Travel Hacks

How to Take Better Travel Photos: 24 Top Tips

by Team Fathom
Montenegro Chilling in Montenegro. Photo by Zach Leon.

As anyone who scrolls disappointedly through their trip photos knows, getting the right shot is no easy feat.

But not impossible.

If you know what to do.

We asked the pros for their best tips — how to shoot, edit, buy better gear, and stay organized — which we compiled in a handy PDF you can download below.

In no time at all, you'll be capturing better, punchier pics for your ever-growing albums and Instagram and Facebook feeds.

"How'd you get that shot??" your friends will ask.

"Easy," you'll tell them.

The Nile River. Photo by Pauline Chardin.

A Few of Our Favorite Tips

Play with Vantage Points
Instead of taking a photo, think about making a photo. When you're focused on creating, you’ll delve deeper into the process, making way for a more personal image. If you’re shooting a tourist hotspot, experiment with framing, play with different vantage points, or just turn around and shoot the atmosphere instead of the spectacle. – Zach Leon

Ask for Permission
If I’m in another country, I’ll learn how to ask to take someone's photo in their language. If I’m traveling with my instant Polaroid camera, I’ll offer them a print. You’d be surprised by the bond you create when you show people the respect they deserve. – Michaela Trimble

Shoot with a Fresh Eye
You make your best shots when you've just arrived somewhere, and everything is new and exciting. Don't get lazy and think you'll do it later. By then, you’ll have lost some of the spark. – Pauline Chardin, The Voyageur

Get Up Early
Shooting around sunrise usually means clear beaches, uncrowded streets, more simplicity, and better light. To make this easier, stay in the neighborhood or area where you want to shoot. This may mean a campsite, as opposed to the hip hotel far away from the beach you plan to photograph. – Emily Nathan, Tiny Atlas Quarterly

Machapuchare in Nepal. Photo by Mandy Sham.

Play with Color
I prefer warmer tones and pastels in my images and, through the HSL tool in apps like VSCO and Lightroom, I am able to create a more nuanced result than what might result from tools like the white balance slider. Subtlety is key. I also like saturating thematic colors, which vary depending on the subject matter. – Mandy Sham

Find Your Filter
When posting to Instagram, I can’t live without VSCO’s S2 filter. It makes my photos brighter and lighter: Exactly the way I want them. – Pauline Egge, Petite Passport

Master Your Lens
I really don't like buying too much gear, especially when starting out. Instead, I recommend buying a lens or light modifier and using it until it becomes a part of you. You want to be able to pick up a camera and, without looking down for a moment, take the shots that you have in your mind. To do that, you need to master the tools you have before adding to your arsenal. – Tanveer Badal

Morocco. Photo by Jessica Sample.

Travel Light
Even though my blog is called The Travelling Light, I've been guilty of not traveling so light. Until now: I replaced my heavy Sigma lenses (35mm and 24-105mm), which take beautiful photos but are not that practical if you're going out for a whole day, with a simple 40mm Canon pancake lens. I hardly notice the difference in the images and am so much happier taking my camera out with a lighter and smaller lens. – Katie McKnoulty, The Travelling Light

Map It Out
Plan your trip from start to finish. This will help ensure you get all the shots you want, especially if you’re traveling somewhere for a short period and don’t have time to double-back to places. I use Sygic Travel Maps to scout photogenic hotels, restaurants, shops, and sites. Then I plot all the places I want to visit on a Google Map and calculate the best route between them. – Marcello Maselli

Chase the Light
When deciding whether to schedule a shoot in the early morning or early evening, I use the Sun Seeker app to see exactly where the sun will be hitting the place I have in mind at different times of the day. In general, it's best to shoot East-facing places in the morning and West-facing places before sunset to get the best light. – Jessica Sample

Download the Guide

Click here to get the full guide.

Thank you to Emily Nathan of Tiny Atlas Quarterly, Pauline Egge of Petite Passport, Katie McKnoulty of The Travelling Light, Marcus Lloyd of This Is The Place I Was Telling You About, Pauline Chardin of The Voyaguer, Jessica Sample, Mandy Sham, Natasha Lee, Marcello Maselli, Zach Leon, Tanveer Badal, Michaela Trimble, and Breanna Wilson for contributing.

Snap! More Photo Inspiration and Tips

What Are the Best Photo Apps? We Asked the Pros
Our Favorite Travel Photographer Portfolios
The 24 Best Travel Apps

We make every effort to ensure the information in our articles is accurate at the time of publication. But the world moves fast, and even we double-check important details before hitting the road.