Top Travel Photography Secrets for Stunning Locations
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 9 min read


There's nothing like capturing the beauty of an exotic location on camera, transforming a fleeting moment into a lifetime memory. The art of travel photography allows you to do this, and the beauty of it is that anyone can learn it. Whether you're a seasoned explorer or a beginner with a passion for photography, this guide will provide you with top secrets to finding stunning travel photography location inspiration. So, grab your camera, pack your bags, and get ready to explore the world through your lens!

Plan Ahead

The first secret to finding great travel photography location inspiration is planning ahead. Sure, spontaneous shots can sometimes capture the magic of a moment, but a little planning can go a long way in ensuring you're in the right place at the right time.

Start by researching your destination. Look for popular tourist attractions, but also try to seek out those hidden gems that only locals may know about. This can provide unique and interesting perspectives for your photographs.

Next, think about the time of day. Early morning and late evening, often referred to as the 'Golden Hours', offer warm and soft lighting—perfect for capturing stunning images. Likewise, consider the season. Some locations can offer dramatically different scenes throughout the year. For example, a forest might be lush and green in summer, but covered in a blanket of snow in winter.

Lastly, remember to check the local weather forecast. A rainy day may not be ideal for a beach shoot, but it could provide the perfect conditions for a moody cityscape.

Remember, a well-researched and planned shoot can lead to inspiring and stunning travel photography. So, get out there, explore, and let the world be your canvas!

Invest in Good Equipment

When it comes to travel photography, your equipment can make all the difference. Investing in good equipment doesn't always mean the most expensive, but rather what works best for you and the type of photography you enjoy.

Begin with a good camera— a DSLR or mirrorless camera can give you more control over your images compared to a smartphone or point-and-shoot. Look for a camera that performs well in various lighting conditions and has a good dynamic range to capture more detail in your shots.

Lenses are just as important as the camera itself. Wide-angle lenses are great for landscapes and street photography, while telephoto lenses can help you capture distant subjects or details. And don't forget a sturdy yet lightweight tripod for those long exposure and night shots.

Aside from the camera and lenses, consider other equipment such as memory cards with high storage capacity, spare batteries, and a reliable camera bag to protect your gear from the elements.

And remember, equipment is only as good as the person using it. So take time to understand your gear, learn its strengths and limitations, and practice, practice, practice. With the right equipment and knowledge, the world is your playground for travel photography location inspiration.

Capture the Essence of the Place

One of the most integral parts of travel photography is encapsulating the true spirit of a location. Your photographs should do more than just document the scenery; they should capture the essence of the place and provide a glimpse into its soul.

How do you do that, you ask? Here are a few tips:

Firstly, immerse yourself in the culture. Speak with the locals, taste the cuisine, and partake in traditional activities. The more you understand about a place, the better you can portray its essence in your photographs.

Next, observe the environment. Take note of the architecture, the landscapes, the colors, and the patterns. These elements can help you communicate the uniqueness and character of a location.

Lastly, don't just capture what's in front of you, also consider what's happening around you. The hustle of a city market, the tranquility of a secluded beach, or the majesty of a mountain range — these experiences can provide a rich backdrop for your travel photography location inspiration.

Remember, your goal is to evoke emotions and tell a story with your images. So focus on capturing the essence of the place, not just its appearance.

Use Natural Light to Your Advantage

Light, especially natural light, is a photographer's best friend. It can elevate an average shot to a breathtaking one. So when you're out and about in an exotic location, don't just look for stunning vistas—also keep an eye on the light.

Early morning and late afternoon, often referred to as the 'golden hours', provide the most flattering light. The sun at these times casts long shadows and emits a warm, golden glow. It's an ideal time for travel photography location inspiration. You could capture a stunning sunrise over a mountain range or a historic monument bathed in the soft glow of a setting sun.

Midday light, however, can be harsh and create strong contrasts. But don't let that discourage you. This can be a great time to capture architectural details, vibrant colors, or dramatic landscapes. Remember, shadows can add depth and interest to your images too.

Lastly, don't forget about the 'blue hour', the period of twilight each morning and evening when the sun is below the horizon. The indirect sunlight during this time can create beautifully soft light and dramatic skies — perfect for cityscapes and landscapes.

So, whether it's the warm tones of the golden hour, the stark contrasts of midday, or the soft light of the blue hour, natural light can make a massive difference in your travel photography. Use it to your advantage!

Focus on Details

When you're shooting in a new location, it's easy to get overwhelmed by the grandeur of the place. It could be the towering skyline of a bustling city, the sprawling expanse of a serene beach, or the majestic panorama of a mountain range. While these are great for those wide-angle shots, don't forget to zoom in and focus on the details too.

Small details can tell a story just as powerful as a sweeping landscape. It could be an old man playing chess in the park, colorful spices in a local market, intricate carvings on a historical monument, or an interesting pattern made by shadows. These elements can provide that extra layer of depth and intrigue to your travel photographs.

Look out for textures, patterns, colors, and forms that catch your eye. Maybe it's the bright, bustling tapestry of a local market, or the quiet simplicity of a lone leaf floating on a pond. These tiny details can often provide an abundance of travel photography location inspiration.

By focusing on the details, you not only capture the soul of the place but also create a more intimate and personal depiction of your travel experience. After all, travel is as much about those little moments as it is about the grand vistas.

Experiment with Composition

Composition is a key element in creating compelling travel photographs. While the rule of thirds is a good starting point, don't be afraid to break the rules and experiment. Sometimes, the most striking images come from thinking outside the box and trying something different.

Why not try a different angle? Instead of shooting straight on, try looking up or down. Get down low or climb up high. This can radically change the perspective and create a unique image that stands out.

Don't hesitate to play around with the framing of your shot either. You could use natural elements like trees and archways to frame your subject. Or, you could fill the frame with your subject to create a more impactful image.

Another way to add interest to your compositions is by using leading lines. These could be roads, fences, rivers, or anything else that draws the viewer's eye into the image. This technique can make your image more dynamic and give it a sense of depth.

Remember, the goal is to create an image that holds the viewer's attention and makes them feel like they're right there with you. So, let your creativity loose and use your travel photography location inspiration to experiment with composition.

At the end of the day, there are no hard and fast rules in photography. What matters is that you create an image that you're happy with and that tells the story you want to tell.

Embrace the Weather

Weather is a crucial element that can make or break your travel photography. But guess what? It doesn't always have to be sunny for you to take a fantastic photo. In fact, some of the best travel photography location inspiration comes from embracing the weather, whatever it may be.

Shooting in the rain, for example, can lead to some stunning images. Raindrops can add a beautiful texture to your photos, and wet surfaces can create interesting reflections. The key is to protect your equipment—invest in a good waterproof camera bag or a rain cover.

Don't shy away from cloudy days either. Overcast skies can provide soft, diffused light that's perfect for capturing details without harsh shadows. Plus, cloudy skies can add drama and mood to your shots, especially in black and white.

And let's not forget about the magic of mist and fog. These conditions can lend an ethereal, dreamlike quality to your photos, making them truly memorable.

The trick is to adapt to the conditions and use them to your advantage. So, the next time you're out and about, don't pack up your camera at the first sign of bad weather. Instead, see it as an opportunity to capture some unique, mood-filled shots.

So, next time the weather forecast isn't looking perfect, don't be disheartened. Embrace the weather and use it as part of your travel photography location inspiration.

Tell a Story with Your Photographs

Let's talk about turning your travel photography into visual storytelling. Creating a narrative with your photos is a fantastic way to add depth and interest, making your travel photography location inspiration come to life!

Start by creating a sense of place. This can be achieved by including elements in your images that define the location's unique character. It could be the vibrant colors of a local market, an iconic landmark, or a quaint street scene.

Next, consider the human element. People bring a story to life. Capturing locals in their daily routines or tourists exploring can add a dynamic, personal touch to your images. Remember, you're not just snapping a picture; you're capturing a moment in time.

Pay attention to small details too. A close-up of a handcraft, the texture of an ancient wall, or a street sign can all contribute to the story you're trying to tell. These smaller elements add layers to your narrative, giving viewers more to connect with.

Finally, think about the sequence of your photos. Just like a well-written story, your photo series should have a clear beginning, middle, and end. This approach will draw viewers in and take them on a journey through your images.

Remember, your photographs are your voice. Use them to tell engaging, compelling stories that reflect your travel photography location inspiration.

Learn from Local Photographers

One of the best ways to boost your travel photography location inspiration is by connecting with local photographers. These folks have a deep understanding of the area's best spots, lighting conditions, and hidden gems — and they're usually more than happy to share their knowledge!

When you reach a new destination, try to find local photography clubs or communities. Don't be shy to introduce yourself and ask for tips. Not only will this give you insider information, but it's also a great way to make new friends and broaden your network.

Another effective strategy is to follow local photographers on social media platforms. This can provide a wealth of ideas for compositions, subjects, and locations that you might not have found on your own. Plus, you'll get a more intimate look at the place through their lenses.

Learning from local photographers is more than just getting tips and tricks. It's about understanding the culture, the people, and the spirit of the location. And this understanding will shine through in your photos, making them not just visually stunning but also emotionally resonant.

So next time you’re planning a trip, remember to add "connect with local photographers" to your to-do list. Their insights might just be the key to unlocking your next level of travel photography location inspiration.

Practice Patience

Patience in photography, especially travel photography, is more than a virtue—it's a necessity. When you're seeking that perfect travel photography location inspiration, sometimes it's not about going to dozens of different places. Instead, it's about spending quality time in one location, waiting for the right moment to press the shutter button.

Imagine this: You've found a beautiful spot that's just begging to be photographed. But the light isn't right, or maybe the weather isn't cooperating. Do you pack up your gear and move on? Nope. You wait. And while you're waiting, you observe. You take in the sights, the sounds, the smells. You get to know the place on a deeper level. And when the conditions are finally just right—snap! You've captured a photo that's not just beautiful, but also deeply personal and unique.

Patience also applies when you're trying to capture people in your travel photos. You might have to wait for the perfect candid moment, or for a crowd to clear so you can get a shot of a landmark. Or perhaps you need to wait for that split second when the sun peeks out from behind the clouds, casting a stunning, golden light on the scene.

Remember, great travel photos aren't just about beautiful locations. They're about capturing moments, emotions, and stories. And sometimes, these things take time to unfold. So the next time you're out with your camera, try slowing down. Be patient. Your photography—and your travel experiences—will be all the better for it.

If you enjoyed uncovering the secrets of stunning travel photography locations and want to explore more unique travel photography experiences, check out 'Travel Photography: Chasing the Northern Lights' workshop by David Rocaberti. This workshop will teach you the tips and techniques needed to capture the breathtaking beauty of the Northern Lights and elevate your travel photography skills.