Better Travel Photography: The essential guide to shooting abroad. Page 3

Look behind the scenes
Although tourist maps are useful for plotting your walking route around a complex location, it’s essential to do your research before arriving. The best travel photographs are made when the photographer builds a solid understanding of the cultural environment rather than limiting the project to a series of scenes or commonly-found stop-offs on the tourist map. In theory this means reading around your subject as this will suggest a great deal more shooting locations than a tourist map will ever do.

If you’re planning a trip to an overseas location, a good first step is to log onto to the tourist information website of your destination and check out if there are any special events planned during your trip. Festivals are one of the most exciting times to shoot travel photos as you’re presented with a huge array of subjects without having to travel far. Here you’ll also find a real slice of local life and customs that may only appear once a year.

For those keen to dig a little deeper, try investing in a well-researched travel guide such as one from the Lonely Planet or Rough Guide series. You’ll get information on the weird and wonderful and all those things a tourist map would never point you towards. Most travel book series also have an accompanying website where travellers can exchange their secrets, findings and top travel tips.

Why this image works
Local festivals can really add an exciting extra dimension to your shots
Getting up close and shooting from a low angle adds real impact.

Make a stylish record
Many travel locations have been designed in a unique style or are famous for spectacular scenery. A great way of approaching a travel project is to set yourself the task of documenting the unique aspect of your destination.

Paris, Prague and locations nearer to home such as Bath can be photographed in such as way that all visual references to modern life have been cleverly cropped out of the frame. Just like the real-life set of a TV costume drama, creating a period feel to your project is a real challenge and will force you to learn how your camera really works.

In many city locations, the most historic subjects don’t make good colour photos, but can be made into much more striking shots when converted to black and white in your image-editing program later on. Simply remove image colour by using a Desaturate command, then add a sepia or blue tone using your Color Balance dialogue box. Adding the same final tone colour to a large set of images taken at different locations is a very effective way of tying them together visually and adds much more of a personal feel.

Why this image works
The historical and moody feel of the site isn’t disturbed by the few visitors
Amazing use of light makes plenty of colour amid the stones