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Travel Photography - How to Shoot Like a Pro

written by: Larry M. Lynch•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 1/23/2009

Travel photography is a sought-after, lucrative field that you can enter more easily when you know how, where and what to photograph. Here are five essential kinds of travel photos you must master to be successful.

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    Digital Travel Photography Assignments

    To ensure success with your travel photography assignments, no self-respecting digital shutterbug should leave out digital images and graphics that would enhance a multi-media package. Not only does a range of professional-quality images boost the saleability of your work, but the images themselves can also be re-sold over and over again individually or in packages. If you travel or are living and working abroad, these tips and techniques will most certainly work for you. Here are five required digital image types you must shoot when on a travel photography assignment no matter where you might have to go.

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    1. Take Panoramas, Overlooks and Vista Views

    IMG 5152 Where are you? A panoramic or overall scene is indispensable. Is it a seaport? Is it in the mountains? Is it a valley at the base of a volcano? Find a scenic view of your location and shoot it at a variety of angles. Want a hint of what and where? Check out postcard scenes of the local area for starting ideas. You’ll need to be as creative and original as possible though, so try for a fresh insight or angle of popular views.

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    2. Capture the Human Interest Element and People

    Whether you're in lower Hoboken or Antarctica, don’t fail to get shots of locals working, at play or going about their normal daily life. Find out what's different, unique or unusual, then document it with a broad range of images. Keep a travel photographer’s eye out on their clothes, lifestyle, environment, and local customs which are all good aspects for photo ops while on assignment like this lady buying Chirimoya (a regional fruit) from a street vendor. Be professional and polite: ask for permission to photograph people. So, won't the people I ask say "No"? The vast majority won't, and those few who may turn you down won't be crass about it. Nobody has ever whipped out a revolver and shot at me - although I did have one crabby old French woman at a news stand in Paris hit me over the head with a rolled up newspaper once. For your information, I wasn’t taking her picture then either, but that’s another story.

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    3. Welcome Signs, Travel and Location Markers

    IMG 5337 You’d be surprised at just how often street, road, highway, city and location name signs are overlooked even though they are typically useful and saleable images. You know, like the signs that say, “You’re now in …” or "Welcome to ..." In almost any city or location there may be a number of these kinds of signs - some of them quite interesting, colorful or unique in some way. These kinds of images are also useful for presentations and photo displays. So wherever you might be headed to, or coming from, be sure to look around for signs. You’ll find them as you enter or leave a city, country or territory, on transport terminals, on the sides of buildings, along roads and highways and on commemorative plaques.

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    On page 2 of this article, we'll look at travel photography tips that will encourage you to get in on the action and up close and personal.

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    Learn Travel Photography - Taking the Best Vacation PicturesOn page 2 of this Travel Photography Tips article, we'll look at ways to get the best vacation pictures. Learn how to get in on the action around you and up close and personal. Included in this digital photography article, you'll also learn tips on taking macro photos. Here are 5 tips and techniques that will have you mastering the art of travel photography in no time. learn travel photography, digital photography tips, travel photography, vacation pictures, macro photos, techniques
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    4. Where’s the Action?

    Find out if there’s a festival, pageant, regional fair, local holiday parade or other current event happening around town. Are there any particularly special celebrations in progress or coming up soon? Check around and make sure to stop in on the festivities. This category of events can cover a wide cross section of attention-grabbing travel photography. Some short digital video segments depicting the action could come in handy too. You never know. While waiting at a bus stop in a small town, I was surprised and started shooting when a dancing, singing, brightly-clad throng of people frolicked by. “What’s the occasion?” I wondered. Turns out, moments later the pall-bearers came along practically bouncing the polished wooden coffin on their shoulders. Yup, it was a funeral alright – and the “happiest” one I’d ever seen. Somebody, please see to it that my sendoff is as gay as that one was, will ya?

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    5. Digital Images at Arm’s Length or Less

    IMG 5247 A brave, new world of bright, interest-piquing travel photography images awaits you just within the end of your arm. Travel-related photographs of local foods, flora and fauna including amphibians and insects, flowers, clothing, patterns, textures and architectural details are but a smattering of the themes to consider for close-ups and macro images when you travel. Remember, if it’s farther away than the length of your outstretched arm, it’s too far away for a truly dramatic macro digital image to be taken. This image of a local “beer-mixed-with-soda” bottled drink called “Refajo” is an example. Move in close. Now move in some more. Now move in just a bit more. Focus. NOW you can take the shot. Get it?

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    What If You’re NOT on a Travel Photography Assignment?

    IMG 5210 You're not journeying on a travel photography assignment, you say? If you're traveling on business, for pleasure or for vacation then shooting these five principal kinds of digital images will definitely help you in expanding your travel photography portfolio and directing some cash to start coming your way. While you're on loction, "take the shot", you don't know when you'll be able to use it. Now that I'm back home, where could I get this (ouch!) regional cactus variety close up? Besides, who knows what avenues will open up to you during the “assignment” of looking for and positioning yourself to photograph those "got-to-have-it" travel photography images? The main thing stopping you from having the income and the prestige you want is you. So get that digital camera out and get to it.