Every year it never fails. We arrive at an amazing monument or adorable Medieval hill town and I immediately start shouting for everyone to gather for photos. My enthusiasm for photos is usually met with eye rolls and sighs… at first. By the end of the study abroad trip, however, students are lined up to have me capture the moment. If only they would listen to me from the start!
I always tell students (or anyone traveling) that the greatest souvenir they can bring back from their study abroad experience is a batch of truly amazing pictures (and they never add weight to your luggage!). Because at the end of the day, you may never get the chance to return, but you can always revisit those precious memories through your photos.
I don’t know if it is because they feel vain or because they have never thought about taking the time to compose a great photograph, but so many people make the mistake of not taking the time to capture their experiences while traveling or studying abroad. In addition to encouraging everyone to take more pictures when traveling, I thought I would also share some tips for capturing even better photos!
Thanks to digital cameras and huge memory cards, you can now take all the pictures you want. And you absolutely should! I always joke that it takes twenty shots to get one good one. I don’t, however, recommend saving all twenty shots. Snap like crazy while out and about, but edit and cut when you return home. Then share the cream of the crop with friends and family and on social media. Trust me, no one wants to see 72 shots of the Eiffel Tower, two or three amazing shots will do.
Turn the camera on you
So you succeeded in taking a ton of photos, but you aren’t in any of them! Why? I always catch students doing this. They walk around Rome taking 700 pictures of random stones, churches, and piazzas. Odds are you will never remember what everything was and I always wonder what they are going to do with that picture of a random fallen column. Are they going to hang it above their bed? Odds are they will never do anything with that photo, and in five years they won’t even remember what it was or where they were when they took it. Instead, I encourage students to turn the camera on themselves. Don’t be afraid to take pictures in front of monuments and in squares. You will thank yourself one day. And if you are traveling alone, ask someone! You can then return the favor and take a picture of them.
Have fun with candids
Ok, so 27 pictures of you in front of 27 churches with your hand on your hip and a smirk on your face will get old…. quick. A selfie might seem like the easiest solution, but the same principle applies. No one wants to see 27 selfies. Instead, I encourage people to mix it up. Hand your camera to a friend and tell them just to snap away while you explore a new monument.
In addition to embracing the candid shot, you should also try different angles and compositions. Bring a tripod and try different camera settings. Also, your camera’s self-timer is your best friend. You can also try action or jumping shots (my personal favorite).
Dress the part
There is no point in taking the time to compose an amazing shot if you don’t like the way you look! When it comes to travel photos the fit and shape of your clothing is important (we all know pictures can be unforgiving). You also want to avoid dating the photo with your clothing. Timeless elegance always looks good. You can read more about how to travel with style here (and here and here are some travel outfit suggestions).