Note: Some of the links in this post may be affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a commission at no additional cost to you. More details are here.
A friend was recently telling me about her travels in Europe as she showed me photos of various trips in Greece, Spain, and Germany. She said that she loves having photos of the trips but doesn’t really like spending a lot of time thinking about what photos to take. She just wants to enjoy her trip and have some photos to show for it.
Maybe you’re like that, too. Or maybe you love photography and it’s an essential part of experiencing a place for you. Either way, you probably want to have some travel photographs that help people feel a little of what you felt when you were there.
Even if you only take a few photos a day and your camera is in its case for the rest of the day, it is possible to tell a story with the photographs you take.Even if you only take a few photos a day, it's possible to tell a story with your photographs.
One simple tip: shoot 3-5 photos of a given scene.
1. The wide shot
Take a photo that sets the scene and includes an entire street view, beach, or wherever else you are. Just like authors let readers know about the physical setting their story takes place in, it’s important to communicate the big picture to people who will be viewing your travel photos.
For example, imagine a small town on Cuba’s coast—a beach, palm trees, and colorful houses dotting the sandy shores. A wide shot would take all of that in. But don’t be haphazard about it—even though you’re including a lot in this image, it’s still important to be intentional about what you include. Be diligent about keeping distractions out of your image (like construction signs or distracting colors).
2. The medium shot
Take a photo that brings the viewer closer into the scene. In the above example, it might be a single house with a few palm trees in the photo. Or it could be photos of friends sitting on the patio of the house you’re staying at, including some background elements.
3. The detail shot
I’m a sucker for details, and this is my favorite type of photo to take. But without the above few photos, they tend to lack context (something I’m guilty of). Still, the detail shots can bring a lot of depth to the story you’re telling. People don’t always notice the details, and when you stop to photograph something, it slows both you and the viewer down to notice. Sometimes the details are humorous, or they make a statement, or they’re just intriguing to you for one reason or another.
In our Cuban coast example, this could be a photo of a coconut in the sand, or a closer shot of doors and windows of a brightly colored house.
The next time you’re out shooting or you’re traveling somewhere, try this simple exercise a few times throughout your day. Some of you will shoot a lot more images, but make sure you think about whether you have shot at least 1 or 2 of each of the above categories. Shooting this way will help bring depth and context to your photos, and it will help you tell a more complete visual story.