Beginner’s Guide to Travel Photography

Rating: 4.67 based on 3 Ratings
  By Jonathan Ma
Beginner’s Guide to Travel Photography

Do you have a passion for the outdoors? Or maybe you love to explore different lands, cultures, and people? A great way to document your travels is through travel photography! Travel photography encompasses many different types of photos. The goal of travel photography is to highlight unique aspects of a new place. Today we’ll take a look at what equipment is required, how to compose photos when traveling, and what some of the challenges and rewards of this type of photography are.


Here are some of the equipment that a travel photographer might have in their equipment bag:

  • a camera that is small enough to travel with (it could be an SLR, a point-and-shoot, or a camera phone)
  • a wide-angle lens (for landscape pictures)
  • a telephoto lens (for portraits)
  • a normal lens (for street photography)
  • a drone (for overhead shots)
  • a monopod or tripod (for stability when taking pictures)


Keeping in the mind the goal of photography, let’s ask ourselves – how does this photo highlight the uniqueness of the area that it was taken in? Well, the flora and fauna of every location on earth are unique! By capturing the greenery overlooking the roads, the viewer senses that this area is very green and has had little human interference. Areas like the Pacific Northwest in the United States have the same feeling of naturalness.

When taking landscape photos in travel photography, the photographer should consider adding a human subject in the scene. Human objects help give the viewer a sense of scale. This is especially true when the landscape includes large mountains, valleys, hillsides, and rivers or oceans. Landscape photos are a great way to highlight the uniqueness of an area. Because travel photography travel photography includes landscape photography, it is great for a beginner photographer. The learning curve is low because the range of possibilities of what to capture is so high. Also, landscape photos provide lots of time for the photographer to do all of the things they need to. This includes: composing the image, checking the lighting, and experimenting with different settings like f-stop/aperture, ISO, and shutter speed.


A city’s architectural designs oftentimes highlight the history of the city over time. For example, in Vietnam, many old governments buildings have French architecture – highlighting the influence of the French government in Vietnam’s past. As a result, architectural photography can also be considered travel photography. Architecture is an expression of design through building and decorations. When traveling through new villages, towns, and cities – take pictures of any interesting architectural designs that you see! You’ll be surprised how much meaning such photos can add to your travel photography collection.

The beautiful architecture is further enhanced by the warm, soft shades of sunlight during sunset. Sometimes it takes quite a sacrifice to find a good location for the best composition, but that’s part of the fun! Engaging in travel photography means that you should be ready to ask around, research, and sometimes explore for yourself what the area is like. Look for spots that others may not think of – on bridges, rooftops, or through the windows of a high-rise apartment.


Travel photography wouldn’t exist without pictures of famous locations, landmarks, and buildings. But don’t forget to take photos of the local town, the local people, and the local flora and fauna. For example, look at the beach photo above. It highlights the beautiful blue sky, warm weather, palm trees swaying in the wind, and people relaxing on the beach. It’s always a good idea to include background context to help the viewer understand what they are looking at and understand the story behind the photo.

Here, we have a van going down a dirt road in the middle of nowhere. Although there’s not much action in the photo, it still captures the aura of the environment. The lonely van traveling on a dusty dirt road in the hills as the sun is setting. Travel photography may require you to awkwardly get out of the vehicle you are traveling in, in order to capture the moment.

City at Night

At night, metropolitan cities look totally different than during the daytime. As such, be prepared to take some photos at night if you are traveling to a city. This requires that you have a reliable tripod or monopod in order to capture the low-light. If you can find a place across the water or on a bridge where you can see the entire city, that would be ideal. Be sure to take multiple shots, as the slightest vibration or movement of the camera will create a lot of motion blur.

Happy shooting!

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Jonathan Ma

Jonathan Ma is a freelance writer and professional photographer. He grew up in the beautiful Pacific Northwest of the United States. The natural beauty that surrounds this area has helped him to learn to appreciate art and photography. Jonathan's favorite styles of photography are nature and sports photography. He enjoys learning and teaching others what he knows.

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