Something that’s essential for every travel photography to learn are the “dos and don’ts of travel photography.” They’re really helpful, no matter if you’re someone who wants to build up their repertoire or even just to send photos to friends and family. You don’t have to be a photography expert to incorporate some of these tips and tricks, but a little bit will go a long way. If you’re a camera connoisseur, a few of these may seem elementary or obvious to you. However, if you keep your eye out you won’t believe how often you’ll see other traveler photographers committing many of these mistakes.

Don’t Buy It All

Young Woman Listening to Dos and Don'ts of Travel Photography by Using Polaroid

One of the most difficult-to-cure diseases in photography is the dreaded gear head syndrome, where one feels like they need a ton of awesome, ridiculously expensive gear to become good at it. The truth is that a talented photographer can typically take a strong shot with an ancient throwaway film camera, with no bells or whistles loaded into its feature menu. My point is to start slow, buy the absolute necessities – a camera and 1-2 lenses (THAT’S IT!) – and as you grow and hone your style and expertise, then you can slowly purchase new equipment that you will then take the time to master as well. Do this before moving on to the next big, shiny, beautiful piece of metal, glass, or plastic. Save your money for hotel stays, flights deals, and foods expenses; you don’t want to spend it all on your equipment.

Don’t Copy, Copy, Copy

I must contradict myself with this point, as I think it’s a good idea to ‘copy’ another photographer’s work, BUT ONLY to learn how they accomplished a certain shot or style. However, don’t mold yourself into being a copycat – no one likes that guy. Learn all of the styles that interest you, then mold them into your own natural style of photography – one that fits your eye and your art, but also still follows the basic dos and don’ts of travel photography.

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Shoot With Focus

Woman Following Dos and Don'ts of Travel Photography

One of the major technical issues that most newbies make is that they’re soft on the focus in their image. It’s okay to play with macro lenses and close focus shots, where the background or immediate foreground is pushed out of focus in the shot, but it’s DEFINITELY NOT okay to have shots that are entirely soft. Take your shots as sharp as you can make them – for later when I talk about post-production and editing, you will be able to have all of the detail of your scene available for manipulation. If you’ve taken a great shot but zoom in a bit and see that there’s actually no real detail, the shot is worthless, because you won’t be able to successfully manipulate it, nor will you be able to produce prints of the image.

A few points to procuring the sharpest shot possible is to shoot steady, either put your strap around your neck and pull against yourself gently to steady yourself or shoot on a steady object (like a tripod, monopod, gorilla pod, or sandbags, for example). After each shot, it’s important to use your screen (for digital cameras with LCD screens) to zoom in on the image, so that you can make sure that you nailed the shot correctly.

No One Likes an Over-Editor

Man Following Dos and Don'ts of Travel Photography by Editing Photos

Editing in post-production can be fun and yield interesting and unique results – as you can see from my own work, everything goes through some post-editing work. However, it goes a dime a dozen for how often new photographers publish work that has been extremely over-edited and destroyed. I do encourage playing around on Photoshop (or other editors), for the point of learning how the tools work and how they can be applied successfully in the future to improve (not destroy) your work. Just because your photo editor application has cool color effects and unique-looking antique borders doesn’t mean you should use them on all or any of your photos just yet!

Don’t Call Yourself a Photographer…Yet

The point here is to not become too confident or cocky – continue to ask for the opinion of others, as accepting criticism is of huge importance in the development of a photographer. I joined a few online groups and got my butt whooped for a year until I developed my work into something worthwhile.

Editor’s note: You can learn more about Brandon Elijah Scott at EyeAndPen.com, where you can also see examples of his travel photography.

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