Our September course as part of our photography holidays saw a group of beginners armed to the teeth with expectations to learn about their DSLR cameras and get the kinds of travel photography photos they’ve dreamed about. During the week, students learn how to approach a variety of different subjects that make up the travel photographers’ portfolio. Photography for beginners made easy. Here are some tips on how to get the best from each genre with links to student galleries from September’s photography week. Just click on the headings to see the galleries.


Abstract photos – looking at the world in a photographic way

At its core great travel photography is about capturing the essence of a location in your individual way. Every location you may encounter on holiday offers tremendous prospects to subvert the typical scenic recording and a great way to do this is by thinking about subjects in more abstract terms. Appreciation of light, shadow, textures, line and form become the defining elements within a photo.  Add to that balancing colours and juxtaposition of key elements and you have the ingredients for images that reflect your own individual take on the world. Your use of apertures should reflect the DOF (depth of field) you want to achieve either in the compression of space or through differentiation.

Photographing people – superb rewards but approach with sensitivity

In most countries it’s certainly not easy to photograph people and it often depends on what kind of photographer you are. Whether you like to shoot reportage or portraits will effect your approach. For those looking to record individuals as part of their travels then it makes sense to seek permission if the subject is clearly identifiable.  This can take many forms of course and sometimes just a smile and indifferent reaction may be enough. Certain cultures are sensitive to issues of privacy whilst others have become attuned to the use of images in postcards which they feel is exploitative and can both show them in a negative light.

Sometimes it’s not possible to ask for permission as the moment may be ‘lost’ or if the individual is too far away or busy doing something.  In this instance you have to take a call on this. Generally common rules apply almost everywhere.  Children and particularly the elderly who may not understand what’s happening and should be approached with caution.  Seek permission if parents are around or indeed refrain from taking child photos at all particularly in developed nations.

Camera settings should be kept to a simple set-up. Apertures and DOF should be used to include or exclude the context dependent on the kind of scene you want to portray. Our photography holidays and photography tours include detailed approaches to photographing people specific to each of the locations visited.

One location explored – the mark of a developing photographer

Students who on our holidays return time and again to one location to draw out all the nuances are already on the way to the kind of photography that suits portfolio building. It also means that getting your eye in on more than one occasion develops a real understanding of the place visually. To get the most from ploughing a narrow furrow, make use of different times of day and lighting conditions. Two similar photos compositionally can look completely different at opposite ends of the day.  Also by taking a different route around the location this can give you a new perspective. The port in Essaouira as toured during our photography holiday offers just such a level of variety and excellent photographic potential.

Buildings – a great way to work on your composition

Architecture all around us offers excellent photographic potential and it doesn’t need to be in an exotic location, just looking harder will bring some rewards. A couple of tips will help. Firstly, it pays to think in sections rather than the whole building as this will be easier to compose; the less you have within your frame, in theory the easier it is to synthesise all the elements into a creative whole. A telephoto lens can often help here as it’s not always possible to physically get closer to the structure.

Secondly, a telephoto will compress space which is a good thing as it adds an element of abstraction but this this you’ll need to control your aperture and DOF. You have two approaches to this. The first is to select a distant point of focus and leave foreground elements fuzzy or more commonly to ensure all is sharp within the frame by using a small aperture (a big number). When using a tele you’ll need to select a higher number than you usually would to achieve a greater DOF than with a wide angle for example.

To find out more about what we offer photography for beginners check our student profiles page and to truly understand DOF and using lenses you need to sign up for a week’s course via our booking page here.

Article Name
A beginners guide to travel photography
Different approaches to photographing a trip with example images