Basic Photography Tips for Travel Blogs

I’m a professional makeup artist by trade, and an amateur photographer. I’ve been lucky to have worked with some A – list professional photographers. I’ve learned a lot on the job by paying attention, asking questions, and then going out and shooting and trying new ideas.

As a creative and visual person I get a lot of inspiration from traveling. I love both travel and photography and they are a match made in heaven to me. For my first trip to Venice in 2007, I purchased a point and shoot camera. In 2010 I graduated to a DSLR.

If you have a travel blog, then you know good photographs are a must. Whether you shoot landscapes, food, or people, the photos should tell the story, with or without some text to go along with the photographs. You don’t have to be a professional photographer to take interesting and well composed photographs for your travel blog.

Here I’m going to share some tips with you that I’ve learned along the way, mostly by trial and error.
For this article I’m using a Digital Single Lens Reflex camera. Whether you are using a DSLR, an iPhone, or a point and shoot, I think you’ll find a tip or two that will save you some time and some tears.

1. Travel photographs should tell a story. Even if your blog is very specialized, take a variety of images. Of course you’re going to write some text to go along with the photographs but the photos should be a visual illustration of the text. In other words, you can communicate that you had a delicious cappuccino simply by taking a nicely composed photograph. It can make the story more interesting if you also have some shots of the café, (interior and exterior) and maybe even a shot of a waiter or the barista at work.

©pennysadler 2013 cappuccino with foam heart

Tell a story

© Barista pennysadler 2013

Cafe interior

2.Take a lot of photographs. That’s the beauty of digital. If your memory card is full, you can always download images to your laptop or other storage device. Or you can just delete the images that are a total bust.

3.Look at your subject in new ways. Try different angles. Look at it from all sides. Try shooting with your camera angled up, or get low. Make something normal and common look unique and different. Sometimes that means you have to take a lot of photographs until you begin to see things in a new way.

 wine bottles ©pennysadler 2013

A different perspective

4. Get up close and personal with your subject. Detailed images work well on blogs.

©pennysadler 2013

Closeup of the Duomo in Orvieto, Italy

5. Get out of bed! I’ve taken some of my favorite photos in the early morning hours before everyone else is up and about. This is really crucial if you want to take photographs in areas around popular monuments and you hope to get a clean shot, without too much clutter in the background. It’s also a great time to photograph interiors, when there aren’t so many people around.

Piazza Santa maria in Trastevere ©pennysadler 2013

Great light and few people

6. Be prepared. Carry a quart size plastic ziploc bag or two with you. If it rains  you can use it to shield your camera. They are also handy waterproof storage for extra batteries, lenses, memory cards, and anything else you you need to carry with you.

7. Choose a theme or subject. Food, colors, churches, people, and markets, all make great subjects to build a photo story.

©pennysadler 2013

Food is always a good topic

8. Plan ahead. Think about what you want to shoot and the best time of day to do so. Early morning and sunset provide the best available light for landscape and outdoor photography.

©pennysadle 2013

Timing is everything

9. Work out! Photography can be athletic. The best way to see an area is to walk it. I go to Italy frequently and there are lots of hills, cobblestone streets, and stairs. It’s aerobic! I also know a guy who likes to ride his bike while shooting in urban areas. It’s easier than driving and parking.

10. Compose in the camera. Don’t rely on editing software. Aim for perfection before editing.

©pennysadler 2013

No cropping needed

Finally, join photogroups on Google+. Read. Go on photowalks. Most important of all, go out and shoot.

All materials copyright Penny Sadler 2012 – 2013.


19 thoughts on “Basic Photography Tips for Travel Blogs

  1. There are some good tips here that I need to remember – notably the story telling and alternate angles. I rely too much on taking too many photos and finding a few gems amongst all the rough.

    • Hi Steve. Thank you for reading. I know what you mean, That’s my default mode. I’ve tried it both ways and I’m always happier with my images if I take the time to compose them in the camera.

  2. Thanks for sharing your tips! I love to take photos where ever I am, be it traveling or at a kids’ event. And I take lots of photos! Gives me options to find a decent one. Though recently my photos, especially my indoor shots, are not coming out as clean and crisp as they used to. Perhaps my older DSLR is just that – older. I am thinking about purchasing a new DSLR, but when traveling, a full size one is just too bulky. Do you have any camera suggestions to consider?

    • Hi Carol,
      I am using a Nikon D5000. Nothing fancy. It’s about 3 years old now. I work with professional photographers so I always new I wanted a DSLR. How I chose that camera was simply economics.
      I like it because it’s light weight and travels well. The kit lens is showing some wear now but it’s very inexpensive to replace. It may be that you simply need a new lens and not a new camera at all?
      Full format cameras are expensive and yes, bigger and heavier. If you are seriously considering buying one, my best advice is to rent it first. I rented lots of lenses in the beginning. It’s a great way to try new things without making a huge investment. You can even rent on line at sites like or They also sell used equipment which is perfectly good to buy. I recently bought a used lens and am very happy with it. Hope this helps. I can’t recommend a particular brand or camera but I can tell you that I’ve been pretty happy with my Nikon D5000.
      I prefer to shoot with a lens other than the kit lens but I use it plenty for travel. I hope this helps.

      • Thanks Penny! I’ve been looking at Nikon, and will give the D5000 a little test run. I’ve been using an Olympus, and yes, I do think part of the issue is the lens, but overall I just haven’t been happy with it. I’ll look into lens rental too. I’ve got a trip coming up in 3 weeks I’d like to have a new camera for.

  3. Great tips Penny. My goal this year is to move to a DSLR camera and take better photos for my blog so this is handy.

    • Thanks! I’m glad to hear it. Of course you don’t need a DSLR to take great photos. Try some of these ideas with whatever camera you are using and see what happens! Let me know.

    • It’s really my favorite time of day. Especially in a big city.
      If we ever end up in the same place we should do an early morning photo walk. At least no one will be complaining about getting out of bed too early. LOL

  4. Fantastic tips for budding travellers. I take a lot of photos when I travel but ALWAYS wish I had taken more once I start editing them when I get home. Very few are perfect! And what is even more annoying is usually the ones I snap on the fly are better than ones I have spent 10 minutes setting up haha.

    • Perfect? What’s that? ha! Taking a lot of photographs can be misunderstood. Take a lot of thoughtful photographs. I am looking forward to seeing the photographs you’ll be taking whilst walking the El Camino. 🙂

  5. Penny, your photos are lovely. I’m not a photographer. My posts are full of other peoples flckr contributions. But I can appreciate good stuff when I see it.

    • Hi Jenny
      Thanks so much! I am creating a site /gallery for my photos. I will also have a gallery of images that bloggers like you can use and share for posts.( don’t know if it will be flickr) In the meantime if there’s something you need let me know. I’d be happy to share images as long as they are credited and linked to my blog.
      Btw, I love your blog and read it often.

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