These days, photos are everything. If we haven’t taken a picture of something and posted it somewhere, how can we say that thing actually occurred? But not everyone is a natural photographer. We tend to take snapshots of major sites without capturing the special moments that make our trips memorable. It’s time to step away from the “been there, done that” approach to photography. Here are some easy travel photography tips and tricks to help you use your camera more strategically while you travel.

Take your Travel Photography to the next level with our best Photography Tips and Tricks

My husband and I started teaching our kids photography basics last year. Photo by Jenn Mitchell, Fitness TravelingMom

When visiting popular tourist attractions, take a look at the photos that everyone else is taking. Are they making it look like the Eiffel Tower is balancing on their hand? Are they capturing snapshots of kids awkwardly smiling as they pose for the camera? Use these travel photography tips to capture the milestones of your travels in more creative ways.

Travel Photography Tips and Tricks

Here at TravelingMom, we don’t usually have the luxury of a photographer traveling with us. Luckily, a few of us have had this opportunity. A few TravelingMoms went on a photography tour of Quebec City with Rick Gerrity, a Panasonic Luminary.

Our Empty Nest TravelingMom, Cindy Richards took a photography workshop with Digital Photo Academy in Chicago. I had the pleasure of attending a “Portrait of New Orleans” getaway weekend with  Me Ra Koh and her husband Brian. Me Ra is a Sony Artisan, travel photographer, and family portrait expert. Here are some of the best travel photography tips and tricks we’ve learned from these experts.

{NOLA LOVE} Brian and I have just finished Portrait of New Orleans! What an AWE-mazing weekend with a group that came from all over the US! Our group became fast friends! And we were surrounded by the beauty of New Orleans. I LOVE NOLA! The colors, food, MUSIC, and locals are incredible! We will definitely be back! Big HUG to our group! Brian and I had the BEST time with all of you! So many photos to share! So many great memories! We’ll keep sharing them in our Confidence FB group! ➡️ Do you love travel and photography? Consider joining us on a future trip! Portrait of NOLA is part of our new long-weekend, photography getaways based in North America. Maybe we’ll see you on a future one! For more details, join our wonderful, private FB community! Search “Confidence with Me Ra Koh and Brian Tausend”. Xoxo m

A post shared by Me Ra Koh, The Photo Mom (@merakoh) on

1. Keep the Camera in Your Bag

When you first arrive at a destination, the instinct is to grab your camera and take pictures of everything immediately. If you can spare a day without pictures, take some time to capture the moments with your eyes and focus on your family and/or location without the camera. Take in the scenery and take mental notes about where/when you might like to take photos on the rest of your trip.

2. Take lots of photos

Digital “film” is cheap, and the instant viewer makes it easy to delete the duds and reclaim that precious space on your memory card. It can be both humorous and humbling to have to take more than 120 photos and only get a few you are really proud of. That’s OK, it will help you take better photos next time.

3. Avoid posed photos

Posed photos are typically awkward and don’t really capture the spirit of your getaway. With kids in particular, capture the joy of the moment and their sense of exploration. These pictures will ultimately portray the vacation in a more genuine way. The photos below are great examples.

Take your Travel Photography to the next level with our best Photography Tips and Tricks

Road Warrior TravelingMom, Nasreen Stump captured the joy of her daughter dancing in Jackson Square, New Orleans.

Take your Travel Photography to the next level with our best Photography Tips and Tricks

My son strolling through a garden in Belgium. So much better than a cheesy smile. Photo by Jenn Mitchell, Fitness TravelingMom

4. Use the rule of thirds

This photography standard is about making your photo more interesting. Rather than center your subject in the middle of the photo, move the camera slightly to the right or left, or up or down, to put the subject off-center. Think of the photo field as a tic-tac-toe board and move the focus of your photo to someplace other than the center square.

Take your Travel Photography to the next level with our best Photography Tips and Tricks

The bridge is the prominent feature, which crosses through the lower third of this image. Photo by Empty Nest TravelingMom, Cindy Richards.

Take your Travel Photography to the next level with our best Photography Tips and Tricks

See how the boy in the right third is much stronger composition then if he were dead center? Photo credit: Lesli Gibbs

Zoom with your feet

Move around. Try different angles and views. Don’t be satisfied with the view you happen to encounter as you walk up to the scene. There may be other, more compelling views if you just move around a bit. Below is an example. While the bright sky is pretty on the left, the goal was to capture the architecture of New Orleans. Moving closer to the building captured this goal much better.

Take your Travel Photography to the next level with our best Photography Tips and Tricks

Bringing the architecture of New Orleans into focus by moving closer. Photo by Fitness Traveling Mom, Jenn Mitchell

Try interesting angles

Rather than shoot a photo straight-on, turn the camera a bit or move so the line becomes an angle across the photo, drawing the viewer’s eye through the picture.

Take your Travel Photography to the next level with our best Photography Tips and Tricks

Zooming in and slightly tilting this photo helps capture the quirkiness of this unique location. Photo by Optimism TravelingMom, Cathy Bennett Kopf

7. Get close. No, even closer

It can be a challenge to get this right, but it’s totally worth practicing not only people, but landmarks as well. Moving in for the close-up is a game changer. This amazing picture brings out the personality of a giraffe at the Cincinnati Zoo.

Take your Travel Photography to the next level with our best Photography Tips and Tricks

Zooming in makes this photo extra special. Photo Credit: Jennifer Kaufman, Wayfinding TravelingMom

8. Capture the Personality of Your Location

Every place you visit has its own unique personality. While taking pictures of your family is important, consider treating your location like a person as well. What makes it special? Try to capture a place using all of your senses. Not only what it looks like, but how it smells, tastes, feels, etc. Taking pictures of these elements helps you remember some of the smaller details of your destination. Another great tip is to take pictures of locals who embody the spirit of the location.

Take your Travel Photography to the next level with our best Photography Tips and Tricks

A local artist in New Orleans. Photo by Fitness TravelingMom, Jenn Mitchell

Take your Travel Photography to the next level with our best Photography Tips and Tricks

A perfect example of capturing the taste of a location. Photo by Active TravelingMom, Kimberly Tate

Me Ra gives a great example. She says, “When traveling, you want to make sure you capture the sense of the setting so people know it wasn’t just a beach down the road, but a beach in Thailand with limestone cliffs in the background.”

9. Use Natural Light to Your Advantage

The harshest light is in the middle of the day so use this time to enjoy the trip and put away the camera. Aim for early in the morning and the hours leading up to sunset for the best light. If you must take pictures in the middle of the day, try to put your subject in the shade like the example below.

Take your Travel Photography to the next level with our best Photography Tips and Tricks

This boy in the shade avoids harsh mid-day sunlight on his face. Photo credit: Jill Robbins, Texas Traveling Mom

10. Rise before the sun

Aim for one sunrise day. While it can be painful to get up so early, the results are totally worth it. If you get the entire family involved, they will whine that day, but likely talk about it for years. “Remember that day mom got us up before sunrise?”

Take your Travel Photography to the next level with our best Photography Tips and Tricks

Gorgeous colors at sunrise at a vineyard in Temecula, CA. Photo by Optimism TravelingMom, Cathy Bennett Kopf

11. Sunset is also sensational

The warm light created by sunset makes everything a bit more magical. Sunsets are not only for beach scenes either. They are terrific in cities, parks and more.

A Lake Placid NY vacation has it all. Find year round things to do in Lake Placid, along with amazing food & accommodations for all tastes and budgets.

A Magical Sunset at Lake Placid, New York. Photo credit Sherry Wernicke, Luxe TravelingMom.

12. Practice at Night

Night photos are probably the most challenging. In this case, the light is not truly “natural,” but you can avoid harsh flashes by using surrounding light from street lamps and lighted windows. If you have visited a landmark during the day, check it out at night too.

Take your Travel Photography to the next level with our best Photography Tips and Tricks

The High Trestle Trail Bridge is a must see at night. Photo credit: Renee Virata / Quick Weekender TravelingMom

13. Take a Travel Photography Class

Especially if you are a beginner, taking a photography class either in person or online can be a great way to learn and practice travel photography tips. While I went on a travel photography getaway, you can find excellent classes in your local city and online. Digital Photo Academy offers hundreds of classes, both online and in person. YouTube has some solid tutorials as well.

Bonus – Our Empty Next Traveling Mom recommends using your phone to take these photos BEFORE you travel.

What are your best travel photography tips and tricks? Share with us in the comment section below.

Take your Travel Photography to the next level with our best Photography Tips and Tricks