Travel Photography Tips

What are useful tips for travel photography?

  1. Travel photography is for everybody. You don’t even need a DSLR. But never use a cell phone. Why? In a cellphone, the photos look nice on the monitor but when you print it out, it’s not as nice. You can’t blow up a cell phone picture.
  2. Master your tools. You should know the colors, megapixels, exposure ratios and ISO because if you don’t know these things, you will be forced to post-edit. Know your camera, know your settings.
  3. Know your location. Before taking a picture of a certain object or place, go around and look for a better vantage point. Study what the right time is to take the picture. Who should you wait for? What should you leave out of the picture? What should you include? The place can be beautiful but because you get too excited, you don’t see the posters of Smart or Globe or whatever ads. So when you use that picture, there will be distractions that you didn’t see. To make your photograph timeless, you have to think of what you should leave out. Timelessness is important for travel photography.
  4. Shoot in a magic hour. For a beach, it needs to be noontime so that there are no shadows and the sun is white. Magic hour is after sunset and before sunrise. Wait for the sun to sink because the sunlight reflected in the sky creates beautiful colors yet your lens will not get burnt.
  5. Know the risks in street photography. Ask yourself, what will I use these pictures for? Is this for publication, photojournalism? You might accidentally take a photo of a restricted area like a military installation. When you take photos of people, don’t just take close-ups left and right. You might be taking photos of famous personalities. Research about the place. Taking photos of people in Tondo can be dangerous. If you want to get an establishing shot, go to a vantage point that’s safe. Don’t just click and click. Ask if you can take their pictures. Diskarte lang (It’s just improvisation).
  6. Wear comfortable and appropriate clothes. Dress in a way that won’t call attention to the fact you’re a photographer. Don’t bring a big camera bag. Your subjects will get conscious.
  7. Make a list of what to bring. Extra battery, extra protection for your camera (anything plastic), extra lens, extra CF card.

What makes a good travel photograph?

A good travel photograph is what you see in the place combined with what your eyes see as a traveler. You add a detail from your perspective that makes it more interesting. If you don’t, it’s just a postcard. There’s no personality.

What elements can add “personality” to a photo?

If you’re taking a landscape of, for example, Palawan, the people who see your photo shouldn’t have to ask, “Where is this?” You can add something else to identify that it’s Palawan. You can include a person wearing native clothes in the picture.

In all my pictures—even landscape photos—I put people. That’s where you see the relationship between the photographer and the place. There should be people.

What are “don’ts” of travel photography?

Don’t make your photos artificially beautiful using post-editing. Stick to what’s real. Don’t add colors that aren’t there because that’s not what the eyes see.

Don’t saturate the colors. Stick to colors that are as close as possible to the real thing. Don’t make the background stronger than the foreground. When shooting horizons and you want your photos to be published, don’t tilt. Publications want a straight horizon.

What’s the best way to learn travel photography?

Read books, any book on photography. Get the books on whatever you like. Look for nice magazines related to travel: Conde Naste, National Geographic Traveller. So your eyes can see the rules. You’ll know what editors and art directors like, why a photo is published. Watch movies with beautiful cinematography. I watch movies related to travel.

What is your recommended lens?

For travel photography, you must have a wide-angle lens and telephoto lens. There is zoom lens nowadays that go from wide-angle to telephoto. For wide-angle, I recommend 14 millimeters or 18 millimeters.

Sample shoot during my travel at Ilocos Norte and Vigan