5 ways to improve your travel photography

The trick to stand-out travel photography is originality, explains Dan Rubin.

Dan Rubin

Dan Rubin

Recently, we took a look at how to improve your smartphone photography without the help of a fancy photo editor or free iPhone apps. Now, co-founder of The Photographic Journal Dan Rubin gives his five top tips for amazing travel photography.

Creating compelling images and stories across a series of images will help your travel photography stand out.

An easy way to make them special is by finding more interesting and exciting ways to capture the same thing everyone else sees.

01. Get to an elevated location

Travel photography: get to an elevated location

High places offer a fresh perspective of your surroundings

In NYC it might be a rooftop, fire escape, or the High Line; in London, the cafe in the Tate Modern, or the viewing platform at One New Change over St. Paul's Cathedral. Most places will have some natural or man-­made way to get above part of the surrounding landscape — this kind of shot gives depth and perspective and helps communicate the grandeur of a place.

02. Get off the beaten path

Travel photography: get off the beaten path

Don't follow the crowd, find new images in unexpected places

Search out the places tourists often ignore, from shop fronts to alleyways, or views of touristic places that people don't usually pay attention to. Every side street, alleyway, corner shop, and residential area has nuggets of beauty waiting to be discovered, and those images show things most people will overlook.

03. Use roads and vanishing points

Travel photography: use roads and vanising points

Perspective changes between cities and the countryside

I love taking shots from the middle of major streets when there are lots of people/traffic around — holding a smartphone over your head to get a high perspective on the hustle and bustle of local life is an easy way to get this sort of shot and make it look different than if shot at eye­-level. This kind of image in a busy city is very different from the same shot in a quiet small town or the countryside, and that's what makes it great as it helps convey the differences from place to place.

04. Show signs of life

Travel photography: show signs of life

Small details tell us about day-to-day life

Local people on their commute, street photography, laundry hanging out to dry — moments that show how the place feels, lives, and breathes will help bring your journey to life, by showing life in progress. Pay close attention to the smaller details, as those are often missed but can be incredibly rewarding to notice and capture.

05. Take a 'postcard' shot

Travel photography: take a postcard shot

Challenge yourelf to make a photographic masterpiece

We all want to capture something everyone sees when they visit a place — that iconic shot, the one on all the postcards — but we want to do it in a way that makes it ours, and better than a simple snapshot: Whether that's picking a specific time of day, finding a unique angle, incorporating someone you're traveling with, or my favourite: capturing a usually busy/crowded space and making it look empty, don't shy away from the shot 'everyone' gets — instead, find a way to put your own spin on it.

Words: Dan Rubin

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