Welcome back to the second part of this two-part travel photography series, 14 ways to take creative travel photos! This post is an extension of last weeks post, and I have 12 more tips to help you take not-boring travel photos with your iPhone (or any phone). I hope you will get a lot from this post and have lots of fun ideas of interesting photos to take on your next trip! Let’s get started
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How to take even more creative travel photos: 12 more ways
For part 1 in this series, click here.
1 Use a tripod
How can a tripod help me take more creative travel photos, I can hear you asking. Well, let me tell you. First of all, yes a tripod is often necessary if you are trying to take perfectly sharp or properly exposed photos, especially in low light. However it becomes completely necessary if you are taking a specific type of photo: long exposure photos.
Long exposure photos are that are traditionally done with a DSLR and a manual shutter. You leave the shutter open longer allowing more light to reach the sensor over a longer period of time resulting in a perfectly blurred or smooth photo. Since the shutter stays open for longer, any movement of the camera will result in the wrong kind of blur. It will just be a bad image. That’s why you definitely need a tripod to do this.
A tripod will also help your iPhone travel photography in general. I have a similar tripod to this Joby GorillaPod, (*) which is great because of the flexible legs and it is small. For the longest time, I didn’t think I needed a tripod. Then when I finally bought one, it made a huge difference in my photos. Here are some more iPhone camera accessories to up your travel photography game.
And yes, you can take long exposure photos with your iPhone! One way to do this is with the third-party app, Slow Shutter Cam. You can also do it with the Live photo feature if you have iOS 11. You can take photos like this:
2 Use burst mode
Burst mode is a feature that is part of the native iPhone camera app. To use burst mode, tap and hold the white shutter button. For as long as you have your finger on the button your iPhone will take a quick procession of photos one after the other. This is a really good way to take photos of moving subjects or when you want to capture the exact moment something happens. After taking your burst mode photos, you can select the photos in the Photos app, choose the photos you want to keep and delete the rest. Burst mode is good for different types of travel photography, like street photography, for example.
3 Shoot at different times of the day
Sometimes taking more creative travel photos means shooting at different times of the day. You might think taking photos in the middle of the day is ideal because it’s the brightest, and there’s the most light. But harsh sun can actually be hard to work with as a photographer. In fact, the hours after sunrise and before sunset can give you very beautiful photos. This is called the golden hour, and the light is softer and casts a warmer colour over everything. If you have the opportunity, try and take photos during the golden hour for prettier, warmer, and more creative travel photos.
4 Be patient
Being patient is relevant in many different situations. For example, in the point above, I talked about light. Sometimes you need to wait around in one place until the light is right or a shadow is gone. You also need patience when working with the weather. You might need to wait until a cloud comes into the shot or leaves a shot for the look you want. Or you need to wait for the rain to stop – though the rain can actually work in your favour to take unique photos, plus there’s the added benefits of less crowds you have to wait for.
Patience is also needed when taking travel photos in places where there are lots of people. When you go to a popular tourist attraction, you want to take cool photos, but sometimes there are too many people in your way. You could take a photo with the people in them, or you could be frustrated, give up, and move on without taking your photo. Or you could stick around for a while and patiently wait for the crowds to leave or at least move out of the way. Just make sure you have your shot arranged and your camera set up so when the moment comes you can take a photo quickly before more people get in the way.
Here’s an example of a photo I took on a recent trip to Tokyo. It was just a small shrine with a few red torii gates, but I really wanted a photo of it without people. It took about ten minutes, but finally it was clear and I took the shot I wanted. (This is a reason why I prefer to travel alone – because I can spend a long time waiting for a nice shot, and I don’t want to make people wait for me.)
5 Use the rain
The rain and bad weather in general can make for very nice travel photos. For example, dark moody clouds can result in creative travel photos and so can the effects of rain. Reflections, shiny surfaces, umbrellas, and water drops can be used in artful ways. For more on this topic, check out this post about rainy day photography.
6 Focus on details
Another way to take creative travel photos is get up super close to a subject and take a photo of the details instead of the whole thing. We all see whole thing, so it can be more interesting if you choose to focus on a small part of the subject. For example, you could take a photo of the entire Taj Mahal, or you could get up really close and take a photo of the detailed marble lattice work. This would be a side of the Taj Mahal that viewers might not have seen. Focusing on the details will give you more unique and interesting photos.
7 Include people
People can really make your travel photos come together. When we travel, people and the culture are often a huge part of what intrigues us about a place. So don’t be afraid to include people in your shots. You can include people in a candid way or by asking their permission. Just be careful when photographing people though. Be respectful of people’s privacy and dignity. And if anyone tell you to stop taking their photo, then stop.
On the chance that you do include people in your travel photos, the image can be very powerful.
8 Zoom in
I don’t mean that you should use the zoom on your iPhone, I mean you should physically get close to your subject. This doesn’t have to be the same as focusing on the details, as in the point above. It can be as simple as getting close enough to your subject that there are no distracting things around the edge of the frame. Filling the frame with your subject will give you more creative travel photos that make sure the subject is the main attraction.
9 Use props
Props can work well in adding something extra to your travel photos. I mentioned umbrellas, but there are lots of different things you can use as props. For example, bicycles, luggage, or guidebooks could make interesting travel photography props. When using props though, try not to make the photos too cliche, unless that’s the look you’re going for.
10 Find a theme
When taking travel photos you might come across something and realize you have a theme. Maybe you turned down an interesting street, and you see tons of cool things. Turn this into a mini photo essay. Creative travel photos can work together if there is a common theme running through them, like winter, food, or transportation.
11 Use HDR mode
HDR stands for high dynamic range, and is a really great way to bring out the details in high contrast settings. HDR photos are the ones that are extremely bright, vibrant, and colourful. It used to be a process to get HDR photos, but thankfully you can easily do it with just your iPhone. For a complete breakdown on HDR iPhone photography check out this post, where you’ll learn more about what it is, how to do it, when to use, and when not to use it. I really like HDR and believe it will help you get creative travel photos when you do it well.
12 Play with editing apps
Finally, after all you’ve done taking a bunch of cool and creative travel photos, it’s time to edit them! There are so many good editing tools available for your iPhone, there’s almost nothing you can’t do. My favourite app is Snapseed because it’s really powerful and free. For the rest of my recommended iPhone photo editing app guide, to download.
Editing your photos is a fantastic way to explore your creativity even more, since you can play with the exposure, contrast, colours, filters, masking, light leaks, and more.
Creative travel photos conclusion
I hope you enjoyed this second post in the two part series on taking creative travel photos. For part one, click here. There are so many fun and interesting ways you can take creative travel photos. There’s no reason you should have boring photos from your travels. Give some of these a try and see what kind of unique shots you can get.
And as with anything requiring creativity, don’t be discouraged if you can’t get any neat ideas right away. Creativity is a something that can be learned the more you do it. So keep taking photos, make mistakes, and try new things. I suggest you practice before you travel, so already have some tricks up your sleeve when you are actually on the road. And don’t forget to download the cheatsheet, 24 ways to take creative travel photos. Click here to download.
And let me know in the comment section, what is your favourite way to take creative travel photos?