Tag: travel photography

Photo Ideas for Field or Camping Trips for Artists on the Go

We still have over a month of summer left, which means there’s still time to go on exciting adventures, soak up the summer sun with your friends, and make the most of your free time. One of the best summer activities is going on a camping trip with your loved ones. This opportunity is ideal for bonding, spending quality time away from technology, and improving your photography skills.

Camping trips offer breathtaking surroundings and photogenic subjects. They’re great for photographers who want to experiment with a lot of different genres without worrying about the results. However, due to the sheer amount of things you can photograph, these trips can be a little overwhelming.

To save you from unnecessary stress, here is a list of photo ideas that will help you make the most of your travels.

camping trip wide shot

camping trip wide shot II

Wide Shots Featuring Your Surroundings – Landscape Photography

Give your future self a clear idea of where you were during your trip. Photograph your surroundings using a wide-angle lens. If you don’t have one, take several photos of one location and stitch them in an editing program; this will create a very eye-catching panorama.

Wide shots are perfect for capturing the general atmosphere of a location. They also look good in portfolios, on social media, and in art galleries. You might even end up selling your landscape photos to some very eager art appreciators. 🙂

camping trip details

Details – Macro Photography/Diptychs

As appealing as details are, they’re easy to forget. This is why it’s very important that you photograph as many of them as you can. During your trip, this can be the mug you’re using, the food you’re eating, or the leaves on the tree that’s right above your sleeping bag. Every moment counts.

You might not use detailed snapshots in your portfolio, but you’ll definitely use them to go back in time to a very refreshing and fulfilling adventure. If you want to be extra creative, use these details to create two-photo collages called diptychs (pictured above).

camping trip candid portrait

camping trip campfire friends

Posed and Candid Photos – Portrait Photography

A camping trip is nothing without friends, so make sure you include them in your best shots! Make sure you take a combination of posed and candid portraits. Posed photos are great for social media and even your own portfolio. Candid photos, on the other hand, can be proudly added to family albums and cherished for years to come.

camping trip drone photography

camping trip drone photography II

Bird’s Eye View – Drone Photography

Even though drone photos are very, very popular, don’t let that stop you from appreciating your own surroundings from above. By photographing your experience from a unique angle, you’ll add to your rich collection of landscapes, details, and portraits. These visual memories are bound to make your trip unforgettable. (And if you really want to take it to the next level, film your journey!)

camping trip

camping trip

Different Times of Day

To really improve your photography skills, make sure you take photos at different times of the day. Daylight will help you take bright photos of your friends and surroundings; the golden hour will provide you with the perfect light for all kinds of photos, and the evening will give you the chance to sharpen your nighttime photography skills.

camping trip

I hope the ideas above help you make the most of your photography skills and your camping trip. I’m certain that by the time it’s over, you’ll be significantly more experienced as an artist.

Regardless of how much you love the world of photography, though, make sure you live in the moment, too. Trips are meant to be relaxing, fun, and eye-opening. As soon as you start to feel stressed, put everything down and just be there for yourself and your friends.

Now let’s go out and make some amazing memories. 🙂

A Photographic Journey around San Felipe, Mexico

I have had the opportunity the past four months to live and photograph around San Felipe, Mexico. San Felipe is located in the Baja California and located about 2-3 hours south of the border along the side of The Sea of Cortes. San Felipe is filled with color, culture, great food, and beautiful desert land. Pack all of the correct gear for your travels and take an adventure to gather some great photographs. San Felipe SignOn your way to downtown San Felipe, you will first spot The Arches, a very popular monument of San Felipe. They call the arches “The Gateway To The Sea” The arches offers many angles. However, the only problem photographing the arches are all of the distractions around such as signs and wires, which you can Photoshop out later. Around and past the arches you will also find a hillside where you can explore to gather some more cultural photographs of the areas. This area is where you will find all of the best authentic food with local taquerias and is always a great photo op in itself by practicing your food photography. Down at the end of San Felipe is The Malecon, which sits next to The Sea of Cortes. The Malecon is lined with restaurants, shopping, and with a great view of the sea. This is where all of the events happen in towns such as food festivals, music festivals, and parades. This is a great place to take some iPhone street photography. San Felipe ArchesSan Felipe Culture

San Felipe Food Truck

San Felipe TacosSan Felipe TortaSan Felipe DowntownSan Felipe MaleconSan Felipe MaleconSan Felipe Shrimp FestivalSan Felipe is also a great place to gather some night photography. One of the best spots for night photography is down at The Shipyard, which you will find at the end of The Malecon. The Shipyard used to be a marina but was flooded, and they could not move the ships, so they are left there are part of a San Felipe gem. Up on a hill, you will find a building, The Boom Boom Room, a place that has also been abandoned and a very interesting location to photograph during the day or evening. Up on a mountain, you will find a little yellow chapel that looks over the town of San Felipe and right next to it is the lighthouse, which you can shoot from ground level or up at the top where the prayer building is. This is a great place to work with your angles. If you are in town during the full moon make sure to catch the moon rise over The Sea of Cortes: I was there for supermoon, and it was an incredible experience and a really good opportunity to try my moon photography skills and also work with some post editing. San Felipe Tampico ShipSan Felipe BoomBoom RoomSan Felipe MexicoSan Felipe ChapelSupermoon in MexicoThere are many smaller day trips you can take from San Felipe for some great opportunities including more water and desert land. On a note of transportation, you will need some form of 4-wheel drive out in the desert. It is a famous landmark in the area is The Valley of The Giants and a photo opportunity you will not want to miss. The valley holds cardon cacti that stand nearly 50 feet high. You can also drive further south to Percebu where you will find a little more surf in the water and also a great location to find treasures along the beach. Along the way, you will find more abounded buildings and interesting homes and land to photograph. The desert land has a lot of beauty to offer, and San Felipe is surrounded by beautiful desert land. You can take a drive out west closer to the mountains for some more variety in your desert landscape. The desert also offers some interesting finds such as bones, rocks, and maybe even a carcass or two. If you are going out in the middle of the day, you will have problems with harsh lighting in your landscapes, but you can always enhance your lighting in post production with landscape Photoshop actions or Lightroom Presets and Brushes. Valley of the GiantsValley of the GiantsPercebuSan Feipe DesertSan Felipe Mexico DesertSan Felipe Mexico DesertI hope you have the opportunity to visit San Felipe in your future travels or even Baja California to discover color, culture, and beautiful desert land by the sea or ocean side. As they say in the Baja “No Bad Days!”

Death Valley: Photographing the Desert in Winter

Ah, fall is the season when I start thinking about the desert. Temperatures are beginning to cool and I can go to some of my favorite places without worrying I’ll get baked to a crisp in the typical 110-degree summer heat. Not only that, but the weather shifts to sometimes stormier conditions which are far more photogenic than the usual searing, clear skies.

So my opening advice is consider planning a winter trip to a desert near you.

My next advice is to put Death Valley National Park on the top of your list of desert locations. Don’t let the name fool you. I know it sounds like some notorious hellhole that only brave or demented people visit. Instead, the 3.4 million acre park has an overwhelming number of photo ops to choose from, most of them landscapes. Unfortunately, when you drive into the park for the first time, the place is so huge, it’s hard to pinpoint where those photo ops are.

That’s why you’ve got me! In this post, I’ll take you to a few of the best, image-rich locations that are easily accessible by paved road. In the next post, we’ll get away to the backcountry where things get really spectacular.

Dried mud at the edge of the sand dunes.
Dried mud at the edge of the sand dunes. Bronica SQ-A/80mm lens, Tri-X film (yeah, that’s right, film).

Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes

Located just east of Stovepipe Wells Village along Highway 190, the sand dunes are easy to access from either a parking lot or if you like, you can park on the road’s wide dirt shoulder and simply hike a short distance into the thick of them. (Do yourself a favor and as you leave your car, look behind you for landmarks so you can steer your way back.) The dunes shift in form throughout the year but there’s always one over-achieving pile that reaches higher than the rest and if you’re feeling energetic, you can head for that. Or, just wander around. Closer to the road, there are patches of dried, cracked earth that make for great foregrounds or abstracts. As for the dunes, the curving lines where one sandy ridge curls around into another are great for various compositions. In all directions, you’re surrounded by mountains which create great backgrounds, or there are multiple opportunities for abstracts by framing nothing but curves, shadows, and sand. I recommend taking several lenses. Use wide angles to accentuate the sensuous lines and telephotos to compress the landscapes into abstracts or to bring the background mountains into the shot. A tripod is a good idea, too, because you’ll probably want to use small apertures for more depth of field and that brings with it, of course, longer exposures which require more than a steady hand.

Early morning light brings out the curving lines in the dunes.
Early morning light brings out the curving lines in the dunes. Canon 5DMII, 70-300mm set at 300mm, f/8, 1/180, ISO 400.

Shot with a telephoto lens to compress the scene into something slightly abstract. Canon 5DMII, 70-300mm set at 250mm, f/8, 1/350, ISO 400.

Shot with a telephoto lens to compress the scene into something slightly abstract.

The best time to arrive is about 30-45 minutes before dawn but there’s enough light wander out to a suitable location and wait for the sunrise to magically transform the dunes. Granted, for all the effort, this magic will only last a few minutes before the sun stops delineating the dunes’ shapes and it all becomes rather bland. Sunrise is another good time, but be careful because once it gets dark, it’s really dark and you might have a hard time finding your way back. Bring a flashlight or, better, a headlamp. Lastly, in the winter, the dunes are pretty popular and can be trampled with footprints, marring otherwise good photos, so you may have to hike about a bit to find an unspoiled shot.

Manley Beacon at sunrise_mini
Manley Beacon at sunrise with the Panamint Mountains in the background. Bronica SQ-A, 80mm lens, Ektachrome film.

Zabriskie Point

This is just outside of Furnace Creek, again on Highway 190. There are a large parking lot and a short, somewhat steep paved path to a high point where you look down on a pretty tortured landscape of twisting canyons that lead out to Death Valley’s main playa and then in the distance the Panamint Mountains. The main attraction for most photographers’ memory cards is Manley Beacon, a pointy outcrop the shape of a shark’s tooth. In the right light—sunrise is best—Manley Beacon gets hit by a brief blast of warm sunlight while the rest of the foreground is still in shadow. Get here early, before sunrise, to get a spot on the overlook among a usual crowd of other photographers. If there are clouds, sunset can also provide great images. Again, bring a tripod and be prepared to bracket for the extremes in light.

Death Valley's playa as seen from Dantes View. Eleven frames stitched into a panorama.
Death Valley’s playa as seen from Dantes View. Eleven frames stitched into a panorama. Note the snow in the Panamint Mountains, which you’ll see in the winter. The high point below and a little to the right of the moon is Telescope Peak. Canon 5D, 28-70mm set to 36mm, f/8, 1/30, ISO 400.

Dantes View

For another spectacular view without so many tripods, Dantes View at an elevation of 5475′, gets you a plunging, straight-down shot of Death Valley’s below-sea-level playa running through the middle of the park with the Panamint Mountains shining in the background. The time it right for a sunrise with the moon setting at the same time near the Panamints’ 12,000′ Telescope Peak. The drive there will take about 45 minutes from Furnace Creek and involves a 14-mile climb up a winding road off Highway 190. So if you spend the night at one of the hotel rooms in Furnace Creek, you’ll need to get up horribly early to reach the viewpoint before sunrise. Well worth it. One note of caution. It gets really windy on the top of Dantes View and in the winter, adds to that bone-rattling cold. Dress for the Arctic and you’ll be fine. There’s also a trail that leads off from the right side of the parking lot to more great views of both Death Valley and to the east into Nevada. You’ll need a tripod just to hold your camera steady in the howling wind.

Scotty's Castle: There are many archways that make great framing elements.
Scotty’s Castle: There are many archways that make great framing elements. Canon 5D, 16-35mm set at 22mm, f/22, 1/30, ISO 400.

Scotty’s Castle

On the opposite side of the park, way north of Dantes View (about 80 miles away, which says something about how big Death Valley is), you’ll find the one manmade attraction inside the park that should be photographed. I won’t get into the entire history of this colossal home built in the middle of nowhere by a wealthy man who wasn’t, by the way, named Scotty, but the architecture alone is worth an hour of your time. There’s a tour of the grounds and buildings, but photography inside the house is prohibited. However, if you get there early in the morning, you can wander about the grounds unfettered and have wonderful shadows and light, and no people.

Sadly, flood damage to the surrounding roads has meant Scotty’s Castle is currently closed and perhaps won’t be reopened until 2019, but keep it in the back of your mind because it is well worth a visit.

Ubehebe Crater at sunrise, shot not far from the parking lot. How easy was that?
Ubehebe Crater at sunrise shot not far from the parking lot. How easy was that? Canon 5D, 16-35mm set 16mm, f/16, 1/40, ISO 400.

Ubehebe Crater

That’s pronounced U-be-hee-bee. Just so you know. This is around the corner from Scotty’s Castle and is available for photography. Best in the morning or evening. The volcanic crater, some 600 feet deep, was formed a mere 300 years ago when rising magma hit ground water and the resulting trapped steam exploded. There is a soft, steep trail to the bottom of the crater but photographically, not really worth the difficult climb back out. Besides setting up near the parking lot for sunrise shots, try wandering around the crater rim for other angles, especially in the late afternoon. Consider doing panoramas here to get it all in.

The water-logged playa near Badwater shot in the winter. A rare sight.
The water-logged playa near Badwater shot in the winter. A rare sight. Bronica SQ-A, 80mm, Ektachrome film.

Badwater Basin

There is something entirely weird about driving along Highway 178, south of Furnace Creek, and seeing a sign saying “Sea Level,” while you continue descending. That descent ends at Badwater, the lowest elevation in North America at minus 282 feet. The best light here is either sunrise or sunset. You can take a path from the parking lot out into the playa, which, during the winter, is often a shallow lake, making for nice photos. If you luck out, you’ll get the Panamint Mountains reflecting in the water. A rare sight.

Travel Guide Stuff

For more information, go to the Death Valley National Park website, Keep in mind, that winter is a popular time and you’ll have to book the few in-park hotel rooms several months in advance. You can also camp at several, somewhat dreary campgrounds but they don’t take reservations. If you don’t mind a half-hour drive out of the park, try getting a hotel in Beatty, Nevada. It’s at least cheaper but farther from the good stuff.

[The opening image was shot from Zabriskie Point looking down into the canyons during a winter sunset.]

Mastering Travel Photography: Avoiding Cliche Travel Shots

You’ve finally saved up for that amazing trip! You can’t wait to get some great shots to help build your portfolio. But, you don’t want to travel only to take the same, overshot image of that iconic place. And how demotivating is it to walk up and see hundreds of other people doing the same thing? But isn’t it funny that you always see the hundreds of other photographers standing in the same spot? Having other photographers around doesn’t mean you can’t get a unique image. Just, avoid standing where they are. Follow the below to help in avoiding cliche travel shots and get unique images of iconic places.


Do Your Research

Before traveling, do your research to begin planning out your ideas and shot list. This includes actually knowing what the cliche images are! Otherwise, how would you know what to avoid? You should also plan out some shot ideas to avoid the cliches. Of course, this is not meant to be a hard schedule, it should be a guideline, something to adjust if needed. Some travel photographers prefer to wait until they are in a new place to figure out the story. This way, it is a more natural process. Even so, doing research beforehand will help give you an idea what to expect. You may learn an interesting fact that could change the way you shoot in a location. Before going to Porto, I learned JK Rowling wrote the first Harry Potter book while living in the city.  This changed the way I walked around the city. I found small details of buildings I could reference back to the Harry Potter books. It was so much fun! If I hadn’t done the research, I may not have known this fact until after I left. As a photographer and Harry Potter fan, this would have been frustrating and heart-breaking!


Golden Hour

The time of day you shoot can be the difference between a hobbyist and full-time pro. How often do you see people shooting iconic landmarks smack in the middle of the day? D’oh! If you were there at the right time of day, you would have a higher quality image. Shoot the hour after sunrise and the hour before sunset. During the day when the sun is brightest, shoot indoors or be aware where the sun is. Using a reflector can help reflect light where you want it to go.


Walk Around

First, assess the scene. What do you see? What do you want to capture? Take a nice walk around the scene. Search for interesting angles or actions happening. What does this subject look like from the side? Look up, look for ways to shoot down. Walk across the street and see what it looks like far away versus up close. Try shooting a few frames and see how they come out. How can you improve them? Does the image tell a story? It can be a good idea to walk away from the subject for a while as explore something new. Come back to it another time (if timing permits) with fresh eyes. This can change your perspective.


Shoot a Portrait

Try finding someone interesting who would be willing to let you shoot a portrait of them. If you are near a famous landmark, this will be easy. Everyone enjoys a good photo of themselves, even more in front of a famous location. Play with aperture, blur out the landmark. It’s interesting the Eiffel Tower blurred in the background. Most would make it the main focus. Maybe it is an interaction between people or a candid unposed image. That will give you a unique spin on that location. Moments are singular and will never again occur in exactly the same way.


Shoot Daily Life

Expanding on the above, try to create a sort of environmental street portrait. Look for a scene which speaks to the emotion of the place. It could be an interaction between a local couple, or a street vendor and tourists. Add the element of the landmark to your background to give it a sense of place. You will tell a story of daily life in this location, in a more interesting way than just each element on its own.

Avoiding cliche shots in travel photography is not difficult to do. Even though there are other photographers around, you can still walk away with a unique image. All you need is a plan and to do your research. Learn what to avoid and brainstorm how to avoid it. Take a nice walk around, get to know the locals, ask questions. A new world will open up before you if you just start a conversation and take an interest in the people and culture. This care and emotion reflect in the images. You’ll walk away with a great story and a better image.

Travel Portrait Photography Tips

A great image tells a story. A great portrait can be one of the best story telling images you can take. We’ve all seen Steve McCurry’s “Afghan Girl“. What makes this image stand above the rest? I’ve broken down the key elements to creating a strong travel portrait, outlined below.


Do Some Research

Look at other travel photographer’s works and how they shoot portraits. This will give you an idea of how to compose the image, options for lenses and other gear, and how to look for the emotion. There is usually a fun story to go along about how the picture came to be. Make an inspiration board, whether at home or on Pinterest. Pull images you feel encompasses emotion, technical skill, and a story. Isolate the key elements to each and incorporate them when you shoot. This is especially helpful when traveling to a new place. You can simultaneously research portraiture and examples from this place.

Look for the Light

Time of day is so important while shooting outdoors and this also goes for travel portrait photography. We all know about Golden Hour, the hour after sunrise and the hour before sunset, as the best time of day to shoot. Follow this schedule when you are traveling as much as you can. Go for an early morning walk before breakfast. This is a great time to see daily life, locals getting ready to start their day. During the day when the sun is right overhead, focus more on shooting indoors or shaded areas. Still, have your camera on you at all times, just be aware of where the best light will be. In the evening before dinner, go out for another walk around town. This is my favorite time of day to shoot. The light is beautiful and there is so much energy. Shooting at night is possible with the right lens and lighting, be it natural or artificial. Using a flash can be invasive but possible when you ask for permission. Using an off camera flash is more versatile because you can change the location of the light source.


Use Tools

Being a natural light or minimal equipment photographer is great for travel portrait photography. You won’t have the opportunity to carry around a lot of equipment so you’ll need to be mindful of what you bring. A useful tool which takes up very little space is a reflector. Reflectors are called a photographer’s secret weapon for a reason. They are lightweight, versatile, and a can add dramatically and professional lighting to a portrait. A good size for ttravel portrait photography is 12″ because you can hold it yourself while you shoot. Smaller reflectors are stronger in their lighting, so be aware of distance placed from the subject. Off camera flashes, neutral density filters and a good tripod are other essential tools you may want to have on you at all times.

Engage/Look for Emotion

In a 2013 interview with Steve McCurry, he mentions the key to shooting strong travel portraits is to convey the story of the subject. You want the viewer to understand what life is like for this person. If you want to take stunning portraits, you need to be close to your subject. This means approaching them and starting a conversation. Be respectful of their culture and if they say no to a picture request, move on. There are plenty more people that are perfect for travel portrait photography. If they allow it, get close and frame the image. You should have already decided how to compose the image, so now you can just take the shot. Do take your time here. You’ve just asked for permission, so don’t rush the image now. Move around if you need to. Ask your subject to move if they can to better lighting if the lighting where you are is bad. This ties to the previous tip of finding the best light. You should have good light because of the time of day of your travel portrait photography. After you have the shot, thank them and show them the image. Offer to send it to them if there is a way.


Tell A Story

In a 2013 interview with Steve McCurry, he mentions the key to shooting strong travel portraits is to convey the story of the subject. You want the viewer to understand what life is like for this person. To do this, you’ll want to engage with the subject as mentioned above. Try and learn what their life is like, so you can better portray this through the portrait. If it benefits the image, include some background and make it an environmental portrait. Think about the overall story you are conveying with your trip to this place. You want your images to be strong enough to stand on their own but also think about a photo essay or even a book.

The Road Less Traveled

With the expanse of photography in the world, there are not many areas which are still untouched. However, you can venture off the beaten path to explore some less photographed towns during your trip. If needed, find a fixer or someone who can show you around and ensure you are safe. This is especially valid for solo travelers, you want someone on your side who speaks the language. While it could be challenging shooting in more remote areas, you will be sure to get a unique image showing the true emotion of the place. Make sure you smile, engage with the subjects and show them the images you’ve taken. People love to see a great photograph of themselves. If needed, it might also be a good idea to carry some small change with you to offer in exchange for a travel portrait photography.


While “Afghan Girl” portrays all of these qualities in one image, it is not easy to create a strong travel portrait. Use these tips as a guide and be sure to practice as much as possible before traveling to another country. You can walk around your hometown shooting portraits of the locals. Offer to send them the images. You’ll get some great practical experience and be able to nail down your accessories and settings before traveling. You don’t want to spend all that money just to be in another country practicing portraiture for the first time or you’ll be greatly disappointed.

6 Tips To Getting Started in Travel Photography


Travel photography is the ultimate dream job. Flying around the world, shooting beautiful locations and fun events. While this is the case, there is so much more work to this industry than it would seem. Travel photography is not always glamorous and can involve sleep deprivation, exotic illnesses, and lonely trips. However, if you are still passionate and committed to joining this industry, following the below steps will help you in your journey.


Do Your Research

Become an expert in how the industry works. Read all the magazines, bookmark all the blogs, and follow the major writers. Knowing how all the details work will help you and begin crafting your own stories and pitches. Figure out what you can contribute that makes you unique. Even better, find a mentor who is willing to help you along your journey. Either way, do as much research as you can to make sure this is what you want to jump into. And once you’ve made that choice, jump in full throttle. This industry requires commitment, determination, and true passion.

Websites like CreativeLive, Lynda.com, and Skillshare all have photography classes featuring travel photography. Watch them all. Watch the National Geographic Art of Travel Photography course. There will always be opportunities to learn something new in this field.


Start Local

Just because you want to pursue travel photography, doesn’t mean you need to travel far to begin. Start local, travel to some surrounding cities you don’t often visit and walk around. Learn how to compose images and frame a story. Think about who will want to buy these images or what type of story they contribute to. It’s best to have a plan mapped out, so you are sure to hit the right checkpoints. This is better to begin local anyways because this will take some time to develop. You wouldn’t want to waste money on a big trip, only to get there and realize you aren’t prepared with a plan.



These days it seems most photographers also provide written content with their photographs. This is, of course, dependent on the publication and the photographer. If you are working with a larger publication, more than likely they will send a writer along with you. But, for the smaller publications and online blogs, pitching a complete article is pretty necessary at this point. If you think you will never be a good writer, think again. Writing just takes practice, like any other skill. Like photography. Put in the time to do some write ups with your images and either post them on your blog or pitch them to other blogs. You’ll find that this skill builds up quick, and in no time you’ll be writing cohesive, intelligent articles. Use a grammar editing program like Grammarly or Hemmingway to help when editing your work. These services are great for understanding basic grammar and sentence construction.


Build a Portfolio

It’s important to have an online portfolio as well as a social media presence. I’ve heard countless photographers talk about jobs they’ve gotten on platforms like Instagram. Social media is also great for building a large audience and becoming an influencer. That alone will get the attention of major brands since your images will reach such a wide audience. You’ll also want to have an online portfolio to showcase your work in a more formal way. Keep it simple, just a basic slideshow of images, and make sure it speaks to your desired market. Showing a wide variety of work may look nice, but it won’t have a brand convinced you are the best candidate for them. Don’t overflood the portfolio either. Maintain a few categories within your market, with no more than 15 images in each. Be selective here, only the strongest images should make it. Including a clear contact page, fun about page and blog are also great ways to show your personality.


Pitch Ideas

Now that you’ve created some stories, story ideas, and a portfolio, you are ready to pitch. Local publications and smaller online blogs are great to start with. They will more likely give you a chance and pay (although not a lot) for your articles. This way, you are gaining experience, building a writing portfolio, and making some cash. Once you have more articles and experience built up, you can reach higher for larger audiences. Don’t get deterred if this takes time. The market is competitive right now and oversaturated. This doesn’t mean you won’t find work, it just may take some time. The key to speeding up the process is practice. Keep shooting and writing and always have a plan.


Get on Stock Sites

One way travel photographers make money is through stock sales. Stock sites, like iStock or Getty Images, sell your images for editorial or commercial use. You get a small piece for every sale. This is great for travel photography as clients always seem to be looking for cultural images for commercial use. It’s great for the photographer as well because their images are making money behind the scenes. Make sure you are always looking for stock worthy images while out shooting. Get a good sense of what images they need and their requirements, so you won’t get rejected. Of course, there are other ways travel photographers make money, but getting started early in stock will help you build a steady income from the beginning.

There is a lot more to this industry than what’s outlined above, but this is going to get you a great base set of skills and portfolio pieces. If you are interested in further reading into travel photography, check out more Sleeklens articles and start reading travel magazines and blogs daily.


8 Architectural Photo Opportunities in Amsterdam

Architecture in Amsterdam

Amsterdam is famous for its canals, but it’s also filled with an abundance of architecture; everything from Renaissance style to contemporary and modern. There are so many amazing photographic opportunities;  I’ll share 8 of my favourites with you:

Canal Houses

These picture-postcard homes line the banks of the many waterways of the city. Although plenty of the homes are still lived in, many have now been turned into offices, museums or places to stay, so there’s ample opportunity to take a peek inside one.

Amsterdam Architecture

Photographically, these stunning pieces of history are best viewed from the canal banks. Hopefully, you’ll get the right sunlight and weather to capture them reflected in the water.

The Royal Palace

Originally designed and built in the 17th century as the City Hall, the Royal Palace can be found in the heart of Amsterdam, at Dam Square. After Louis Napoleon became the King of Holland, he redecorated the hall in Empire style. Since then, the changes have been undone and the building more closely represents its original state.

The Royal Palace, Amsterdam
The Royal Palace, Amsterdam

Use a wide-angle lens to get this whole magnificent building in and then capture some of the ornate details around the top with a zoom. Try a long shutter speed to blur the people in the foreground if you’d like a less ‘busy’ shot.

Old Meets New

There’s a pleasant mix of old and new in Amsterdam and sometimes the two meet:

Contemporary Building, Amsterdam
Contemporary Building, Amsterdam

This modern façade can be found on Rokin rod­ not far from Dam Square. Built in the traditional shape and style of the other canal houses, its additions of glass and colour really make it stand out. While some may deem this an ‘eye sore’, with its interesting glass reflections, it’s certainly worth a photograph or two.


Where there are canals, there will be bridges and Amsterdam and with over 2000 across the city, you really can’t turn around without seeing one of them!

Amsterdam Architecture
Magere Brug or ‘Skinny Bridge’

The Skinny Bridge (or Magere Brug) is amongst the most famous – you may have even spotted it in a film or two!

Windows and Shutters

A variety of shutters can be found adorning the buildings around the city
A variety of shutters can be found adorning the buildings around the city

Shutters are a big part of Amsterdam’s architecture and you’ll find a weird and wonderful array of them as you walk around the city. With so much glass used in the design of buildings, coupled with glare from the water, houses can get really bright and hot, so shutters provide an important function as well as looking pretty.

Lamp Posts

Looking up can get you some new takes on architecture, but what about the things we tend to ignore or take for granted?

Lamp Posts are a great opportunity for some unique shots

It never fails to amaze me how many different styles of lamp posts there are around cities and Amsterdam is no different. They range from the stark and imposing red of the picture above on the right to the ornate, carved grandeur of the one on the left.

Monuments and Memorials

The Jewish Memorial in the Holland Theatre
The Jewish Memorial in the Holland Theatre

Like most cities, Amsterdam has its share of memorials. A particularly stark looking and touching one can be found in the Holland Theatre in the Jewish Quarter. Entry is free and the memorial pictured above can be found at the back of the museum where the old theatre itself once stood.


Amsterdam Architecture
Churches of many different religions are in abundance throughout Amsterdam

There are churches and places of worship to reflect many religions, in Amsterdam and each one has special photographic appeal.

Some particular churches of note are the Oude Kerk (Old Church) in the now Red Light District, the Nieuwe Kerk (New Church), a 14th-century church where many Dutch monarchs have been crowned; and the various synagogues in the Jewish Quarter.

If you’re visiting Amsterdam, I hope this article gives you some photographic inspiration and to finish, here are my top tips for getting some great photos of buildings:

  • Do research before you go to make the best use of your time once you arrive.
  • Take a wide lens to capture buildings with their full drama.
  • Try a long shutter speed if there are lots of people cluttering the shot.
  • Remember to look up and see if there are any new angles to take advantage of.

Going Manual With Auto ISO

Sometimes it just pays to read the camera manual. In there is a nifty little item that I’m not entirely certain is a well-known feature of most decent cameras. Auto ISO. Admittedly, I had read articles about this for years and perhaps I was just skeptical of the way proponents spoke of Auto ISO as if it was photography’s unicorn. So I never cracked open the manual to find out how to use it.

And then finally, I understood. Here’s how that happened.

Jason on free rappel_mini
Jason rappelling down a 320-foot wall in an explored canyon near Death Valley. With a manual setting of 1/750 at f/11, the auto ISO plugged in 1250 for the speed. I got what I needed—some depth of field to keep the background moderately in focus and enough shutter speed to freeze the canyoneer.

Shooting Without Auto ISO—Not Always Great

One of my favorite subjects to photograph is canyoneering, not the easiest sport to record because the participants are traveling through deep canyons that can be cave-like in darkness or blasting bright under direct sunlight or both at the same time. When I first started, I held to old habits and set my camera for aperture-priority. In other words, I selected—usually f/8—as my operating lens aperture and just let the camera choose the shutter speed based on the ambient light.

(Why f/8? For starters, most of my canyoneering images require a wide angle lens because the spaces are relatively tight, so that aperture gives me decent depth of field while not compromising too much on shutter speed. That is, to stop down more would mean a slower shutter speed. Also, f/8 tends to be one of the sharpest settings for my lenses. Now, I’m not a fanatic about such things, but to go past f/11 usually gets me into lens diffraction territory where the image begins to degrade a bit. Again, I don’t lose sleep over such things, but if I can, I will use that f/8 sweet spot. Lastly, f/8, when employed on close-ups or longer lenses, has a nice, middle-of-the-road shallow depth of field that I like.)

Here’s what I discovered rather quickly: I was constantly fiddling with the camera settings despite the supposedly effort-saving quality of something as semi-automatic as aperture-priority. I had to quickly raise the ISO beyond my favorite 400 whenever the action went into dim shadows or open the lens to its widest, f/2.8. Suddenly, I wasn’t getting that f/8 look I valued so much.

Second, with the quickly changing nature of capturing people rappelling down ropes or down-climbing over obstacles, I sometimes didn’t see that my shutter speed was too slow and I came back with a lot of blurred messes.

Lastly, more often than I like to admit, I would pump up the ISO to some astronomical number in order to shoot in low light, forget the camera was set for that and take the next pictures in bright sunlight. Somehow, engineers haven’t quite figured out how to make ISO 12800 look good under the midday sun.

While I expect most people reading this don’t go canyoneering, no doubt you’ve been in similar circumstances where you don’t want to manually set the camera for every shot, but at the same time want more control because of the changing light conditions.

Annette on second rappel_mini
Little Santa Anita Canyon in the San Gabriel Mountains near Los Angeles. I had set the camera for 1/250 at f/8, enough to hold Annette in focus. The ISO set itself to 2500. Noise is totally acceptable versus the canyoneer blurring.

Try Auto ISO

I make it simple and nearly foolproof. For my Canon cameras—a 1Dx and 5DMIII—I push the ISO setting button on the top plate and go downward beyond 100 to A. Yeah, that’s right. A for Auto ISO. Next, I set the Mode to manual and select the shutter speed and aperture that I want to use for the day. For canyoneering, that’s most often 1/500 at f/8. Except in the dimmest of conditions—deep in a canyon or early/late day—I don’t worry about the exposure and can concentrate on the action. The camera maintains the manual setting and merely adjusts the ISO up or down to meet my needs.

Yes, that’s right, for those who find heavy noise in a picture repugnant, that potentially means really, really high ISOs. Five-figure ISOs. And the chunky noise that comes with them. I’m probably the least sympathetic person when it comes to this. My attitude is simple: I need to come back with action shots that aren’t blurred, period. So noise is better than nothing.

I still need to monitor my lighting conditions. For example, if it’s an exceptionally dark place, Auto ISO will crank up to the maximum I set for my cameras—25600—and if that still isn’t enough, will simply let the picture go under-exposed. In bright conditions, it will first set to ISO 100 and if that doesn’t work with the manual exposure, then I’ll get over-exposed pictures. Nothing’s perfect.

market vendor_mini
Vendor, Rosarito, Mexico. I had set the camera for 1/500 at f/8 for grab shots (in other words, guerilla-style shooting where I was literally shooting from the hip) and the auto ISO set the camera to 400.

Works Great For Travel Photos

On a recent trip to Rosarito, Mexico, I employed Auto ISO to the fullest. While we rummaged through the market there, I was able to shoot both indoors and outdoors without fiddling with the camera once. The high ISO pictures still looked great and were sharp. Later, we went boogie-boarding in the Pacific Ocean where I set the camera for 1/1000 at f/8 and shot from the beach with a long lens or in the surf with a wide angle packed safely inside a water-tight housing. Didn’t lose a single shot due to the action blurring.

Jerri boogie boarding 3_mini
Jerri on a boogie board while Reid gets crushed by a wave, Rosarito. I set the camera for 1/750 to freeze most action and the 15-35mm lens was set at f/6.7. ISO went all the way down to 100.

One last note: With the 5DMIII, manually setting the exposure with Auto ISO locks me out of using exposure compensation. (Dear Canon: This is stupid!) With the 1Dx, I can dive into the custom settings where I’ve assigned the SET button to the task. I press SET and dial in the compensation I need. Check your manual to see if your manufacturer allows this sometimes important function.

Poncho Villa statue_mini
Bust of Poncho Villa, Rosarito, Mexico. Not a lot light here, so the auto ISO went all the way to 12800. Short of setting up a tripod, I wouldn’t have been able to get this picture with any other, slower speed.

I’m not saying Auto ISO is for every occasion. It makes no sense for shooting landscapes where you usually want a low ISO and are using a tripod. But after using it a few times, you may realize there really is a photographic unicorn, and it’s going manual with Auto ISO.


(Note on the opening photograph. One of the nice things about auto ISO is knowing the camera is already set. I was able to knock out a couple of shots of a friend’s dog without worrying whether the shutter was fast enough for the kind of picture I wanted to get. Nailed it.)

Travel Photography – How to Shoot Crowded Locations

Introduction In travel photography, it can be difficult to photograph locations filled with tourists, but nevertheless, we want to get amazing photos of the great places on this earth, which often happens to be filled with tourists.In this article, I will give you some tips on how you can photograph places with a lot of tourists and get incredible results. I will be using my trip to Venice as an example throughout the article.

Before you go

If you plan to visit popular tourist destinations and look to do a lot of photography I highly recommend that you go off-season, when there are fewer tourists. In Europe, the high season will be during the summer months for most places, and therefore it is preferable to visit sometime else during the year. Depending on the location the months just before or after summer can be great to visit but also during the colder months. By choosing seasons with low numbers of tourists you will find it much easier to photograph places without getting tourists in the frame anywhere you point your camera. I went to Venice in October which turned out to be a great decision, the weather was nice with temperatures reaching twenty degrees celsius (still needed warm clothes for sunrises and sunsets) and primarily there were considerably fewer tourists compared to the summer months.VenedigPS21-2

You also need to bring a suitable camera equipment depending on what you will be photographing, Besides from your camera I recommend that you at least bring a normal zoom lens and if you have, a wide angle and telephoto lens. If the normal zoom lens doesn’t have an aperture of f/2,8 you could consider bringing a normal prime lens as well. For my style of photography a tripod is invaluable, so I recommend bringing that as well if you are going to do anything else than shooting in daylight, which I strongly encourage for many reasons (more on that later). In Venice, I almost exclusively used my 24-70mm f/2,8 on my Nikon D800 which was a great setup that worked for street photography, cityscapes, and various other shots.

If you haven’t already been to the location you are going to you should also research what places are good for photography. Sites like 500px.com are great to get inspiration from. Knowing what places to visit before you go can save you a lot of time and effort when you arrive and will, of course, help you find good places to photograph.


Shooting beautiful places and avoiding tourists

If you want to get fantastic photos of usually crowded places a quite obvious solution is to go when the place is empty, luckily this is usually the same time that the light is the most beautiful, only drawback being that your sleep might suffer. Sunrise is a great time to capture places that are usually packed full of tourists since most of them still will be sleeping and the light usually is perfect. I recommend that you wake up with enough time to arrive at the place you plan to photograph (know where you are going in advance and stick to one place per sunrise) and still have some time to set up before the sun actually rises, and sometimes you can find some great photos just before sunrise. This might mean that you have to wake up as early as 05.00 in some cases, but trust me, it’s worth it.

Early sunrise in Venice
The same location later on the same day.

Another alternative is to photograph places at night using long exposures, this will, of course, yield an entirely different look to the photo and the risk of tourists will be entirely eliminated (for the most part at least).


If you are staying in the same place for a while it can be a good idea to come back to a place several times if you are not happy with the photos at first. Maybe you wanted to capture a fantastic sunset looking out over a city but when the time comes your sunset is ruined by a thick layer of clouds. In this case, you might be able to come back the next day and get a fantastic photo.

Another important tip is to be patient. Try not to be frustrated when a couple of selfie stick-wielding tourists are blocking your perfect shot of the Rialto Bridge, but rather set up your tripod, frame the picture and be ready to press the shutter as soon as they move out of the way. This is relevant not just when waiting to get a clear shot but also while waiting for the light to change for the better, I once stood for two straight hours on the top of Tour Montparnasse in Paris packed full of tourists waiting for the light to be just right so I could get the shot of the Eiffel Tower that I really wanted. Eventually, I got the shot.


Since the tourists are gathered among the most famous sites you can try your luck exploring less known parts of a city, you might be surprised by what you can find. But when you are photographing those famous landmarks, try to do it differently from everybody else. This can be done by finding unique angles or concentration on details among other things.


Also, you should not rely on Photoshop to fix issues there might be with your picture, like bad technique or tourists in the frame. Yes, you can do a lot in post-processing, but it is always best to start out with the best possible shot, so if there is something you are not happy with, try to fix it on location. But don’t forget that if it’s done right it can be really interesting to have people in your images as well.


If there really are too many tourists that won’t be moving out of the way at any time soon (and you can’t come back later) you can use a really dark ND-filter to achieve a very long exposure, which will make the tourists disappear, as long as they are not standing still.


In conclusion, we can say that it is important to plan ahead and time your shots if you want to avoid tourists ruining your photos. But there are also some techniques for dealing with the tourists if you really have to face them. With this in mind, I hope that you will capture some truly amazing photos on your next visit to a tourist magnet!6-2

Best locations for Selfies: 2020 Edition

A fad that came to stay: the selfies. And what is so special in these pictures that, until a few years ago was nothing more than the simple habit of some travelers to auto – portray themselves if they were alone? Maybe you can say it is something related to newer generations and the heavy exposure of Social Media networks; others may say it’s due to the changing trends of famous people…

Regardless of its origins, selfies are fun, easy to take and the best of all: you don’t need to be an expert or have a high end camera to take one – just grab your smartphone and enjoy a nice photo session! Nevertheless, taking a selfie at a cool place can sum up to the whole selfie experience, mostly if your aim is to rank up higher in Social Media or if you die for the thrill of adventure. Let’s go through some of the best locations for taking a selfie in 2016!

1. The Maldives

Picture this: crystal clear water, kilometers of beach shore, lovely villas, island climate plus some exotic cocktails while enjoying a sunset lying on a chaise – sounds like paradise right? An archipelago of 1,192 coral islands grouped into 26 coral atolls in the Indian Ocean, it’s widely known as one of the best places in the world to indulge yourself with guilt-free leisure time. And, if you happen to be adventure-driven, be sure to pack an underwater camera as The Maldives is the ideal place for an underwater selfie, with its many variations of sea life: corals and over 2000 species of fish.

2. Tower Bridge, London


The most popular bridge in the world for taking selfies, thousands of tourists choose this particular place filled with historical anecdotes for a selfie on-the-go. This suspension bridge that crosses the River Thames, and close by the Tower of London has become an iconic symbol of the city. Whenever there is a special event in London, like the 2012 Olympics and Paralympic Games, this Victorian-styled bridge will take an active part in publicity campaigns as the most vivid demonstration of Londoner pride.

3. Corcovado – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil


A tourist city par excellence, in Rio de Janeiro you can find a vast sum of landscapes worthy of being photographed – but it says nothing more “Rio de Janeiro” than a selfie at Corcovado mountain. The place of classic postcards of the city, enjoy a selfie next to the monument of Christ the Redeemer, one of the 7 World Wonders.

4. Empire State Building – New York, USA


The 102-story Art Deco skyscraper located in Midtown Manhattan features two observation decks: the well known 86th floor observation deck, with one of the most beautiful, breathtaking sights of New York City or, for those who don’t experience vertigo, the 102th floor one, where you can sightsee the entire city, although at a completely indoor place – you can even travel back in time by getting there in an old-fashioned manual Otis elevator.

5. Eiffel Tower – Paris, France


A classic for couples and those romantic without remedy, the Eiffel Tower in Paris is one of those places in the world that do not require a prior introduction. Leave the Parisian charm to inspire you to get a selfie of quality – and as everyone has already said, only in Paris can you enjoy “la vie en rose”.

6. Santorini, Grece


Envisioning a paradise in the Aegean Sea? There is no better definition for Santorini. This Greek island will make you feel that even sky sports another tonality with just exploring its charming alleys, while you enjoy the aroma of the local cuisine. A selfie in Santorini, with an attractive sunset in the background, and you’ll have the perfect picture!

7. Marina Bay, Singapore


One of the most amazing places in the world is located in the heart of Asia. Marina Bay, tourist city par excellence of Singapore, not only hosts events from the level of a Formula 1 GP, but also a vast amount of scenarios with contemporary architecture for every taste and style. If you are planning to go to Singapore, don’t forget your selfie stick.

8. Kathmandu, Nepal


If you are looking for a place filled with spirituality, Kathmandu is should be your destination!. Landscapes worth to be framed, stories of ancient times and an endless number of Buddhist symbolism within our reach. On your next exotic trip to Asia do not miss the chance of a Nepal tour, with a spiritual-inspired selfie experience.

9. Bosphorus Bridge – Istambul, Turkey


Where Europe and Asia meet… This particular bridge in Turkey is known as the Bosphorus Bridge, which crosses the Bosphorus strait, links more than two continents; two completely different cultures. A unique place in the world, worthy to be remembered forever with a maritime selfie.

10. Kruger National Park – South Africa


If you are one of those people who enjoy the great plains and exotic destinations, you should not miss the chance to get an interesting selfie in this reserve of natural wildlife located in South Africa. With guided tours and the opportunity to see magnificent specimens in their natural habitat, which would undoubtedly be an unforgettable destination; and who knows, you may be lucky enough to get a selfie with a cute Meerkat.

Do you have any other places in mind you want to share with us? The most important thing you have to remember is that a selfie is all about being yourself – be careless and enjoy life through your camera!