Everyone takes pictures when they travel. Well, almost everyone. But when you return home and look back at your gallery, you may see pictures that are out of focus, look nothing like what you saw, are poorly composed or was simply a mistake. Taking good photos is not that easy but with a bit of practice, you can take your photography to the next level.

Image credit: Willian Justen de Vasconcellos | Unsplash

So what are the common mistakes that non-professionals make? What should and shouldn’t you do? Here are some common mistakes and pro tips on how to take better travel photos.

If you are interested to take your travel memories to another level, check here for the best video gear for beginners and pros alike. But if you are more of a traditionalist, check here the best film cameras to get you started in analogue photography

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1. Focus Pocus

Autofocus is a lifesaver and if done right, it can create decent quality photos. Sometimes, you can tap to focus on the wrong part of your image especially when you are trying to take picture of an object in the fore or background. However, to take extraordinary pictures, learn about your phone or camera features and learn how to use features such the spot autofocus mode to manually select your focus point. One good tip is to pick a specific point of interest to be your focus point such as a distinguishing feature or a person’s eyes.

Pro tip: get a tripod to get your photo composition right and help you adjusting the focus to take the perfect pic.

2. Central Imaging

Image Credit: Luís Eusébio on Unsplash

A common mistake many of us do is to place our object of focus in the smack centre of the image. While there is nothing inherently wrong with that, it can create an issue especially if you disregard the horizon line.

A quick explanation of a horizon line is for example in art, a line is drawn across the canvas to give the artist control over perspective, where to place objects and depth. The same rule applies to images and some images can feel uncomfortable because the horizon line is bisecting your object of focus in half and can leave people unsure of where to look at a photo or make it cluttered and uncomfortable to look at.

Pro tip: Avoid having the horizon line divided your photo in two. Add some excitement to your photos by finding something interesting to be the featured of your pic. It can be a tree, a building, a sunset…

3. Framing Frames

Image Credit: Cosmic Timetraveler on Unsplash


Framing is all important. Remember to look at the background before taking a picture to avoid any tragic pictures. What sort of tragedies? Lamppost “growing” out of your head. Or maybe a tree? Maybe someone is photobombing you or there is a dog humping a tree in the background. Moral of the story? Look behind your subject.

And frame. Ensure that there are no awkward cutoffs in your frame such as taking pictures that cut your subject out abruptly or taking unintended partial shots of people. There is a law called the rule of third. When you are taking a picture, imagine three vertical lines that split the image into thirds.

Image Credit: Wikipedia

This rule allows you to create more composed pictures that are pleasing to the eye and feels good. Photographers who live by this rule believe it creates more energy and interest in the picture rather than simply sticking your subject in the centre all the time.

Pro tip: Learn to look at your subject and try to frame your subject against something interesting and make decisions on what to include, what to cut and where to focus. If you just raise your phone and camera to take a quick snap, chances are it won’t be that great. Take a bit of time to consider framing and it will make all the difference in the world.

4. Posing

Image Credit: Junior Moran on Unsplash

Do you have a friend who has to pose each time you take a picture, maybe tilt their head, plaster on a smile and as a result, look unnatural in all their pictures? That’s perfectly ok as not all of us are models who know how to pose. While you can learn about how to pose online, it’s actually best to try to take pictures of people who are comfortable and at ease rather than trying their best to pose. Try engaging with them, talking to them and putting them at ease. Taking pictures of someone having fun while being themselves usually has a much better result than trying to force them into a stiff, unnatural pose.

Pro tip: Work the pose by taking several photos of the person in slightly different angles. This will allow you to figure out what angles work best.

5. Timing

The difference between a good photograph and a great one can be about the timing. Sometimes when handling a new camera or phone for the first time, you need to give your camera a second or two right after taking the picture before moving your device. Otherwise, you’d end up with blurry images because you’ve hit the button but not allowed the camera enough time to focus.

Another thing to take note of is the timing of the day. Sunrise and sunsets often have the best lighting just before or just after and avoid the most popular spots as these will be overcrowded and your photo will be lost in a sea of similar ones and won’t be unique at all. Take a little effort and suss out a different spot that provides a different view.

Pro tip: Early bird gets the worm. Get up early to photograph and make the most of the daylight. Early morning is usually less busy on travel attractions so you will have the chance of taking better photos withut the crowds.

6. Having a really good camera and never learning how to use it properly

Image Credit: JD Gipson on Unsplash

Just like buying a good knife and kitchenware doesn’t make you a good chef, buying a great camera does not automatically make you a good photographer. Simply getting a top of the line model and setting everything to auto is such a waste. Yeah, you can get some good results with it on auto but learning how to properly use it such as shutter speed, ISO and different lenses you can use will give you a lot of control over your pictures and allow you to compose better shots. It can seem daunting but there are good resources out there for you to utilize to learn the basics and once that is done and you learn about the more advanced techniques, it will completely change your photos.

Pro tip: Practice with your camera before travelling so you are comfortable with all the features once you get to your destination.

Where are you travelling to next year? 2019 will get you several long weekends that you can use to explore new places or just relax at any of the nearby islands. Choose your destinations and see all the ShopBack’s travel deals below.


Featured Image credit: Kaya | Unsplash

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