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Bolivia Travel Landscape Photography Copacabana Cathedral aka Basilica of Our Lady of Copacabana sunset Copacabana Bolivia South America
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Travel Photography Tips, 30 Ideas for Creative Composition

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On my photography workshops and holidays, one of the main tips I give (alongside getting up at sunrise, which always receives a mixed response!), is the importance of practice practice practice. I realise this concept is nothing revolutionary, but to make the step from ‘happy snapper’ to ‘photographer’, you will need to dedicate time specifically to improving and developing your photography. Being in a photography frame of mind is crucial, as it requires looking at the world in a different way. Simply taking photos of situations that happen to present themselves to you just won’t cut it!

Bolivia Travel Landscape Photography Copacabana Cathedral aka Basilica of Our Lady of Copacabana sunset Copacabana Bolivia South America

Shots like this require patience and taking the time to visualise a shot before it takes place.

Peru Travel Photography Worker at Salt pans Salinas de Maras Maras near Cusco Cuzco Peru South America

Using scale as a compositional tool to enhance a scene.

One of my recommended exercises, prior to even coming on a photography workshop, is to try as many of these suggestions as possible. Walk around a city, visit a park or explore a market and force yourself to take photos in a way that you are not used to. These are unlikely to be winning images first time, but by experimenting with these techniques and compositional ideas in a comfortable environment, you then have them in your repertoire for when it matters most in the future.

So… stop reading this blog, print off the list and go for a walk!

1. Frame your subject/scene

  • Arches
  • Windows
  • Door frames
  • Anything!!
Peru Travel Photography Blue cloisters Santa Catalina Monastery Convento de Santa Catalina aka Saint Catherine a convent in Arequipa Peru South America

Example of using frames as a compositional tool in photography

2. Perfect reflections

  • Glass
  • Water

3. Imperfect reflections e.g. abstract reflections from shiny surface

4. Double exposure effect where something interesting on both sides of a window

Myanmar Burma Travel Photography Buddhist Monks praying at Golden Rock Temple Kyaiktiyo Pagoda at sunset Mon State Myanmar Burma

Example of photographing reflections in a window

5. Find highest viewpoint in area for aerial/elevated view

6. Photograph from directly above – while at ground level

Myanmar Burma Portrait Travel Photography Documentary Portraiture Oh Bo Pottery Shed Twante near Yangon Myanmar Burma

Example of photographing from directly above at ground level

7. Look up at subject

Ecuador Travel Photography Misty Jungle Mashpi Cloud Forest in the Choco Rainforest Ecuador South America

Example of looking directly up, taken in the rainforest in Ecuador

8. Photograph from ground level – i.e. 1 inch from the ground

9. Focus on colours – 1 colour or complimentary colours or subtle shades

10. Look for repeating patterns/subjects

Peru Travel Photography Salt pans Salinas de Maras Maras near Cusco Cuzco Peru South America

Patterns make great subjects, especially when you will the frame with them

11. Shapes

12. Symmetry

13. Textures

14. Fill the frame – still needs shape/composition

15. Scale – small subject in large landscape

16. Silhouettes

Iceland Travel Photography Tourists walking on Breidamerkurjokull Glacier Vatnajokull Ice Cap Iceland

Photographing into the sun can create dramatic silhouettes

17. Leading lines into the frame

England Landscape Photography Photographer Pier at Derwent Water Derwentwater at sunset Lake District Cumbria England UK Europe

Leading lines are a great compositional technique for creating depth in photos

18. Get closer….closer….closer

Ecuador Travel Photography Owl Butterfly wing macro of wing pattern details Mashpi Cloud Forest Choco Rainforest Ecuador South America

Getting as close as possible opens up interesting shapes, textures and patterns that you don't see when standing further back.

19. Really wide angle close up with something contextual in the background

20. Shadows

21. Photograph into the sun

  • Sun stars by placing on edge of item in the scene
  • Flare – different feel by placing sun…
  • Just out of the frame
  • On edge of the frame
  • Just in the frame
  • Place sun directly behind subject – silhouettes
Sri Lanka Travel Photography Kandy Lake and the island which houses the Royal Summer House at sunrise Kandy Central Province Sri Lanka Asia

Photographing into the sun can add great atmosphere to a photo

22. Hands

  • Holding something
  • Doing something

23. Motion using slow shutter speed

  • Panning from side on
  • Panning from behind
  • Subject blurred, scene sharp
  • Photograph from transport with motion in foreground
Bolivia Travel Landscape Photography Miners mining inside Potosi silver mines Department of Potosi Bolivia South America

Example of panning from the side to add motion and energy to a photo

Argentina Travel Landscape Photography Driving through Talampaya National Park La Rioja Province North Argentina South America

Photographing from a car using a slow shutter speed offers a blurry foreground

24. Get close to action

  • People – feels much more intimate and makes the viewer feel like they are part of the scene
  • Water in landscape – creates energy
Peru Travel Portrait Photography Documentary Portraiture Portrait of an old Peruvian woman Cusco Region Peru South America

Getting close for portraits creates a much more intimate feel

25. Look for pairs or threes

26. Stars

  • Star trails
  • Behind silhouette of very distinct shape
  • As part of landscape – focus doesn’t have to be the stars

27. Very long exposure during day – 5 minutes+

London Travel Photography St Pauls Cathedral seen across Millennium Bridge City of London London England United Kingdom

Use filters during the day to capture long exposures for a fine art feel

28. Long exposure/slow shutter speed with water – suggested shutter speeds are very vague as it is very dependent on the scene, type/quantity of water and how quickly it is moving.

  • Very long (4s+) – milky effect
  • Medium (1s to 4s) – more directional motion/patterns in rivers and as waves go in and out
  • Slow-ish shutter speed (1/4s to 1s) – burst/splash from crashing waves visible
Iceland Landscape Photography Icebergs at sunrise on Jokulsarlon Beach a black volcanic sand beach in South East Iceland 2

Long exposures with water adds motion to a photo

29. Tell the story of a person

  • Shot 1 - Set the scene
  • Shot 2 - Portrait of person
  • Shot 3 - Detail of action/context
  • Shot 4 - Focus on element of scene with person in background
Myanmar Burma Portrait Travel Photography Documentary Portraiture Novice Monk at a Buddhist Monastery between Inle Lake and Kalaw a popular 2 day trek in Shan State Myanmar Burma

Portrait of a novice monk in Myanmar

30. Look up the times of sunrise, sunset and moonrise

Have you got any suggestions to add to the list? Feel free to get in touch!

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If you are interested in joining a photography workshop or holiday, commissioning me for an upcoming project, licensing photos or absolutely anything at all, I would love to hear from you!

07795 226156