This discrepancy between wonderful moments and mediocre photos happens all too often. Images in our albums rarely live up to the memories of the destinations we visit. (“You can’t tell, but the hotel pool actually was beautiful.”)
Luckily, T+L’s photo editors know a thing or two about taking pictures, and they’ve shared some of their most useful tips on shooting the trickiest of scenarios (including food).
Here’s one example: to capture that to-die-for hotel room, sometimes it’s best to step outside of it. Shooting a room through an open door can add depth, and it’s a fun way to vary your images.
For more travel photography tips, click through to see T+L’s guide on how to shoot like an expert.
2 of 13Cedric Angeles
For High Contrast
Shooting fireworks and other situations with both bright and dim lighting can be tricky. Many cameras have a specific fireworks mode that should help, as should the “merge to HDR” feature. While it’s tempting to focus on the fireworks themselves, try including some of the general setting as well to keep shots interesting.
3 of 13Peter Frank Edwards
For Shooting out of a Plane
Surprisingly, putting the lens right up to the plane window increases the risk of shaking and can result in blurry photos. Keep the camera a few centimeters back, and, during takeoff and landing, try capturing the plane’s shadow on the ground. For inspiration, check out these scenic views from airplane windows.
4 of 13Christopher Wise
For Different Vantage Points
Add some variety to your photos by shooting subjects from above or below eye level. This adds dramatic effect and can bring new perspectives (literally) on what would be average scenes. Shooting from above often makes the subject seem smaller, while shooting from below can make everyday subjects appear impressively large.
5 of 13Jason Lowe
Don’t forget to focus on the little things. Zooming in on a place’s minutiae, such as a street sign, a house number, a door, or even a vegetable, can often bring overwhelming situations—a crowded street market in a foreign city, for example—down to earth. And such up-close shots create a welcome change of pace amid an album of sweeping panoramas and cityscapes.
6 of 13David Leventi
Add context by standing outside the room itself. If possible, look for repeated designs, such as archways or windows, to add depth to your image.
Zooming out to show part of the table can create an alluring sense of place. For a foolproof angle, look straight down onto the plate.
8 of 13Yadid Levy
For Night Shots
In low-light settings, find illuminated areas—streetlights, reflections, or brightly lit buildings—to add color. Keep your camera stable and set it on a higher ISO speed to capture more details.
9 of 13Chris Churchill
Sometimes body language can be as evocative as a facial expression. Also, a little patience goes a long way: give your subject time to get comfortable in front of the lens.
10 of 13Jake Stangel & Geordie Wood
Highlight unique details by experimenting with focus: varying your aperture can create an interesting contrast between foreground and background.
11 of 13iStockphoto
If you’re taking portraits in the sun, turn the flash on. Not only will this brighten any shadowy areas, but it will also make the subject pop in the frame. Professional photographers often use this trick at the beach.
12 of 13Ron Watts/Corbis
Set your camera to a slower shutter speed (between a 30th to a 60th of a second) and ask your subject to stand still in front of a moving background (or do the opposite); the contrast can be powerful.
13 of 13iStockphoto
Many photographers make careers out of capturing funny moments. Pay attention to what’s happening around popular tourist sites—there’s often comedy in the tension between the iconic and the pedestrian.