting changes in a place that many people do not catch because they are in bed or in a bar.

If you want to take better travel pictures, get up early and take pictures before sunrise. Re-plan your dinner plans so you can take pictures for one to two hours at sunset. Go back out after dinner and see what it's like at midnight. The great lighting at sunrise and sunset will dramatically improve your work.

Driving too fast

  Sunrise over a harbor with a boat returning home.
I waited for the boat to enter the frame. The shot without was a bit boring. Harry Guinness

Travel photography is an exercise in patience. Often it's about finding a good scene or background and then waiting for something to happen. Maybe an interesting local is going through the frame, or the light is changing, or something else unexpected will happen. The best travel photographers tend to stake out one point and work on it in many different ways.

Do not just take a single photo and think you're done with a particular scene. Be patient. Be slow. Take a picture and wait; See if you notice anything or how things will change in the next few minutes. The slower you move, the better your photography will be.

If you can, avoid taking pictures while hanging out with non-photographers. You will never slow down enough because you are worried about boring your friends or family. When you're on vacation, spend a whole evening having some time to take pictures instead of taking a few minutes here and there.

Bringing Too Much Gear

  A Canon camera with a long lens in a train sitting on a table.
My setup. Harry Guinness

You do not need a lot of equipment to get great travel shots. Your camera and a single multipurpose lens are sufficient. Opt for a neat Prime lens like a 24mm or 35mm lens or a useful zoom lens like an 18-55mm, 24-70mm or 16-35mm lens. Surely you may miss some photo opportunities because you do not have a long telephoto lens, but you will not miss any because you are about to change the lenses. Plus, it's much easier to carry and maintain a lightweight photo set than any kit you own.

Take only with a DSLR

Just because you have your DSLR or mirrorless camera with you, do not ignore your smartphone. The cameras in modern phones are great and can even record RAW images.

Smartphones offer some worthwhile benefits. They are small, light and you always have them with you. They are also more discreet, so you can often take pictures with your phone that you would not be able to do with your DSLR, such as in a cathedral. And they are super fast to use. If something interesting happens, you can turn off your phone in no time.

Taking photos in automatic mode

  An Italian in a shop in front of a shelf with jewelery and glass figures.
Harry Guinness [19659003] Like any other type of photography, you can not leave your camera in automatic mode and expect great travel photos. You have to control what happens. If you are still shooting in automatic mode, take a few hours to learn how to control your camera before your next trip.

Read our guide to become an expert on your camera. You could also read my article on the camera settings you should use for street and travel photography on How-To Geek.


I never travel anywhere without my camera. It's always a big part of my journey. Do not make the same mistakes I made in the beginning – all the above tips were learned hard.


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