Travel Photography Series: 5 Things You Need to Take More Photos Of

Posted on 26. Oct, 2012 by in Europe Travel, Photo Posts, Travel Tips

Remember this post I wrote a few tips on how to be a better photographer? These are easy ways to understand how photography works, and how to improve your technique.

But what about the subject? What about the things you want to photograph? Do you always seem to end up with the same pictures over and over again? Sometimes the greatest photos come from the most unexpected things.While a gorgeous mountain scenery is always a good idea, let’s see what often goes under the radar, and what could be a great addition to your collection.

1. Souvenirs

I love how these key rings represent Barcelona and Gaudi with the mosaic-like texture.

The famous trolls of Norway - not likely to see an actual one, so you might as well snap the souvenir version!

An old boat captain is very representative of Normandy

A different take on the Eiffel Tower

Not the most obvious, right?

This is something I’ve been doing for a while, and I think it’s a fun and quirky way to capture a city or a country’s essence, especially the mystique legends! Try to stay clear of shot glasses or mugs - that’s tacky regardless of where they are. Try to find the one souvenir that represents best the area you’re in, something that you won’t find anywhere else.

Plus, it means you don’t have to buy the souvenir and clutter your living room shelves with them. Or embarrass your friends and family by offering them a gift they most likely don’t want, and certainly don’t need!

2. Doors and windows

The many stained-glass windows in Prague

The ornate doors of Provence

Doors and windows, and architecture in general, is largely under-represented in travel photography. I’m not sure why - it’s such an original way to capture unique little details! Whether it’s the colors, the carvings or the material, there’s often something special about doors and windows, and I think this is especially true in Europe.

Quick tip: patience is key. Try to avoid people in these shots, as it takes away the focal point. Wait as long as you need to get the perfect shot, even if it means staying put for a minute or two.

3. Food

Fresh frozen yogurt

Italian lasagna

English fish&chips

French mussels

Now - this is something people already do a lot, but very often it ends up being BAD photography. Why is that?

  • Don’t use the flash - ever
  • Don’t place your camera over your plate
  • Don’t take a photo after you started eating

The technique I use is to position my camera right in front of me, just a little bit higher than the plate itself. That way you get details like the texture, the spices, the great colors, and the volume. Great food photography should make you want to crave what you see, not wonder what it is!

4. People

That little girl was having a BLAST. Her happiness was contagious!

Daddy and kiddo at the park on a lazy Sunday morning

Lunch by the sea

To be honest, I’m relatively new to this one. Not because I never wanted to try - I was just to shy to actually do it. It can be quite intimidating to take photos of people, whether they’re aware of it or not. It can also be a touchy subject, especially when it comes to children or a very conservative country. I have a lot of improvement to do on that topic, I know! But there are a few things I try to look out for:

  • Cute/happy kids
  • Daily iconic scenes (Frenchman with a baguette, Germans drinking beer, etc)
  • People at work (fisherman, market vendors, painters, etc)

5. Street plates

travel photography tips

Paris street plate covered in stickers

Street plate in the south of france - in French and Occitan, the ancestor of modern French and Catalan

Brick Lane in London

Last but not least, street plates! That’s one of my favorite things to capture, especially when it’s in a foreign language. It’s a reminder of the perhaps new alphabet, or a funny street name, or just a very iconic one like the Champs-Élysées or Abbey Road. I think it’s one of the best ways of saying “Hey, I was there!” without the cheesy finger-pointing-at-famous-sight photo.

***

Travel photography can be tricky - while having beautiful photos that you’re proud of is great, it’s also incredibly disappointing to get so-so shots. There’s a number of ways to quickly improve your skills to avoid that feeling:

  • Have a look through your favorite travel websites (or my photo essay section) and find your favorite photos
  • Try to define what inspires you - is it scenery, urban life, architecture, food…
  • Pinpoint the technical aspects that could be improved

But perhaps the most important lesson of all is to enjoy photography for what it is - a unique insight on your trip, your inspiration and your talent. Don’t let it become a chore! Find what you like, and enjoy photographing it all around the world.

And then hang your best shots all around your house, instead of cheesy plastic souvenirs! ;-)

What are your best travel photography tips? Do you agree with this list, are there things you would change or add?

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31 Responses to “Travel Photography Series: 5 Things You Need to Take More Photos Of”

  1. Andrew

    26. Oct, 2012

    Doors are my favorite subject in travel photography. I stop us often enough that my wife has started pointing out neat doors.

    People are my weak point on the list. Hard to feel it is ok somehow.

    Reply to this comment
    • Marie-Eve Vallieres

      31. Oct, 2012

      I think it depends on the circumstances. I would never photograph poverty or human distress, but I think capturing a market vendor, or people at the park is ok.

      Reply to this comment
    • Christine

      28. Sep, 2014

      I agree but I did catch a motorcyclist asleep in an urban park in Paris still wearing his helmet. Had to snap that. Doors are awesome. Also shop windows.

      Reply to this comment
  2. Laurence

    26. Oct, 2012

    Handy tips - although I often fail on the not eating the food before i take a picture of it option :)

    Reply to this comment
  3. Pascale

    26. Oct, 2012

    Souvenirs, doors… and stairs!! I love it!
    And I try, if possible, to change the angle. That makes a big difference.

    But, you know, with kids, it’s hard to take time… “Come mommy, come!” They always wait for me while I’m still doing some pictures of something…

    I would love to travel, once, in a kind of photo tour class in the mountains. Or something like that. WITHOUT kids! ;-)

    Reply to this comment
    • Marie-Eve Vallieres

      31. Oct, 2012

      Indeed, it’s important to keep a fresh look on things. Otherwise I end up with the same picture everywhere!

      Reply to this comment
  4. Corinne

    26. Oct, 2012

    Love these ideas! I have to write these down. Thanks for sharing

    Reply to this comment
  5. Holiday Addict

    26. Oct, 2012

    Great tips I’ll be making note of - I’m armed with my new camera and ready to improve my photography, starting with Verona this weekend!

    Reply to this comment
  6. Amanda

    27. Oct, 2012

    Nice tips! I’m a sucker for windows and doors and/or other cool architectural elements. For me, it’s all about the little details just as much as the bigger picture!

    Reply to this comment
    • Marie-Eve Vallieres

      31. Oct, 2012

      Exactly! It’s important to find the right balance!

      Reply to this comment
  7. Nancie

    27. Oct, 2012

    I’m a big fan of doors and windows. I like your idea about the souvenirs and the street plates.

    One thing I do is to try to find a different POV. Something can be photographed a million times, but a different POV makes it new.

    Reply to this comment
  8. Travelwriticus

    27. Oct, 2012

    I also love to take photos of manhole covers. One can learn a lot about historic emblems that way.

    Reply to this comment
  9. JoAnna

    27. Oct, 2012

    I’m actually not a fan of food photography. I think it’s way too overdone, and I personally don’t like to look at them.

    I like to take pictures of forms of transportation - surfboards, bikes, cars. I think they say a lot about a culture.

    Reply to this comment
    • Marie-Eve Vallieres

      31. Oct, 2012

      Good idea! I also like transportation, especially if it has something I don’t have at home (old-looking trams, fast trains, etc)

      Reply to this comment
  10. Julika

    29. Oct, 2012

    Awesome post! Love how your pictures capture a new perspective on cities you’d think you’ve seen it all! :)
    Will be keeping this in mind for sure!

    Reply to this comment
  11. PurpleTravelKate

    29. Oct, 2012

    Those food ones look fabbbuullloussss! I like all the pics, but they are my favourite, I actually find it really difficult to take good food pics. I blame my camera!

    Reply to this comment
    • Marie-Eve Vallieres

      31. Oct, 2012

      Buy a better camera, it really is worth the investment! ;)

      Reply to this comment
  12. I think about beer

    02. Nov, 2012

    Excellent tips! I wish I’d found them before my recent vacation. Although I did have a lot of interesting photos. I’m looking forward to my next venture with camera in hand!

    Reply to this comment
  13. Lito Espina

    03. Nov, 2012

    Brilliant ideas. I love photographing doors and food too.

    http://rzalenio.blogspot.com

    Reply to this comment
  14. Abby

    03. Nov, 2012

    What a great idea for a post!! Your pictures are so gorgeous. My food photos are just awful — I need to get a real camera lol. I get so embarrassed taking photos of people. I need to get over that!

    Reply to this comment
  15. Such a great and refreshing post!

    Reply to this comment
  16. Stacey

    13. Dec, 2014

    One of my goals for next year is to really improve my travel photos and these are some great tips!
    I do take photos of food but am making the mistake of trying to capture it from above most of the time. I’ll definitely be keeping that tip in mind.
    I also really liked that idea of taking photos of souvenirs. I had not thought of that at all. And I am sooo happy that I’m not the only one that doesn’t bring those all home for my friends and family. I have just never thought that they will like anything like that as much as I might because it was my trip after all. Heck they might not even care about the place I’ve visited!
    Thanks for sharing these tips. Off to read some of your other photography posts now! :-)

    Reply to this comment
    • Marie-Eve Vallieres

      27. Dec, 2014

      Taking photos of food from above isn’t the best idea because it doesn’t show the volume of your plate. The only time this works is if you want to take the entire table in photo (with all the dishes), then from above is the best way.

      Reply to this comment

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