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If there’s one thing travel blogging has taught me, it’s how to get “that” perfect shot. ⠀
You know the one… ⠀
The photo you’re so proud of, you’re dying to share it on social media or contemplating to even *gasp* print (yes – print!!)
I’ve started getting more questions from my lovely readers *waves*, and I wanted to share some of the things I do to get “that” shot! ⠀
So if you’re traveling soon and you want to uplevel your photography game, this blog post is for YOU!
Disclaimer: Ya girl is not a professional photographer…Just an over-enthused travel blogger, who occasionally gets questions about photography!
Now, let’s get on with it, my friends!
Here are some ways you can get “that” shot…
1. Add motion or movement to your shot
Photos show one snapshot in time, but the ones that stand out are the ones that capture a specific moment.
What does this mean?
When you’re taking your photo, dance, take a step, walk, or run!
This way, you’ll show a hint of movement, and you’ll capture a moment.
Photos where the subject is stiff or still can look… A little boring, sometimes!
Here are two examples:
Please, ignore my awkwardness!
2. Make sure things are level
This can be hard to get right. I mean, the screens on cameras are so tiny, and sometimes you have 10 billion other things going on at the same time.
But if you can, take the time to make sure your camera is level with the horizon.
Your photo will look more pleasing to the eye, and it means you don’t need to edit as much later too.
Here are two examples:
Which one do you prefer?
3. Take photos during golden hour
What is “golden hour,” you ask?
Well, my friends, golden hour is the hour following sunrise or the hour before sunset.
During this time of day, the light is softer and has that “glowy” tinge to it.
If you’ve seen a photo where the light looks magical and soft, chances are, it was shot during golden hour!
I know it can be hard waking up super early for sunrise (argh but sleep??) but trust me when I say, the sacrifice can be 100% worth it. I’ve taken some of my favorite photos during this time of day!
Here’s a photo I’ve taken during the golden hour:
Argh, magical right?!
Psst: taking photos during the sunniest time of day (aka mid-day) can result in harsh sunlight! If you don’t have a choice and need to take photos during this time… Read on my friends!
4. If shooting with harsh light, make sure the sun is hitting the face of the subject
This can be hard to achieve, but basically, you want to avoid the sun shining from behind the person or from the side.
You’ll get a more even spread of light if the light is hitting the subject front on.
Here’s a photo where the sun is hitting from the side:
Me: making shadows attractive
5. Simple editing can make a huge difference to your photos
Despite Instagram being a world of ridiculously edited photos (don’t even get me started on some of the photos that people have edited!)
But for the rest of normal folks who don’t want to edit our thighs skinnier or magic up a mountain where there wasn’t one, to begin with…
A small amount of editing can make a huge difference to your photos, without seeming fake or overdone!
One of my favorite edits?
Decreasing the shadow!
If you value your sleep (high-five my friend!) and you take most of your photos during normal daylight hours, chances are you’ll get some harsh shadows in your photos.
Most mobile phones (and even Instagram!) will allow you to reduce your shadow.
Here’s an example that took me 2-seconds:
Which photo do you prefer?
6. Make sure your photo is in focus
I used to make this mistake all.the.time
(please don’t judge me, my photographer friends!)
But have you ever taken a photo home, only to look at it closer or open it on your computer… Only to find it’s a bizarre, blurry mess?
*cries* But I woke up early to take photos??
The next time you’re taking photos, make sure your photo is in focus!
Here are some ways you can do that:
- On iPhones: tap the subject you want in “focus” right before you take the photo
- On normal digital cameras: your camera should do this automatically for you! In low light situations: try to hold your camera as steady as possible.
- On DSLRs: make sure your lens is in “autofocus” mode, or if you’re manually focusing, take the time to set this up properly (note: I don’t recommend manually focusing unless you know how to do this!)
Want to see one of my photo failures? When I first started using a DSLR, I didn’t realize there was an “auto” or a “manual” focus.
Thus, I created this blurry masterpiece:
No, you don’t need glasses. This is just me, mucking up my camera settings.
7. Use people to give scale in your photo
On the ol’ Insta, it might feel like everyone is using this technique.
But when done, it can make the difference between a *bleh* photo, and one that makes you look twice!
So when you’re taking photos outside, either of a mountain or a tall building…
Get a person into the frame!
People can add scale, and they make the viewer of the photo get a sense for how big a building or mountain really is.
Here’s an example:
Just a tiny person, in a big, wide world
8. If you’re heading to a busy area, go super early or late
This is a mistake I’ve always made.
And let’s be honest – depending on your priorities you might skip past this (no one can blame you!)
But if you want a magical photo without the crowds…
Or maybe you want to dance, prance and jump around in your photos without an audience…
Consider going super early or late, when the crowds are smaller.
An example of where I made this mistake (and wish I had visited at a different time) was at the Gardens by the Bay in Singapore…
*Cries* people everywhereeeee
9. Traveling alone? Get a tripod! Traveling with a friend? Still, get a tripod!
Regardless of whether you’re traveling solo or with friend(s), I 100% recommend bringing along a tripod.
I’ve gotten soooo many of my favorite travel photos with a tripod (even when traveling with my “Instagram husband”)
Psst: my Instagram husband is actually really bad at taking photos. My tripod is my true Instagram husband (Collin if you’re reading this, sorry!!)
Bringing a tripod with you on your travels mean that you can get the shots that YOU want without getting frustrated with someone who maybe doesn’t care about photos.
A tripod can also serve as a way to get photos as a couple or a group without handing over your camera to others (or going through that awkward moment where the person taking your photos doesn’t know how!)
My recommended tripod? The Amazon Basics Tripod – it’s light, cheap, and super durable. I’ve used mine for years, and have no plans to replace it!