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10 tips (from the pros!) for taking great photos

A Society for Professional Travel Writers poll offers up some great ideas

by Lylah M. Alphonse  |  7202 views  |  0 comments  |      Rate this now! 

The Society of American Travel Writers (SATW), the world’s largest non-profit organization of professional travel journalists and photographers, recently polled its members to come up with the top 10 tips to help travelers take better photos. With spring break season upon us -- and summer just around the corner -- these great tips can help you make your photo album really shine.

1.) Shoot photos early in the morning and late in the afternoon.  Between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., the sun is overhead and the light is flat.  Shooting in early morning and late afternoon will add more color and shadows to your photos, giving more definition to the subject. "Although morning and late afternoon are considered the best light for making photographs, some exceptions apply," says Patricia Borns, maritime and travel writer/photographer. "In the Caribbean, for instance, to capture the water at its most electric aquamarine, shoot the seascape from on high, preferably at noon."

2.)  Move in close to your subject for impact. Too far back and your photo can be too busy.  Get close, and then get closer!  Fill the frame with your subject. "Use your camera to record details you would like to remember later such as street signs, place names and menus," suggests freelance writer and photographer Shelly Steig.

3.) Don’t shoot every photo at eye level. Don’t be afraid to get low to the ground or climb up to get a better vantage point. "Shooting a scene at other than eye level can add drama or perspective to an otherwise static setting," says David Swanson, a freelance travel writer/photographer. "Even if you can’t peer through the lens, hold your camera overhead or at waist level and experiment." (Worried about what's on the ground? Photographers and authors Michele and Tom Grimm offer this tip: "Carry a rubber mouse pad in your camera bag.  It will make it easier on your knees and clothing whenever you kneel down for a low camera angle.")


4.      Pay attention to details and distractions in the back of the photo or behind the heads of your subjects.  Frequently, a telephone pole or tree is sticking up behind your subject.  Move around until there are fewer distractions in the background.


“Don’t rely on your zoom lens to compose your images.  You have two feet.  Move about for the best angle and composition.” -- Dennis Cox, travel photographer, director of Photo Explorer Tours


5.      Shoot lots of photos and edit and erase at night.  Digital space is cheap.  Shoot in the highest res possible.


“Bracket your exposures and remember that if the light is low, you can increase your ISO (the equivalent of being able to change film speed) for every shot.”-- Catherine Watson, freelance travel writer


6.      Always show a sense of place as to where you are.  If in the tropics, frame the photo with palm trees; if in the mountains, frame it with pine trees.

About the Author

Lylah M. Alphonse is a journalist, blogger, and mom and stepmom to five kids. She is a Senior Editor at Yahoo! Shine, writes about juggling full-time career and parenthood at The 36-Hour Day here at Work It, Mom!, and blogs about everything else at Follow her on Twitter: @WriteEditRepeat.

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