Instaworthy Travel Pictures 101: A Guide For The Novice Photographer

Travel Tips
post image Sabrina Satli
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Remember the time when you were standing on the edge of a cliff overlooking the entire Indian Ocean, under the pink sky with the crescent moon glowing in the distance as the silhouettes of birds laced the sky? It was the most beautiful thing you have ever seen. You took out your smartphone with a simple desire to immortalise the memory, but you just couldn’t get the right shot. The sky changed, and you missed your chance.

Getting the perfect travel pictures involves a little luck, and a lot of work. Those shots you see on your Instagram Explore page didn’t come out of nowhere. With these tips, you’ll be well on your way to becoming an expert at photography.

1. Rule of thirds

Source: Erik Mclean

Perhaps the most well-known rule of photography, the basic idea behind this concept is to break down your image into 9 parts (2 horizontal lines across, 2 vertical lines down). Can’t visualise it? See this article’s header image. Alternatively, your camera or phone should have a ‘show grid’ setting that displays these lines on its display.

Next, place the main subject(s) - whether a person or a monument - in the intersections or along the lines of the grid. If you just can’t seem to get the positioning right, you always have the handy-dandy mobile photo editing apps to help you crop and reframe images easily. My personal favourite is VSCO on mobile.

2. Leave no gaps in between

Source: Erik Mclean

“If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.” - Robert Capa

The closer you get to your subject, the more details and beauty you will capture. After all, what are travel pictures without some shots of everyone laughing and having a good time with each other?

3. Lighting is key

The human eyes see a whole spectrum of colours that a camera simply cannot capture. As a camera will mostly reproduce shadows, look through your camera or phone display and move around till you find the best lighting for your subject. The best lighting situation is when the light indirectly shines on your subject, creating subtle shadows.

Source: Daniela Cuevas

4. Wh're art thee, travelling lamp?

The easiest way to flatter your subject is to put it in the best light - and what’s the best light source that can exist? The sun, obviously.

If you want to catch the glistening rays of sun as the waves break, take the photo when the sun is low enough to bounce off the waves.

Ever heard of the ‘Golden Hour’? It is the first and last hour of sunlight in a day that everyone often aims to shoot in as the sun’s optimally positioned to produce a soft and warm light with longer shadows. Find your destination’s ‘Golden Hour’ and you’re set! #nofiltersneeded, friends.

5. Take pictures people will love

The human brain loves patterns. We’re always looking for patterns, in the shapes of clouds, symmetry in buildings, or colours that complement each other. If you want the pictures to look like they were taken by experts, you should ensure all the elements in your picture are well-composed together.

For example, a plain black building on its own isn’t the most unique idea, but a black building surrounded by lots of colourful buildings could be conveying a sense of gloom or rebellion. What people want is subjective, but it’s always good to think about the shot and what should go into it.

Explore the location and play around with the subject’s position and you’ll be surprised by how a different perspective can create an outstanding picture.


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Sabrina Satli

Sabrina thrives when she gets her daily dose of Netflix, Crime Junkie's podcasts, and affection from Bibi, her furry dog who looks a little like her.