We can’t deny it: pictures are among the most special memories from our trips. Of course, there are souvenirs with sentimental value, food, and everything, but pictures make us remember the incredible days that we live in that destination. I really love to have good photos during my trips. All I know about photography I learned from my sister, Meiry. She taught me how to set up my camera and always gives me several tips. So, I invited her to write about it and give some tips to help you have incredible memories from your trip to New York City – or anywhere in the world! For those who want to know more about her work, just click here. She lives in Paris and does photoshoots in the city. Also, follow her on Instagram @flaneriephoto.
When Laura asked me to write a post about travel photos, I was in doubt about how to approach the subject. Nothing instigates me more than photographing in a place I’ve never been before. That’s because it brings together two of my passions: photography and travel. My memory is not the best, and when I review photos from a trip that happened a long time ago, I remember not only the exact moment of the click but also what I had eaten before, how I get to the place, this kind of thing. However, I think most tips would not necessarily be exclusively for travel photos, but for any type of photo. I like to observe many things before I photograph, and I will share some of these things here. I will illustrate this post with older and more recent photos, according to some points that I take into consideration to shoot. Of course, these are important points for me, and may not be for you, but this is what is cool about photography: there is no rule.
Besides the photos of the place itself, I like having at least one nice photo of myself, because I do not shoot myself often, so it’s a good opportunity. And then we get to the first point. A lot of people love selfies, I’m not much of a fan of it. Especially if it is taken with a selfie stick. It must be because I live in a city so touristy that I see many self-sticks all the time, and not everyone has a sense of space when using that thing…
In general, selfies are made with a phone and slightly deform the face, because of the large angle of the lens. But the main point here is that selfie shows a lot more of the person than of the place, and the idea, at least for me, on a trip, is to show the place that we are visiting, right? But if you’re loving yourself and the light is good, why not? If you can’t avoid the selfie stick, at least take the photo hiding it and leave it only for the open and spacious places. Never use the selfie stick at museums. Never. Please.
Since I’m not a selfie expert, I have a few options. The first one is taking the photo by myself if I have the tripod and the trigger (I also recommend using the timer function, which is available on any camera or smartphone). You can also support the camera or smartphone in some wall or object and it usually works. The second option is to ask someone to take the picture for me. I always take a picture of the person before, to show how I want it, and I set the camera. If I’m traveling alone, I wait until I see someone with a camera of the same type as mine, because then I’m sure that at least the focus will be good. The last option is the selfie. But then I try to do something different to show the place:
If you want to be in a picture with a monument, building, or anything very large, the secret is to take distance. If you are at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, for example, it will be very difficult to get a picture getting everything and this angle does not always give a good result. I’d say it’s risky. Also, if the photographer takes distance and you keep near to the monument, you be small and unrecognizable in the picture. Go far away from the monument with the photographer and get your picture. If there are many people around you, be patient, and wait for the perfect moment.
Now I will focus more on pictures of places, not necessarily portraits, but many of the tips are applicable in all cases, so I will illustrate with pictures and landscapes. As I talked about museums before, I will ask you something. Avoid staying with your phone in front of the arts, taking a lot of photos. Everyone here wants to see the art and if you shoot and still want to choose the filters with the cell phone wielded in front of the art (I’ve seen this so many times) what you will get is a not very good picture of the work and much people angry with you. If you can not resist, try to take some original photos. If it is only to register the art, remember that you will find super faithful reproductions and in high resolution of tons of works of art on the internet.
Another tip: wake up early. Yes, you are traveling, probably with jet lag, tired… but do it. It is not for one or two good reasons. Walking very early gives you the unique opportunity to see the place free of tourists, quiet and, also, you can enjoy the sunrise and that wonderful light of the morning.
The sunrise light and the light before sunset are known as the golden hour. I don’t think I need to explain why right? The fact is, unlike what many people imagine, this light is best for shooting most of the time, both in tones and in softness. In the case of a portrait, you will not have that shadow from top to bottom in the eyes, as happen on midday. In the case of a landscape, you will have the sky in more colors than at any other time of day. Speaking of light, have you heard about the blue hour? Note that after the sun goes down and there is no longer anything golden, the sky is still dark. It is in an incredible blue, which does not last for many minutes. Enjoy 🙂
Find out if there is something special happening at the place during the time you will be there. And register. It could be an annual party, a parade, an intervention …
Also, learn to respect rules, culture, and the past. In many places, photography is prohibited. Whatever the reason, respect. Try to know a little about the history and the culture of the place and, regardless of your personal judgment, respect.
Remember to be observant, thorough, patient. Wait for the right moment. Look up and down. Look for reflexes. Be creative!
Speaking of unfavorable conditions, have you thought about waking up on a cold and rainy day, and leaving early for photos? This formula is not always synonymous with failure.
Well, you didn’t wake up early and now the place is full? This is not always a problem. Think of some way to explore the people’s presence. Usually, the movement is an element that enriches the photo. Increase the exposure time a bit and catch people like smudges!
What if you really don’t want anyone in your photo? Be patient. At some point, you will succeed.
“But I don’t have a good camera like yours … my pictures will never be great …” Really? Have you ever heard that the best camera is the one with you? Yeah. That says two things to me. The first is: always have your camera with you. You never know when you will come across something incredible. The second is that you should try to do the best you can with what you have in hand. So don’t become obsessed with the equipment. It is often important to leave the camera aside and enjoy the moment.
Observe people, animals … not just the landscape. You will find out a lot about the place you are visiting.
Try new frames, look for different angles, look up, look down … be more observant. Try to do something original, as far as possible, if you are shooting something that has been photographed millions of times. Notice the small things, the details, the objects. Often they tell a story or reveal something that is not in the landscape.
Be careful with your equipment. It is often better to lose the picture than to risk being stolen or damaging your camera (whether with rainwater, mud, dust …). By the way, know very well all the features of your equipment. Some landscapes don’t fit the angle of your lens? How about setting up a panorama? Smartphone cameras already have the function (although I can never get it right …), and you can also take multiple pictures with your camera and then set one.
In the case of the pics above, I took 5, 6, 7 shots with the camera, and then I combined them all in one post-treatment. Speaking of which, don’t forget the photo treatment. Check if the horizon has been aligned and if the exposure has been correct … There are so many software and apps to do this, it is so fast and practical, even on the smartphone … you don’t have to discard a photo because of a detail that can be easily adjusted. Check out the potential 🙂
Also, once the photo is ready, be sure to ensure the security of your memories by backing up and, why not, by printing and editing an album?
I hope you have enjoyed my sister’s tips! Follow her on Instagram @flaneriephoto. To know more about her work, just click here. As I mentioned at the beginning, she lives in Paris and does photoshoots in the city!
Content creator and journalist in New York City. Here, I share lifestyle, beauty, NYC tips, thoughts, and the struggles about living in the most amazing city in the world! I’m not gonna pretend to be another person: I’m a Brazilian immigrant and I think this is my soul, it is part of who I am. I hope you enjoy my content! Follow me on Instagram!